By Don Nelson

Retail sales of marijuana may be allowed as a conditional use in the industrially zoned Horizon Flats area, under an amendment to the zoning code adopted last week by the Winthrop Town Council.

Austin Lott, who had earlier sought and was denied a change in the zoning code to allow the retail marijuana sales shop he hopes to open in Horizon Flats, has applied for a conditional use permit, town planner Rocklynn Culp said this week.

Specifically, the ordinance amendment provides that “‘Marijuana retail’ means a business licensed [under state law] to sell only usable marijuana, marijuana-infused products, and marijuana paraphernalia at retail in retail outlets to persons 21 years of age and older.”

The amendment also notes that no local permit will be issued for a retail marijuana business unless it has state approval. Additionally, “a marijuana retail business shall not be considered to set a precedent, nor considered a similar use, for the purpose of allowing other retail trade and services.”

The council quickly and unanimously adopted the amendment, a quiet ending to what had been a drawn-out community discussion over the advisability of allowing a marijuana store in the Horizon Flats area.

Still, a couple of audience members expressed their concerns. Julie Muyllaert, a member of the Winthrop Planning Commission, said she was personally disappointed in the town’s action, and has concerns about the possible precedent and increased traffic in the Horizon Flats area.

Muyllaert said the decision seemed to be “not in the best interests of the community … but in the interests of an individual,” and said she hoped the council’s action will be a “one-of-a-kind” decision.

Lori Martin, who lives in the Horizon Flats neighborhood, echoed Muyllaert’s concerns and said she thinks a marijuana outlet will have a negative effect on the area.