March 3, 2022
March 3, 2022
Commissioners Scott Miller, Scott Blain, and Bill Bullock; and Administrative Officer Angela Newell were present.
8:30 Pledge of Allegiance.
Steve Roi and Sanitarian Barbara Krizek were in attendance for public comment period. Roi and Commissioners discussed State use of marijuana tax, MACo conference and concerns expressed about the State using Marijuana tax to buy up land for conservation easements.
Miller moved to accept Commissioners Proceedings for February 8, 2022; Blain seconded; motion carried.
Miller moved to accept the District Court Balance Report, Treasurer Cash Report, and Clerk and Recorder Deposits Report for February 2022; Blain seconded; motion carried.
Lisa Bennett joined the meeting to discuss marijuana regulations. Also discussed bringing the Public Health Department in house; Error and Omissions and Liability insurance coverage; Fish Wildlife and Parks and grizzly bear management; and the detention facility bond and avenues to address inmate housing issues statewide with the legislature.
10:00 County Attorney Alex Nixon met for his regular weekly meeting, Newell presented his audit letter.
10:30 Marijuana Interim Zoning. Public Health Staff CJ Irwin and Charleen Austin; Sanitarian Barbara Krizek, Sanitarian Assistant Lori Kane, Tressa and James McGregor Beartooth Medicinal, Deputy Clerk and Recorder Lola Ashby, Carbon County News Eleanor Guerrero, Sanford Langager, Hanly Loyning, Bob Mensik, Roberts Carson Mountain Organics, Lidsay Thompson, Sam Langager, Kristin Keys, Michael Keys, Daniel Lucas Natures Fix, Cherie Moudragon, Lacy Kircher, Nick Dobbel, and Karen Clayson. Miller moved to open public hearing; Blain seconded; motion carried. Blain moved to amend Nonconforming Use(s) section vi.3 from 2 years to 6 months; Miller seconded; discussion Blain noted wording was copied and pasted from current Development Regulations where this language was implemented for seasonal businesses. Keys asked if closure for any reason would constitute abandonment including a fire or other natural disaster; Blain and Miller noted abandoned would not include an issue affecting a business operation for a period of time such as a fire. Thompson on behalf of Roberts School and staff noted how off-put they were by the business across the street being opened without any conversations with school or staff; Thompson noted kids on the playground are asking about the businesses’ flags and parents have expressed concerns to teachers; Thompson expressed concerns about the increase in robberies in the county and the possibility of marijuana businesses attracting more of that activity. Blain requested comments for now be limited to the proposed amendment. Sanford Langager asked about placing a limitation on number of shops allowed. Bullock redirected public comment to the motion at hand; no further comment. Motion carried.
Bullock opened up general public comment on the proposed Interim Zoning Regulations.
Thompson echoed her earlier comments that the signage is very catchy and attracting the eye of kids on the playground. 10:40 Roberts School Superintendent Alex Ator joined the meeting.
Sanford Langager expressed concerns that marijuana is a gateway drug, concerned that those that attend his bible studies have to cross the dispensary property. Stands against what he is doing there, concerned that the public and residents were not consulted; believes community was insulted. Would like a lottery to limit the number of businesses. Langager presented additional petition signatures to add to the petition that was delivered on February 10, 2022.
Tammy Helsper asked if the distances in the regulations will apply to the dispensary across from the Roberts School; Bullock noted signage can be addressed as a business operation, but the interim zoning probably will not affect existing businesses. Blain noted that if the current operator/leasee were to abandon his business another could not take up the business as zoning would apply. Discussion about the State’s 500-foot distance requirement; there is case law to support that the school and business must be addressed on the same street for the distance rule to apply. Bullock noted the legislature is likely to go back and amend regulations as they did with medicinal. He also noted concerns about the particular business in Roberts is why we are here today.
James McGregor owner of Beartooth Medicinal (license since 2014) believes that lack of communication is an issue and public discussions need to happen outside of Commissioners meetings; he urged members of the public to come visit with dispensary owners about their concerns.
Roi thanked commissioners and noted his support for the amended Resolution.
Rob Carson Mountain Organics dispensary owner echoed McGregor’s comments and encouragement for more communication, he also apologized for his lack of communication with the community. Carson would like to have discussions regarding what concerns with his business can be mitigated. He noted flags have been removed and will not fly during school hours. Carson noted that had he known he was going to upset people he probably would have moved on, but it was a good financial opportunity. Carson hopes he will be able to reopen the gas station which will be a benefit for the community.
Alex Ator Roberts School Superintendent thanked Carson for communications they have had in the last few weeks. Ator thanked Carson for taking down flags during school hours, noting it was a good start to better communications. Ator would appreciate that also be extended to after hours functions at the school. Ator would like language in the resolution about the setback requirements are measured. Presented letter in support of additional zoning, signage limitation, and closing business down even if it means not having a gas station.
Nick Dobel asked if setbacks apply to ball fields.
Bullock moved to amend setbacks so that parks and ball fields are measured from property line to property line; Blain seconded; comment McGregor asked that marijuana businesses be treated as other businesses including alcohol and gambling, he also believes residential setbacks are over restrictive. Keys noted limiting the number of dispensaries is not necessary; like the establishment of bars after alcohol prohibition was lifted, only a certain number will be able to survive, two have already failed in the first two months of recreational sales. Noted the benefits of marijuana to get off pharmaceuticals noting that prescription pain management drugs are a gateway drug. No-one under 21 w/o medical card can enter an establishment; heavy state regulation 3 inspections in 2 months. Helsper agreed that communication is key, noting it was unfortunate more communication did not happen sooner. Noted Roberts is unincorporated and relies on County zoning for the development in the community. Roi noted his support for 1,000 ft setbacks based on property lines. Blain discussed the need to balance personal property rights for those that own the businesses (or own the property the business is leasing) and those that surround the business. Dole asked if there were other businesses that are a federal crime. Discussion ensued regarding the comparison between marijuana and alcohol. Motion carried.
11:30 Blain moved to close public hearing on Interim Zoning; Miller seconded; no comment; motion carried.
Blain moved to adopt Resolution 2022-07 To Enact Interim Zoning Regulations on the Sale and Production of Marijuana and Marijuana Businesses by Revising Section VII-A Group 2 Uses of the Carbon County Development Regulations; Miller seconded; Blain noted the Interim Regulations can be in place for 1 year while the County studies the issue and works to adopt permanent regulations. Blain also noted the issue of recreational legalization could be put back up to a vote. Blain noted regulations make it harder for new businesses to come in but the County cannot set a quota; market forces will weed out the business that are not profitable. Miller noted the industry needs to do its part to promote public acceptance of legal marijuana; the government’s role to provide safety for the community and to give everyone time to understand the industry as it is still a federal crime. Blain asked for point of clarification on pending Group 2 Development Applications; current draft regulations only apply retroactively to signage. Blain moved to amend the Nonconforming Uses to add the following: This code is made expressly retroactive and shall apply to all applications for sign permits, building permits, zoning variances, zoning special exceptions, zoning changes, and all other applications for building and land use permits, land divisions, development activity, land use activity, and land use changes which have been received by the County and not granted as of the effective date of this code.
Mandeville noted there are currently 4 applications in process, some are in the 30-day public comment period or 15-day period after the close of public comment to issue permit. The Mountain Organic’s application is in its last days of public comment; discussion regarding the Mountain Organic’s property already being designated as commercial (historic Y-Stop property) and did not cease commercial use for a two-year period. Mandeville noted McGregors have a Group 2 permit, but Keys was told because it was an existing commercial property it did not apply to the requirements for a Group 2 Permit. Papez recommended some changes to the amendment as the language was based off of City regulations which are a little different. Blain amended his motion to add: This code is made expressly retroactive and shall apply to all applications for Group 2 Development Permits which have been received by the County and not granted as of the effective date of this code; Miller seconded.
Clayson voiced support. Keys noted dispensary owners would like to establish a cannabis association to help guide development of new businesses and to self-police marijuana businesses to protect their licenses and investments. Ator noted his support for the retroactive amendment. Group 2 applications would require notarized statements from neighbors within the 1,000 ft. setback; motion carried.
No further discussion on the adoption of Resolution 2022-07 as amended. No further public comment. Motion carried.
12:00 Blain moved to reopen the Public Hearing for Presenting to the Qualified Electors the Question of a 3% Local-Option Marijuana Excise Tax Pursuant to HB 701; Miller seconded. All three commissioners noted the support they have heard from public. Discussion regarding use of tax; Commissioners noted they had discussed using the tax to decrease property taxes, but thought it would be disingenuous to include it in the resolution because of the financial needs of the County and municipalities. Helsper asked about using revenues for anti-drug education; Bullock noted 20% of State taxes go to mental health and addiction issues and Fish Wildlife and Parks. Blain noted the County currently spends about $90k per year on mental health services via the South Central Regional Mental Health Center. Discussion about public infrastructure that could support mental health. Ator also supported the inclusion of mental health / prevention services in tax revenue uses. Clayson echoed including local tax revenues to support Public Health function. McGregor would like tax used to provide education regarding the reproductions of marijuana, but noted having tax too high could push sales back to the black market. Blain moved to close the public hearing; Miller seconded; Motion carried.
Blain moved to adopt Resolution 2022-05 to Public Hearing for Presenting to the Qualified Electors the Question of a 3% Local-Option Marijuana Excise Tax Pursuant to HB 701; Miller seconded; motion carried.
Emailed public comments are attached.
Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Officer