GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A community preference for keeping Glenwood Springs High School centrally located when the new school was built five years ago is one more reason cited by Roaring Fork School District Re-1 officials for a greater setback between schools and retail marijuana shops.
An additional “whereas” pointing out that bit of history was included in an Re-1 school board resolution approved unanimously at the board’s meeting in Carbondale on Wednesday, requesting the Glenwood Springs City Council consider a 1,000-foot separation instead of 500 feet.
“When we built the new high school, it was the preference of the community to have it stay right in the heart of the community,” board member Bob Johnson said of the Grand Avenue high school location. “We agreed, and complied, and City Council also agreed and promoted it.”
At the time it began planning for a new high school, the school district had also been looking at potential sites on the south end of town or even outside city limits.
“I think it helps frame the history and why we’re wanting this,” Johnson said in requesting the addition to the resolution.
The resolution asks City Council to reconsider a 1,000-foot school setback provision as part of the city’s proposed new retail marijuana zoning and licensing ordinance.
Council will formally consider an ordinance at its Nov. 7 meeting that proposes a 500-foot setback between retail marijuana shops and existing public and private schools in Glenwood Springs.
The U.S. Department of Justice suggests a 1,000-foot setback in its recommendations to the state of Colorado, as the state begins to allow retail, recreational marijuana businesses under the voter-approved Amendment 64.
The less-restrictive setback is intended to allow several pre-existing, nonconforming medical marijuana dispensaries to expand into the retail market after Jan. 1, 2014.
Some existing dispensaries in the city are located more than 500 feet from schools, but less than 1,000 feet.
By comparison, city ordinances call for a 500-foot setback between schools and medical marijuana dispensaries. The city does not have a school setback requirement for liquor establishments, according to Glenwood Springs City Attorney Jan Shute.
“Because we have schools right in the heart of the community [including Glenwood High and Glenwood Springs Elementary School], we felt like the extra 500 feet would make a difference,” said Re-1 Superintendent Diana Sirko in encouraging the school board to pass the resolution.
“Especially with the open campus [for lunchtime] at the high school, we felt like this was an important issue,” she said. “It is an issue of access [to marijuana].”
Amendment 64 made it legal for adults age 21 and over to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana, and directed the state to set up a regulatory structure for retail sales of marijuana similar to state liquor laws. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.