Fraser board OKs marijuana ordinance changes, allowing more diverse businesses, later retail hours
FRASER — Fraser is open for canna-business following the passage of amendments to the town’s marijuana ordinance at the Wednesday night board of trustees meeting.
The new amendments include allowing for marijuana businesses in planned development districts, extended hours and other marijuana businesses beside dispensaries, such as marijuana testing, product manufacturing and cultivation facilities. It also requires all marijuana businesses to have proper ventilation systems.
“There were two things that started this conversation: one was a request from one of our dispensaries to allow the possibility of later hours of operation,” explained Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin. “Another was the Economic Development Advisory Committee talking about the possibility of other marijuana industries obtaining licenses in Fraser.”
The board approved the changes Wednesday in a five to one vote, with trustee Andy Miller opposing and trustee Katie Soles absent.
Fraser’s town board first discussed the changes during a September board meeting and since had received around 90 letters from Fraser and Winter Park residents regarding the changes.
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The majority of the letters were in opposition to the change allowing marijuana businesses in planned development districts, which include Rendezvous and Grand Park. Even Rendezvous and Koelbel president Walter Koelbel submitted a letter in opposition to the zoning change.
Trustee Ryan Barwick, however, explained that the change only allows for marijuana businesses in the business areas of the planned development districts, so it doesn’t allow for them to be built in residential areas.
“There’s no reason to discriminate between new versus old business district, in my opinion,” Barwick said. “If it’s legal to have it in this part of town, why isn’t it legal to have there as long as it’s a commercial zoning?”
Barwick also noted that the change simply allows for businesses to apply with the town to build there, which would be a public process where each application is considered individually based upon its merits.
Other concerns from residents included the smell, which board members pointed out is addressed with the ventilation requirement, and a more general opposition to any new marijuana business.
“I think a lot of the people who wrote the emails were misinformed,” said Fraser Mayor Pro-Tem Eileen Waldow. “Amendment 64 says we are supposed to treat (marijuana businesses) alike.”
A representative of the Tabernash dispensary IgadI, David Michel, spoke during the meeting in support of changes to the ordinance, which he said was well-crafted and would allow Fraser to capture more tax revenue and create more employment.
“Retail stores, however, are good for the town, good for your tax base and you’re not going to extend the opportunity to buy marijuana to anybody new,” Michel said. “All you’re going do is secure that this town is getting those taxes and benefiting from the use.”
Michel said that IgadI has been discussing expanding its operations into the new business development at Grand Park, should the ordinance changes be adopted.
Miller, the only board member to oppose the changes, said he felt the ordinance should be more detailed and to outline distance requirements for the other types of marijuana businesses.
“Honestly, I’m just not comfortable with it yet because I think these are big zoning questions and big questions about density and business,” Miller said.
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