The Planning and Community Development Commission’s (PCDC) public hearing on potential medical marijuana zoning recommendations to the Board of Trustees (BOT) had all the makings of a storm of controversy bearing down on Lyons. Moms against marijuana on one side of the room; medical marijuana center owners on the other. A total of nineteen people showed up Monday evening (not including the three Trustees and the Mayor who stayed after their budget workshop) to listen to and participate in the discussion. Listen was just about all anyone did. When PCDC Chair Jeff Cornell asked how many people in the audience thought they might speak during the public hearing, only two people raised their hands. A tempest in a teapot.
Cornell prefaced the public hearing by speaking to the “uncertainties” surrounding the issue; the original constitutional amendment passed ten years ago, the new laws and regulations passed earlier this summer, the possible 1000 foot rule, a possible overlay district, and just the general uncertainties of how citizens feel about this issue. Town Planner Danna Ortiz gave a quick overview of what the proposed recommendation would say. Basically it would allow medical marijuana centers to operate in any commercial zone. Grow operations would be allowed only in light and general industrial zones, and in agricultural zones on a conditional basis. The production of medical marijuana infused products (edibles, tinctures, etc.) would only be allowed in light and general industrial zones. None of the afore mentioned uses would be allowed in residential zones. Growing for personal use (six plants or less) would be allowed in residential, however it wasn’t clear exactly how a “care giver” would fit into the regulations.
The two people who elected to speak on the issue, Lynn Johann and Cassie Rosekranz both residents of Stone Canyon, had issues and problems with the “Got Bud” sign at the eastern entrance of Lyons, deeming it “inappropriate.” They cautioned that signs such as this would negatively affect the “appearance” of Lyons for the thousands of people coming to our community. Johann also had reservations about allowing grow operations on agricultural land that abutts Lyons High School.
When Dan Ballard, owner of Lyons’ Finest Confidential Care, LLC (displayer of the offending sign) was later asked why he put up the sign, he said “I debated putting it out for a few days after it was given to me,” but he decided to put it out partly to protest the Town’s continued use of the word marijuana, rather than his preferred cannabis. He added that, “It quadrupled my sales almost overnight.”
Comissioner Steve Wratten spoke to the fears of having a grow operation next to the high school by pointing out that is why the PCDC made it a conditional use, so that there would be a measure of control over what went in the area. Comissioner Russ Huff explained that since the courts have limited (due to the First Amendment) the control that municipalities have over “content of signs” it was therefore prudent to err on the side of caution concerning the possible ban of new medical marijuana centers on Main Street between 3rd and 5th Avenues (the possible overlay district). Both Cornell and Vice Chair Marty Hine expressed “dissatisfaction” with the proposed recommendation, but Hine admitted he “couldn’t come up with anything better.” But he did say he would like the Town to conduct a survey to get a better feel of how the public feels about this issue. In the end, the PCDC voted unanimously to send the proposed recommendations to the BOT with the suggestion of the survey. The room then cleared out like they were giving away free marijuana in the parking lot. The October 25 minutes were approved, and the meeting was adjourned.