The city’s Community Development Department received little feedback from residents Monday afternoon at a a public forum about possible changes to marijuana business buffers. About 10 people attended the meeting at the Durango Public Library.
Buffers are currently based on an “as the crow flies” measurement, unlike the most direct pedestrian route that applies to businesses with liquor licenses.
“The state of Colorado does not define how to calculate buffer measurements. We have been measuring our separation by perimeters of properties and a straight-line measurement,” planner Heather Bailey said.
Thousand-foot buffers exist around schools, some preschools, addiction treatment facilities where patients stay overnight and residential child care facilities, although none currently exist in the city.
Additionally, parks with playground equipment have 250-foot buffers, and 250-foot buffers were established around marijuana businesses in the Central Business District in April.
Most of north Main Avenue is buffered by schools, leaving very little property for prospective marijuana shops, Bailey said. This could change if the Durango City Council agrees to adopt the most direct pedestrian route measurement.
“It makes practical sense to align the methods with marijuana and alcohol businesses,” she added.
A straight-line buffer would remain between marijuana businesses, but the other changes could increase the presence of those businesses along north Main Avenue and downtown.
Colorado Springs, Canon City, Silverton and other municipalities use the most direct pedestrian route measurement, Bailey said.
Pat Senecal, director of Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition, said the city is more concerned with the needs of businesses than the health of local youth.
“The weight of thinking should be the quality of life for all ages and not how to increase businesses. It is not necessary to make these changes. We as a community can lead with a sensible policy,” Senecal said.
Resident Lauren Patterson agreed.
“I don’t want the density to be like that of tobacco when everyone smoked and it was considered a safe thing to do. I think there are 10 downtown businesses and that seems like plenty,” she said.
The Community Development Department will present a recommendation on June 26 to the city Planning Commission. Community members are encouraged to submit written comments over the next week to be presented.