Marijuana buffer changes could increase business options in Durango

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 10:09 PM
The Durango City Council discussed changing the buffers between schools and marijuana shops as well as between parks with play grounds and marijuana shops. The city could change how the buffers are measured.

There may be more opportunity for marijuana shops to open if the Durango City Council changes how mandatory buffer zones are measured.

The city must maintain 1,000-foot buffers between schools and marijuana shops and a 250-foot buffer between parks with playgrounds and pot shops.

However, if the city measured the buffer by the route a pedestrian would take between the two, instead of drawing a direct line on a map regardless of terrain, it could open up more opportunities for marijuana shops, Assistant Director of Community Development Nicol Killian said.

“I’ve always liked the pedestrian route because that’s the real route,” Councilor Dean Brookie said. Councilors Sweetie Marbury and Dick White also seemed to support the change because it would be consistent with how the city measures buffers for businesses with liquor licenses.

The council did not vote on the proposal.

The council is considering the change at the request of Animas Herbal Wellness Center. The business is considering a new space that is too close to schools to open under the current regulations.

“Any citizen can ask for a text amendment and that’s their legal right,” she said.

The council recently approved 250-foot buffers between marijuana shops in the Central Business District. The business buffer is not measured by pedestrian routes.

City Attorney Dirk Nelson advised the council that maintaining the more conservative and direct measurement might be more legally defensible and easier to manage.

“Having a pedestrian route is also somewhat unpredictable because we have to send someone out to measure every single site,” he said.