Fraser board rebuffs pot license cap, park restriction
The Fraser Board of Trustees has declined to alter town ordinances after a local marijuana shop owner suggested capping the number of pot shops and restricting the proximity of marijuana businesses to parks and other recreational facilities.
Craig Clark, owner of Growhouse LLC in Fraser, brought the two proposals to the board at its Nov. 18 meeting.
Clark’s first recommendation was that no medical or recreational facility be allowed within 500 feet of a public park, pool, recreational facility or similar public amenity.
The idea came from Clark’s experience with Eagle County’s marijuana regulations, he said.
“It struck me that this was a pretty solid restriction, keeping what is still a controversial industry away from some of these public amenities,” Clark said.
The suggestion sparked conversation among trustees about the criteria used to license marijuana businesses. Currently, the board is only allowed to take the character of the neighborhood into consideration when deciding whether to allow extended hours for marijuana businesses.
Trustee Andy Miller said he felt that considering the needs of the surrounding area made more sense in a small community with different land uses in close proximity.
“For instance, the 1000 feet restriction (from Fraser Valley Elementary) really precluded our downtown from being a location for stores, which seemed a little silly when we had railroad tracks and an eight-foot chain link fence in between,” Miller said. “These fairly arbitrary numbers of feet don’t really take into account geographical features and the size of our community, being relatively small.”
The school proximity regulation is imposed by the state, but Miller said he felt the community should have more input in marijuana license hearings.
Clark said he agreed that the town should be able to consider the appropriateness of each license location on a case-by-case basis.
“In the past, attending the two licensing hearings, I felt like the board felt like they could not consider those factors, and I felt like they should be able to,” Clark said.
Regarding the park proximity regulation, Trustee Eileen Waldow said she thought current regulations were adequate.
“I think we worked hard on putting our code together,” Waldow said, adding that there’s already a high burden of responsibility on storeowners to control who is allowed to enter the store.
“I don’t think we should keep piling on these restrictions,” Waldow said.
Trustee Cody Clayton Taylor said he agreed with Waldow.
“There was an appropriate amount of time spent on that,” Taylor said. “As of right now we still only have, I think, two facilities in the Town of Fraser. I think it would also impede on the free market and competition.”
Clark also suggested the board cap the number of recreational marijuana licenses in Fraser at two.
Doing so would leave Clark’s business and Serene Wellness LLC the only recreational marijuana facilities Fraser.
Fraser already prohibits marijuana grow operations.
Waldow said she didn’t believe there was a need for the cap.
“We have two good stores right now,” Waldow said. “Anyone that comes in is going to research the market.”
Town Planner Catherine Trotter said the town’s current code structure and zoning layout is already self-limiting in the number of marijuana businesses that can operate in Fraser.
Trotter said that “one, perhaps two” other marijuana businesses could ostensibly open in Fraser.
“It seems like we’re pretty well protected then from proliferation just because of setbacks and the way the code is written,” Miller said.
Town Manager Jeff Durbin agreed that the town’s regulations are adequate.
The board declined further consideration of the two changes.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
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