Carbondale debates tighter marijuana rules
Carbondale trustees are weighing the town’s marijuana regulations following complaints about odors from the heavy concentration of marijuana businesses in a neighborhood on the north side of town.
The changes may come in the form of reduced caps for marijuana licenses or expanding the distance marijuana businesses must be from one another.
In the meantime, the Board of Trustees nearly put the brakes on new marijuana licenses during their meeting last week.
Trustee Allyn Harvey proposed an emergency moratorium on all new marijuana licenses in Carbondale for up to six months, giving the town some “breathing room” to consider new regulations.
The town has seven different types of marijuana licenses, for: recreational retail stores, medical dispensaries, recreational grows, medical grows, testing facilities, and both recreational and medical manufacturing facilities, such as for infused marijuana products.
Carbondale has a cap of five for each category, and the recreational stores are the only category that have reached their max.
Other trustees didn’t think the moratorium would be effective. Trustee Pam Zentmyer wanted the board to focus on the town’s regulations keeping marijuana businesses a certain distance from one another.
For example, marijuana stores built on Main Street can’t be built within 400 feet of one another. Zentmyer proposed extending similar distance rules throughout town.
Zentmyer said she didn’t want to halt marijuana business development townwide to cover areas where it wouldn’t be burdensome on neighbors. Trustees Zentmyer, John Hoffmann and Katrina Byars voted the emergency ordinance down, while Mayor Stacey Bernot, and Trustees A.J. Hobbs and Harvey voted in favor. The tie means no moratorium.
Several tenants at 1101 Village Road complained to the board that marijuana businesses in their building and in the surrounding neighborhood are emitting odors harmful to their businesses.
The building runs on a shared ventilation system, they said, which blows the odor of marijuana right into their units.
Mike Friend, an owner of Sweet Leaf Pioneer, the only retail marijuana store at 1101 Village Road, said an inspector from the building department had come out after the complaints and cleared them from being the odor emitter.
The building department inspects a marijuana business’s odor control measures when it is first licensed, then periodically after that, said Friend. Sweet Leaf Pioneer uses a ventilation system segregated from the rest of the building, and the system uses carbon filters and pushes the filtered air out through the roof, he said.
Businesses on Village Road and Buggy Circle, an area about the size of two or three square blocks, hold 18 of the town’s 21 marijuana licenses.
Many marijuana businesses in town hold multiple licenses. For instance, if a business wants to grow marijuana and have a retail store, it needs a license for each of those functions.
Village Road and Buggy Circle have four up-and-running marijuana businesses. But that number could double, as another four businesses on those roads hold licenses and could open any day. These include retail stores, grow operations, one testing facility and manufacturing businesses.
When Carbondale started bringing in the marijuana industry, the board hadn’t envisioned these businesses clustering in one spot, Bernot said. Many homeowners associations have banned marijuana businesses from their properties, which is one reason they were pushed into Village Road and Buggy Circle, she said.
Bernot also said the distancing requirements didn’t go into effect in time to prevent the concentration of marijuana businesses on Village Road and Buggy Circle.
Friend, owner of Sweet Leaf Pioneer, said the town government left the marijuana businesses few locations to choose from through its zoning and ordinances, such as the ones dictating their distance from schools, rehabilitation facilities and each other.
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