May 6, 2014 12:19 AM by Maddie Garrett

Retail Pot Moves Forward in Manitou as Petitioners Hope to Pass Ban

Retail marijuana is getting closer to becoming a reality in Manitou Springs, as the City Council is expected to approve the first site for retail pot sales Tuesday night. But it could all change, depending on what voters decide in November, with a referendum to ban retail marijuana in the city likely on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Maggie's Farm is moving forward with opening its dual marijuana dispensary at the new location on Manitou Avenue near Highway 24.

"They are hoping to open by the end of summer," said Manitou Springs Planning Director, Wade Burkholder.

The City Council and Planning Commission already approved Maggie's Farm to sell medical marijuana, and the city is likely to give the green light to a conditional use permit to sell recreational marijuana Tuesday night.

"Their intentions are to still open the medical facility in addition to the retail," said Burkholder.

The city's code has a limit of only two retail marijuana shops being allowed, outside of Manitou's historic district. The other medical marijuana dispensary in town, also located on the east side of Manitou Springs, is also working on its retail application.

"It's my understanding that they are processing and will be submitting eminently," Burkholder confirmed.

There's a growing number of voices though, that don't want recreational pot in Manitou, even after council approved it in January. Business owner Tim Haas, who owns the Garden of the Gods Trading Post, the Manitou Trading Post and other shops, said he fears recreational marijuana sales could drive down tourism and reduce sales tax revenues.

"I think that there will be some people that choose not to come to Manitou Springs as a result of this," he said.

Petitioners already have more than enough signatures to put the referendum to a vote.

"Personally I have no question this will be on the ballot in November," Haas said.

If voters say "no" to retail pot in November, it's unclear what will happen to the two businesses, likely to already be selling recreational marijuana for months before the vote takes place. Burkholder said he's not sure what the city will do if voters ban retail pot, but there will be options.

"There's potential that these shops will be grand-fathered and could continue operating," he explained.

So far though, Maggie's Farm is on track, Burkholder said they're working closely with the owner and everything in the application is in order.

He said parking and traffic are likely to be the biggest issues with approving the conditional use permit, because the site sits at the corner of a busy intersection. One solution the City and Maggie's Farm is working on is leasing additional parking for overflow at the site.

"We certainly don't want traffic backups onto Cimarron, 24," said Burkholder.

Council will likely discuss this issue Tuesday night, as increased traffic will probably come with the first retail pot shop in El Paso County.

The Manitou Springs City Council meeting is Tuesday night at 7:00pm.



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