A marijuana plant

Aurora City Council to see pot recommendations

Marijuana grow operations in Aurora would be only in industrial areas, the number of retail pot shops would be capped at 20, and they would have to be at least 5,000 feet from one another, according to recommendations from a City Council committee.

On Monday, the Aurora City Council will see those recommendations and others for the first time, compiled by the ad hoc Amendment 64 committee, at a special study session.

City Councilman Bob Roth, chairman of the committee, said that at an upcoming committee meeting, the board will deal with more specifics, such as defining public consumption.

The consumption issue has been thorny in Denver, where the City Council last week gave initial approval to a ban on smoking pot in front yards and on front porches and balconies.

The biggest change in Aurora’s recommendations is the distance that retail pot shops must be from schools, day cares, hospitals and churches. The committee, which also included council members Barb Cleland and Molly Markert, is recommending that stores can be no closer than 500 feet from those “sensitive uses.”

Previously, the committee had explored a buffer of 1,000 feet from schools, hospitals and churches.

Cleland said the recommendations are only that, and the council can further delve into the regulations. She said she is not sold on the 500-feet distance from schools.

“I haven’t made my mind up on that,” Cleland said.

The committee is also recommending that pot shops be no closer than 5,000 feet from each other, a change from earlier suggestions of a mile apart.

The city’s street system is on a grid pattern, and major thoroughfares are about a mile apart. Changing the distance to 5,000 feet gives more flexibility as to where shops can locate.

The retail marijuana shops will be restricted to areas of the city that are zoned for business/office and mixed-use, and marijuana grow operations to industrial areas, mainly in the northern part of the city. The committee also recommends that the city license marijuana operations.

Also to be decided is how the city will issue licenses for marijuana shops, whether it’s on a first-come, first-served basis, a lottery or another system.

Aurora has placed a moratorium on recreational-marijuana stores to better study the issues. Unlike Denver, Aurora doesn’t have medical-marijuana shops, so the earliest they can open in the city will be in October. Denver can begin issuing licenses in January.

“Every time we met, we were kind of drinking out of a fire hose,” Roth said. “There were so many things to consider, potential setbacks, distances between shops, signage, all kinds of things.”

Carlos Illescas: 303-954-1175, cillescas@denverpost.com or twitter.com/cillescasdp

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