On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the Dillon Town Council passed a series of ordinances laying the foundation for retail marijuana businesses in town.
Three ordinances were presented by Dillon town planner Ned West, who has been working on regulatory language since September 2013 when the Dillon Town Council voted to extend its moratorium on retail pot sales.
Despite months of work to bring an end to that moratorium, Councilwoman Terry King said she would not back the proposed ordinances.
“I’m kind of worried about what I call the ‘can of worms’ we’ve opened here,” King said. “We’ve seen a lot of other towns go back and amend their retail marijuana ordinances, and I wish we could go to the voters to find out exactly what they want.
“I’ve been approached by a lot of people who are mad about what we are doing and I’m just not comfortable with the direction we are going.”
Despite King’s objections, all three ordinances presented passed, 5-1, on first reading. Councilman Tim Westerberg was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Essentially, the first ordinance would bring an end to the existing moratorium on retail marijuana and add all relevant regulatory language to Dillon’s town code, West said. Although the ordinance permits retail marijuana businesses in Dillon, large-scale grow operations, product manufacturing facilities and laboratory testing sites — all of which were approved by voters with the 2013 passage of Amendment 64 — would continue to be prohibited in town.
Additionally, retail marijuana shops would be required to abide by a 300-foot setback from churches, parks, public open spaces and residences. The ordinance also features 1,000-foot setbacks between retail shops and schools, child care facilities, college campuses, correctional institutions and public housing projects.
The second ordinance amends the town code to permit retail marijuana shops in Dillon’s commercial and mixed-use zoning districts. Taking into consideration the proposed setbacks, West said earlier this week there are 24 parcels that could potentially house a retail marijuana establishment. West added Tuesday that there are not 24 vacant commercial or mixed-use buildings in town.
The last ordinance would set the fees for a retail marijuana business license. The proposed first-time fee for a new license is $3,000. Annual renewals would cost $1,500.
Town clerk Jan Thomas said those fees are comparable to what neighboring municipalities implemented prior to the first of the year, when the first wave of retail marijuana sales began.
The public will get the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed regulations when the ordinances come up again Tuesday, Aug. 19, on second reading.
The ordinances legislate only retail marijuana business activity. Medical marijuana will continue to be prohibited in Dillon.
Should the ordinances pass later this month, they will go into effect five days after the Aug. 19 meeting. However, because Dillon does not have existing medical marijuana establishments, it will not be able to accept retail business applications until Oct. 1, according to state law.
“I’m kind of worried about what I call the ‘can of worms’ we’ve opened here. We’ve seen a lot of other towns go back and amend their retail marijuana ordinances and I wish we could go to the voters to find out exactly what they want.”
Councilwoman Terry King