Durango pot rules tighten

Sales in mixed-use neighborhoods are banned

The possibility of retail marijuana in mixed-use neighborhoods is dying after the Durango City Council took action Tuesday.

Reacting to resident-led opposition to a previous decision allowing recreational pot sales in mixed-use neighborhoods, especially around College Drive and East Third Avenue, councilors reversed course at Tuesday’s City Council meeting and decided to ban it completely in those neighborhoods. The final vote is scheduled for Aug. 5.

Durango City Clerk Amy Phillips approved four affidavits this month from lawyers for a group of residents who challenged the ordinances on retail marijuana, medical marijuana and the Durango Local Licensing Authority. The group also had challenged the vacation-rental ordinance.

A referendum is a proposal to repeal the law, which suspends the law pending the referendum vote. If the council rejects it, the proposal can go to a public vote.

Central to the council’s decision was information from a Colorado Department of Revenue study that evaluated out-of-state visitor demand. The study estimated that out-of-state residents represent 44 percent of metro-area retail sales and 90 percent of retail sales in “heavily-visited mountain communities.”

Planning Manager Nicol Killian said, “Is mixed-use neighborhoods really where we want businesses that bring in out-of-state tourism, or do we want to keep those in our other zones?”

Acme Healing Center on East Third Ave decided to withdraw its retail permit application July 8. Killian said the other medical dispensary in a mixed-use neighborhood, Rocky Mountain High Dispensary in Ptarmigan Center off East Animas Road (County Road 250), is in a condo building, and the condo association amended its rules to prohibit marijuana use.

Most of the other mixed-use neighborhoods appeared to fall within 1,000 feet of schools or are ineligible for other reasons.