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Bayfield keeping retail pot ban, for now

Economic, law enforcement issues to be studied

About 60 people filled Bayfield Town Hall on Tuesday, most of them raising their hands to show they opposed marijuana retail sales in Bayfield.

A few raised their hands to say they supported the idea.

Bayfield Town Board trustees discussed if they want to lift a ban on retail marijuana sales in Bayfield. Mayor Matt Salka asked for the show of hands. For now, the ban will remain in place.

Trustees directed Town Manager Chris La May to obtain a study of economic impacts retail sales would have in Bayfield, along with financial impacts such sales could have on the Bayfield Marshal’s Office and other public agencies.

After 10 minutes of public comments, in which three people spoke against lifting the ban and one asked for the studies, a majority of trustees said they want a vote on lifting or keeping the ban.

Under state law, only town residents are able to vote in municipal elections.

Holding an election on the issue would be a definitive way to let town residents decide the issue, trustees noted.

“I’d like to help squash this yearly dance we’re doing,” said Salka, noting that the topic of allowing retail marijuana sales has come up every year of the four years he has been in office. With an election, “we would have direction,” he added.

If an election is held, Brenna Morlan, a town trustee, asked if a number of years could be applied to keep the ban in place.

“I don’t want to do this over and over,” she said.

Trustee Kristin Dallison agreed a vote would more accurately reflect the views of Bayfield residents. Some people don’t want to attend a public hearing to support marijuana sales because they fear being ostracized, she added.

Currently, the town’s ban extends to three miles beyond the town limits, which is another provision of Colorado law. The ban also prohibits marijuana cultivation and manufacturing of marijuana products in that three-mile radius.

Another trustee, Jordon Pierce, asked if lifting the ban on cultivation and manufacturing within the three-mile limit is possible.

Trustee Michelle Yost moved to keep the ban in place while a study of the economic impacts is conducted, with the possibility of putting the issue to a public vote.

Morlan seconded the motion, which passed with six trustees voting yes.

Kelly Polites, another trustee, abstained from the discussion and vote. Polites has confirmed she looked at renting space for a possible marijuana retail location in town.

During the show of hands, Salka also asked how many people live in Bayfield. About a quarter of the room raised their hands. Several county residents were angry the question was asked, saying they pay sales taxes in town and noting that Bayfield is their home, as well.

Salka said he asked just to get a gauge of how many people attending the meeting were town residents and how many lived in the county.

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