February 17, 2022
February 17, 2022
Commissioners Scott Miller and Bill Bullock; and Administrative Officer Angela Newell were present.
8:30 Pledge of Allegiance.
Public Comment: Steve Roi, Robert Carson, and John Francis were present. Francis discussed proposed marijuana business interim zoning noting he is a proponent of legal marijuana. Francis objects to a deviation from the State’s regulations; believes should let the regulations in place play out until there really is a problem. Does not believe the dispensary across from the Roberts School will result in children obtaining or being more exposed to marijuana. Would be more concerned about traffic impacts, but does not believe there is any data to support impacts. Feels interim zoning is punitive. Concerned about proposed signage restrictions; he believes minimal signage requirements should be universally applied to all businesses not only marijuana businesses.
8:34 Commissioner Scott Blain joined the meeting.
Francis continued to express his concerns regarding permanent structure requirements for marijuana kiosks; he does not believe they should be different from a coffee kiosk. Again, mentioned traffic impacts noting that coffee has way more traffic. He does not know if the buildings will be a target for theft/robbery, would like to wait until it plays out more. Francis believes there are benefits of having local marijuana businesses vs. the industry opening up to out of state businesses.
Carson, the owner of Mountain Organics in Roberts, also met to discuss marijuana regulations. Carson was not aware that there were so many people upset about his business until he heard about last week’s meeting. Carson hopes to eventually reopen the gas station. He has not had many conversations with those in town, but would like to meet with groups including the school so he can address their concerns. Carson emphasized there will be no sales to children. As the father of a 6 and 8-year-old, he believes it is important to educate children about the importance of waiting until they are old enough to use marijuana. He noted there are security cameras surrounding the building; he is not sure what more he can do to prevent crime. Carson has had threats from people to burn down the building and is concerned about losing his investment. He cannot afford to get the gas station going without the other business opportunities to help support it. Carson believes the benefit of marijuana legalization include taking money off the black market and regulating the products. Confirmed that the convenience store and dispensary are separate entrances and separated by a wall. Noted he has no criminal record.
Blain asked if Carson owned the old Y-Stop building; Carson confirmed that he is currently leasing it. Blain noted the concerns are only about his location being across the street from the school and the signage that is visible from the school’s playground.
Bullock noted Roberts has the highest per capita density of dispensaries and bars in the County and probably in the state. Bullock noted the influx in applications has made the county want to slow things down so the County has the time to study the possible impacts. Bullock noted with Carbon County sharing borders with counties and a state where recreational marijuana is not legal there may be more traffic and impacts associated with legalization. Bullock encouraged Carson to engage the Roberts community to help “calm the waves”. Blain urged Carson to look for a different location not across the street from a school.
9:00 David Lehnherr joined the meeting.
Blain noted that the rest of the County voted overwhelmingly against marijuana legalization, including Roberts. The ballot issue only passed in the three Red Lodge precincts and the Red Lodge Rural precinct. Blain would like more restrictive regulations to start, noting it is easier to start stricter and back off.
Roi noted he signed the petition in opposition to Mountain Organics; the proximity to school is the main concern with the business.
9:19 Public Health Director Erin Cross and Human Resource Specialist Kate Asbury met with Commissioners’ for Cross’ probation review meeting. Meeting Closed.
9:50 Meeting reopened. Miller moved to approve the successful completion of Crosses’ probationary period; Blain seconded; motion carried.
9:55 Steve noted would like more information regarding the expected content of regular meetings with the City of Red Lodge. Bullock noted the time was set aside to keep each entity informed of issues being addressed by the other to better foster communication. Bullock noted various topics discussed with the City in past meetings including garbage control, recycling, large events, zoning, and staff turnover.
10:00 County Attorney Alex Nixon met with Commissioners for his regular meeting. Discussion about comments received on proposed marijuana interim zoning regulations and edits from Planning and Sanitarian. There was a discussion about adopting local business licensing for marijuana businesses; Commissioners were concerned with administrative burden of administering business licenses. Nixon suggested placing a minimum size for marijuana business buildings.
Blain asked if marijuana business locations could be limited to the precincts that voted in favor of the legislation; Nixon noted the County would have to create actual zoning districts rather than the current County wide zoning; he believes it would be more challenging to go that route. Bullock noted there has been a request from the Town of Bridger to create a buffer around city limits; Nixon believes this would also require the creation of zoning districts.
Miller moved to approve waiver request letter for Katie Day’s Insurance Waiting Period as her employment date was February 1st, but because of the short month would not have 30 days employment for coverage to start March 1st; Blain seconded; motion carried.
Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Officer