Vail extends pot moratorium

VAIL — The Vail Town Council Tuesday again extended a temporary ban on retail marijuana sales in town. But the days may be numbered for the temporary ban.

Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve on first reading an ordinance extending the ban for another 60 days. The council will probably give final approval to the ordinance at its July 7 meeting.

George Ruther, director of the town’s community development department, told council members that extending the ban will give town staff a chance to collect council-requested research about the state’s retail marijuana business. The temporary ban means no one can apply for a retail license in town during that period.

Vail banned medical marijuana shops before the 2012 passage of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use and established a framework for legal retail sales. While the measure passed statewide with nearly 55 percent of the vote, the margin was closer to 2:1 in Eagle County, and greater still in Vail.

Despite that popular support, only one town, Eagle, currently allows retail or medical marijuana sales. The rest of the business is conducted in unincorporated Eagle County, with most businesses now operating in Eagle-Vail along a stretch of U.S. Highway 6 some have called the “Green Mile.”

Leaving the valley’s marijuana business where it’s now established is fine with Bob Armour, a longtime resident and former Vail mayor. Armour noted that Breckenridge has banned marijuana shops downtown and, through zoning, has required those businesses to move near the town’s airport.

“That’s farther away (from downtown Breckenridge) than Eagle-Vail is from here,” Armour said. Adding that Breckenridge, Telluride and Aspen have all approved retail marijuana, Armour said Vail can be different.

“We don’t need to be (those towns),” he said.

While most of the spoken and submitted comments were against Vail allowing retail marijuana operations, Avon resident Robert Takata argued passionately in favor of allowing it.

“Your (moratorium) extension is unacceptable,” Takata said. “It’s time to allow this.”

But council member Dale Bugby said this extension may lead to a final answer.

“Hopefully we’ll get to a permanent decision in a couple of months,” he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, or @scottnmiller.

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