Mayor Stu Fraser put the emphasis on the positive in his state of the town address, delivered at a meeting of the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday.
He cited the town’s accomplishments over the last year – including a new water line on main street and the completion of the Entrada affordable housing project – and then took note of the economic hit the town has taken at the hands of the recession.
But along with sharp budget cuts that affect every town resident, Fraser said, there come opportunities “to find new ways of doing business, new ways of providing energy and reinventing out visitor-based economy.”
“Telluride has an opportunity to become a new and unique destination in the otherwise cookie-cutter world of mountain resorts,” Fraser said. “Telluride has an opportunity to focus on preserving its past while creating a model community for alternative energy development and environmental self-sufficiency.”
Observing that the town was crowded over the holidays, Fraser said “it’s obvious we are clearly still in the throes of an economic upheaval.
“The economy may have hit bottom but we probably all can agree there does not appear to be a solid foundation in place.”
Fraser made a spirited defense of the real estate and second-home segments of the economy, after allowing that “much has been said about real estate and the importance of it to Telluride.”
“Without all of us, our school system would not be as vital, our affordable housing not as important, our economy not as varied, our nonprofits not as diverse and our ski area not as dynamic,” Fraser said. “Each one of us plays into the future of our community. Some who want town to be the same as in the seventies are frustrated because the town has grown up around them and in some cases in spite of them. Those who arrived later see Telluride as the answer to their dreams and aspirations. They are no different than those who arrived earlier. Telluride is an exceptional community. We are all fortunate to have shared time here….
“As we start this new decade we will all share in the challenges and successes. We will see new families and friends join us. We will also see the transition of those who choose to leave. Through all of this, Telluride will continue to grow with a vision of resiliency in environmental, social and economic concerns. It is my hope that we will continue to work together for common goals, while looking at the long-term future of this beautiful place that all of us call home.”
The Legal Dispensing of Medicinal Pot
New businesses that dispense medical marijuana in Telluride will be required to obtain a certificate of zoning compliance from the town if an ordinance approved on first reading on Tuesday by the Telluride Town Council is adopted on second reading later this month.
Colorado voters amended the state constitution to authorize the medical use of marijuana in 2000. Cities and towns around the state have begun to adopt regulations in response to a recent proliferation of dispensaries, with three opening in Telluride last year.
Applicants for a certificate of zoning compliance will have to submit a “dispensary plan” setting forth security provisions, hours of operation, the number of employees, and, if any cultivation is to occur, a plan for cultivation.
Applicants will also be required to maintain a current and valid business license and a sales tax license. A criminal background check will be required of the applicant and a dispensary’s employees, and a certificate of zoning compliance may be denied anyone whose history includes a felony offense.
Other provisions of the ordinance adopted on first reading by the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday regulate signage, prohibit on-site consumption of marijuana or consumption of alcohol on the premises, prohibit dispensaries within 500 feet of a school, and require security provisions. In addition, dispensaries must post a sign warning that the diversion of marijuana for non-medical uses is a violation of state law, that it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery under the influence of marijuana, that possession and distribution of marijuana is a violation of federal law, and that the smoking or consumption of marijuana in public is a violation of state law.
There are already three medical marijuana dispensaries in Telluride. They will not be subject to the new ordinance because they entered business prior to the imposition of a moratorium on any new dispensaries by the Telluride Town Council in October, pending the adoption of new regulations.
Telluride attorney Jennifer Fox cautioned council that some of the proposed restrictions could be too restrictive of a constitutional right and might subject the town to litigation, and while council expressed some concern, it moved forward following assurances from town attorney Kevin Geiger that he was confident in the constitutionality of the ordinance as drafted.
Accommodating a Steep Site
The Telluride Town Council on Tuesday followed recommendations made by the town’s lower planning boards and approved on first reading a minor zoning change that will facilitate construction on the south edge of town, above the Manitou Lodge, of a proposed triplex. In effect, rules that apply to construction on the north hillside will be applied to the south hillside, allowing the construction to be sited in a way that respects the topography but departs from the town grid.
Council stipulated, however, that it would formally visit the site prior to taking the zoning change up on second reading later this month. Approval on second reading is necessary for the zoning change to be complete.