Whether voters will pass a measure to allow recreational marijuana shops in Palmer Lake remained unclear Tuesday night.
As of about 10 p.m., 443 votes had been counted in support of the measure, and 530 were opposed, according to unofficial, preliminary results.
The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office couldn't say how many votes still had to be counted Tuesday night.
This could be the fourth time that the small foothills town rejects allowing recreational marijuana sales.
Residents voted against the issue in April 2014 and again in November 2014, when they also approved a three-year moratorium on recreational pot sales.
The town of about 2,500 again voted down recreational pot sales in 2016 by 916 to 714, Palmer Lake Administrator Cathy Green has said.
Mike Bromfield, an opponent of this year's measure, said he was "cautiously optimistic" that the measure would fail again but said the low voter turnout on the issue surprised him.
"It's possible that people are just tired of voting on this either way and perhaps just washed their hands of it and didn't vote at all," Bromfield said. "I don't know. I can't explain that."
The town’s sole medical marijuana dispensary, Palmer Lake Wellness Center, worked with local wholesale grower Alpine Essentials to collect the more than 100 signatures needed to get the question on the ballot.
Community for a Peaceful Palmer Lake argued that the measure would generate much-needed tax revenue for the police and fire departments and infrastructure.
"The town's infrastructure is old and in need of repair, and they just don't have the revenue to do it," said Dino Salvatori, owner of Palmer Lake Wellness Center.
To his disappointment, he said Tuesday night, he didn't think the measure would pass, based on the preliminary results.
El Paso County has two recreational marijuana shops, both in Manitou Springs, the only city in the county that has voted to allow the retailers. About 70 of the state’s municipalities — including Denver, Fort Collins and Pueblo — allow recreational sales, according to the Colorado Municipal League.
County voters also weighed in on the following local measures:
El Paso County question 1A appeared to pass. About 130,000 votes, or about 70 percent, had been counted in favor of the measure as of 10:50 p.m. About 54,800 votes, or about 30 percent, were opposed.
The measure extends the public safety sales tax — which was slated to sunset Jan. 21, 2021 — until 2029. The tax, about 2 cents on a $10 purchase, pays the salaries and benefits of 192 Sheriff’s Office employees and accounted for more than $20 million of the agency’s 2018 budget of about $75 million.
Fountain question 2C appeared to pass. About 3,400 votes, or about 72 percent, had been counted in favor of the measure as of 10:50 p.m. About 1,300, or 28 percent, were opposed.
The measure allows the city to out of a 2005 state law that bars local governments from entering the broadband market. This will allow the city to explore how it might provide better high-speed internet access to its residents and businesses.
Other local jurisdictions — including Green Mountain Falls, Manitou Springs and El Paso County — have voted to opt out of the legislation in recent years.
Jim Romanello appeared to have been elected to the Monument Board of Trustees. Romanello, who serves on the board for Village Center Metro District, had about 1,000 votes, or about 42 percent, as of 10:50 p.m. Ann Howe had about 880 votes, or about 36 percent. Kenneth Kimple had about 540 votes, or about 22 percent.
The seat was left open when former trustee Don Wilson was elected mayor last spring. With six members, the board couldn’t agree on an appointee. The new member makes seven.
Green Mountain Falls question 3A appeared to pass. About 160 votes, or about 63 percent, had been counted in favor of the measure as of 10:50 p.m. About 90 votes, or about 37 percent, were opposed.
The measure creates a valid lodging tax to replace revenue lost when the town stopped collecting its previous lodging tax after learning that it was inconsistent with state law.
Green Mountain Falls question 3D appeared to pass. About 130 votes, or about 54 percent, had been counted in favor of the measure as of 10:50 p.m. About 110 votes, or about 46 percent, were opposed. The measure would reduce the number of trustees on the town’s board from six to four, plus the mayor.