Bayfield Town Board trustees voted in 2013 not to allow the sale of marijuana in Bayfield town limits. The ban also extended to marijuana-related businesses, such as cultivation or testing.
Because of a state law requiring a plan extending three miles beyond town limits before annexing land into town, the marijuana ban also extends three miles beyond town boundaries. The La Plata County Board of Commissioners agreed to honor the pot ban in the town's three-mile plan.
On Tuesday, a couple who lives outside of Bayfield came to the town board meeting and said they were considering opening a marijuana-related business and would like to locate it within the three-mile area, asking board members if they would consider changing the policy.
Later in the meeting, board members discussed if they would want to change the three-mile restriction.
Five trustees said they would be willing to discuss it, while two said no.
"This is the area that Bayfield will annex someday," said Michelle Nelson Yost of her wish to keep the three-mile rule in place. If a dispensary is allowed there, then the town annexes it, it would violate town law. J.J. Sanders was the other trustee who said he wants to keep the ban in place.
Mayor Matt Salka and trustees Kristin Dallison, Rachel Davenport, Matthew Nyberg and Kelly Polites said they might be willing to have a discussion on the topic, but only pertaining to the three miles beyond town limits.
Town Manager Chris LaMay recommended the board take public comment on the issue.
Jeff Robbins, the town attorney, said such a move would require more than a vote from the town board, it also would involve changing the town's agreement with the county.
"I think you should know all the consequences, intended or otherwise," Robbins said.
Salka said one of his main concerns about the topic is town staff spending a lot of time on it when they have a lot of other tasks to handle.
LaMay said he could bring it to the board as a discussion item at a future meeting, and trustees nodded in agreement.
Affordable housingEarlier in the meeting, the board received a presentation from Karen Iverson, director of the Regional Housing Authority.
She gave trustees some interesting facts about housing in the county and in Bayfield.
The town has 970 houses and lower vacancy rates than the county and in Durango. Only 6 percent of homes in Bayfield are vacant, compared to 12 percent in Durango and 19 percent in the county. That is due to the higher number of second homes in those areas, she said.
More residents in Bayfield own their own homes, 72 percent compared to 49 percent in Durango and 68 percent in the county.
Bayfield also has more affordable housing than the other areas, she said.
Housing prices have increased more in Bayfield than the other areas of the county, "and incomes are not keeping up with home prices," she added.
Home values have climbed enough to where Bayfield might start seeing more housing developments in the future.
Demographers estimate the county needs to have between 560 to 770 new houses or apartments every year to keep up with growth.
"That's double what we're doing now," she said.
To encourage more residential growth, if that's what the board wants to promote, Iverson recommended the following:
Reduce the minimum lot size in town. Allow "granny flats" or accessory dwelling units. This also provides more income to town residents who can rent out an attic or other small space.Simplify and streamline the town planning process.Support using public lands, such as parcels of land owned by school districts or the county, for affordable housing development.Fox Fire deed restrictionsIn other action, the board decided that the town should continue enforcing the deed restrictions in the Fox Farm subdivision. Earlier this year, an owner of a home in Fox Farm said she was told her home did not have any deed restrictions on her property, then found out she did. Representing other neighbors in the subdivision as well, she asked the town to remove the restrictions.
In his report to the board, LaMay said he had concerns that the grants the town received from federal and state agencies to build the neighborhood might have to be given back if the town agreed the restrictions could be lifted.
Board trustees unanimously agreed the deed restrictions should stay in place.
"We need to keep some affordable housing options in the community," Yost said.
Nyberg said lifting the restrictions could result in too much liability for the town.
Resolution supporting county road and bridge taxIn a close vote, the board narrowly approved a resolution supporting La Plata County Ballot Question 1A, which would increase property taxes for county roads and bridges.
Dallison, Yost, Salka and Polites voted yes to support the resolution. Nyberg, Davenport and Sanders cast no votes.