At its Sept. 10 regular meeting, the Estes Park Town Board set an election date of Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, for voters to decide on a citizen-initiated ordinance to permit the operation of a limited number of marijuana facilities within Town limits. Registered voters within town limits may vote in the mail-ballot election, and a simple majority will determine if the ordinance is adopted. Ballots will be mailed the week of Nov. 18. The complete proposed ordinance with petitions and Statement of Sufficiency are available at www.estes.org/petitions. For more information, please contact the Clerk's office at 970-577-4777. Election updates will be posted at www.estes.org/elections.
Mayor Todd Jirsa commented, "The Town's role at this time is to simply carry out the election, supporting the wishes of the voters and the democratic process. We encourage interested citizens to form issue committees to campaign, whether in support of, or opposition to, the ordinance." Any individuals who intend to raise funds to campaign for or against the initiated ordinance are required to register as an issue committee with the Town Clerk's office.
In accordance with Colorado Revised Statutes Title 31, the election timeline is based on the date the signed petition was submitted by the petitioners (July 31) and subsequently, the date the Town Clerk issued a Statement of Sufficiency for the petition (Aug. 28), which must be within 30 days of its submission. Within 20 days of the Statement of Sufficiency, the Town Board has only two options. It may either adopt the ordinance as submitted, or refer the ordinance to the voters at a municipal election. Since the board did not adopt the ordinance, the ordinance was required to be referred to the registered electors of the municipality at a regular or special election held not less than sixty days and not more than one hundred fifty days after the final determination of petition sufficiency. The election may not be held within 90 days of a regular Municipal Election (April 7, 2020) or within 32 days of the General Election (Nov. 5, 2019). The special election cost is estimated at $20,000 excluding staff time.
If approved by voters, the initiated ordinance will allow the operation of retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana stores, medical optional premises and medical marijuana centers allowed in the Commercial Outlying and Commercial Heavy zoning districts with a 1000-foot setback from schools. The Town would establish administrative rules outlining the application and licensing process. If approved, a separate election is required to impose sales and excise taxes on revenues from marijuana facilities, which would be during the April 7, 2020 Municipal Election.