By Dave Maxwell

A zoning ordinance seems to be the way the board of county commissioners will deal with the difficult question of applications for licensing, zoning and regulating marijuana establishments in Lincoln County.

After over an hour of discussions, comments and considerations from those in attendance, commissioners voted 4-1 on Nathan Katschke’s motion that he draft three ordinance options on the question of zoning regulations.

Katschke said, “If we wanted to have a new moratorium we had to have a new ordinance anyway, so we might as well make a decision to do something.”

Commissioner Kevin Phillips said, “It helps get us to the next step.”

After the options are drafted and brought back for the Feb. 19 commission meeting, board members may consider taking them to various town hall meetings in their specific districts, rather than having a single meeting at the courthouse in Pioche.

District Attorney Dylan Frehner noted even when the ordinance options are presented, “It will just be a first reading. You are not going to take any action at the time and then it goes to public hearing.”

Frehner said he expected one option would be to not allow for any zoning, marijuana growing or production in the county, one would be based on ordinances Caliente and Mesquite already have in place, and a third would be for permitting cultivation and processing.

Frehner pointed out that the county’s Jan. 2018 moratorium for 180 days expired in July, and was not extended by resolution.

He said he did not think passing another resolution would be able to extend the moratorium for another 180 days, “You would have to create another ordinance of some type.”

City of Caliente Mayor Victor Jones, whose city has licensed property for the growing and processing of marijuana, but not dispensing, said he thought the moratorium needed to be continued until some clear direction from the board could be given.

Frehner said it would take another 30-45 days for that to happen.

In the lengthy discussions, four commissioners expressed their views regarding not allowing marijuana operations in the county.

Board member Jared Brackenbury does favor having marijuana grown in the county “because of the added tax revenue and economic benefit it would bring to the county.” He does not support having a dispensary.

Commission chair Varlin Higbee said, “Once we have the three ordinance options together, then we can take them out to the public. Right now we don’t have anything to present to the people.”