Marijuana sales in Bayfield?

Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 1:51 PM

Past proposals to sell marijuana in the Bayfield town limits haven't just been met with "no." It's been more like "heck, no."

This was after dozens of people would pack the Bayfield Town Hall chambers during past meetings and say they didn't want pot dispensaries in Bayfield.

On Tuesday night, a vastly different kind of gathering took place during the town board meeting. Five people spoke in favor of selling pot legally in town, and no one spoke against it.

The trustees for the Town of Bayfield, after a 7-0 informal poll, asked Town Manager Chris La May to look into what retail sales might look like in Bayfield and what sales taxes and fees they could generate.

Jackie Morlan, a resident of Mill Street, asked the trustees to consider overturning their past decision, which banned sales and commercial cultivation of marijuana in town.

"We are losing huge amounts of tax money to Durango," she said, and to some extent, Pagosa Springs.

Downtown Bayfield needs an economic shot in the arm, particularly after the drug store moved north of the highway, she added.

Cortez has five dispensaries, Mancos has two, Durango has 10, with more possibly coming, and there are four in Pagosa Springs, Morlan said. Durango now earns more tax money from marijuana dispensaries than liquor stores. The town of Mancos has a transaction fee of $3 per sale, which has brought in $143,000 this year, and a total of $366,000 in taxes and fees from pot is projected for this year.

Such a boost in tax income could fund more recreation in Bayfield, along with police officers and senior services, she said.

At the beginning of the meeting, in public comments, four people said pot sales in Bayfield would benefit the town.

"I'm very pleased to see this reconsideration," said David Black, who remembered he was about the only person who spoke in favor of it during past discussions of the topic.

Another resident noted that a majority of voters in three of Bayfield's precincts supported Amendment 64 in 2012, which legalized recreational marijuana sales in Colorado. People who are traveling to Durango to buy pot would rather buy it in Bayfield, he added.

Mayor Matt Salka said he would like more information for the board to consider.

"I'd like to take it really slow," said Michelle Yost, who is the only trustee who was on the board when the previous requests were considered. "I don't want to screw it up."

If the board does decide to vote on the issue, a public hearing will be required.

In other actionThe board approved, on a 7-0 vote, an ordinance allowing multi-family residential units in downtown Bayfield and commercial properties. "The intent is really to go above," La May said of proposed apartments on top of business and retail space on the ground floors.

"This makes a lot of sense to me," Black said during the public comments. He owns business property in downtown Bayfield, and he thinks a combination of commercial and residential uses could help property owners hold on to their land.

Pierce and Brenna Morlan were appointed this fall to the board to serve out the terms of J.J. Sanders and Rachel Davenport, who both resigned.

Phyllis Ludwig thanked the trustees for helping the board of Schroeder Ditch come to an agreement with local developers building new homes in Clover Meadows about a ditch that runs through the development. After several meetings, the developer has agreed to pipe the ditch.The board honored Derick Campbell and Holly Cashwell for their five years of service on the Bayfield Marshal's Office, Becky Eisenbraun for five years at Bayfield Parks and Recreation, and Chris Choate for 10 years at the marshal's office.