The Mancos Town Board of Trustees on Jan. 28 unanimously passed an emergency ordinance that sets a temporary moratorium on new medical or retail marijuana businesses.
Town Administrator Andrea Phillips emphasized before the moratorium passed that it wouldn't affect businesses with pending applications.
Currently, the Bud Farm medical dispensary has an application pending. Ownership recently told the Mancos Times they planned to be open for retail by March.
Phillips explained that the legislation was prompted by an increase in interest from businesses outside the area looking for space for large-scale grow operations. The town statues on the books are a little hazy when it comes to addressing that, she said.
"We've gotten a lot of phone calls from places outside the area that want to cultivate or grow here," Phillips said of the rationale behind the emergency status of the ordinance. "We haven't had a chance to study how does Amendment 64 conflict with our own laws. This allows us time to do that."
She noted that with grow operations, the town doesn't receive the level of tax revenue it does with point-of-sale operations. The extra time the moratorium gives the town will let it weigh whether or not they even want large grow operations.
"The state gets an excise tax, and we might see a small percentage of that, and we would get the $3,000 license fee, but we're not getting the per transaction revenue," she said.
Since it was introduced as an emergency ordinance, no public hearing or second reading after introduction was required. However, Mancos resident Gina Roberts spoke in opposition of the moratorium, saying it was unnecessary regulation and a duplication of the town's existing planning and zoning requirements.
"Sizes (of grow sites) have been addressed through planning and zoning, so I don't see the concern there," said Roberts. "To me, it seems that this town has been under a moratorium longer than it hasn't."
Owners of the town's two pot businesses, Nathan Fete of The Shop and Jim Cody of the Bud Farm, both voiced opinions to the town board.
Cody praised the town board's handling of retail marijuana thus far, and noted that existing land-use code already addresses large-scale grow operations (larger than 2500 square feet) by requiring them to get a special-use permit via the Planning and Zoning Commission.
"Putting a moratorium on any type (of pot business) whether it needs a special use permit or not is a bit excessive," he said.
Nathan Fete, owner of the first recreational real shop in Montezuma County, said he was neutral on the moratorium but urged the board to keep lines of communication open between businesses as statute changes are made.
"I'm not for or against. It doesn't affect my business either way. We experienced a lot of issues in Cortez with what constitutes a change of use," said Fete. "There wasn't a whole lot of communication in other cities, and that stalled a lot of things."
The moratorium lasts until June 30, 2015.