Dillon hammers out retail marijuana, home growing regulations
On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the town of Dillon will begin the process of ending its moratorium against retail marijuana establishments.
The Dillon Town Council is scheduled to consider a series of new ordinances outlining its policies for retail marijuana sales and residential cultivation. The town’s prohibition of medical marijuana establishments remains in effect.
According to drafts of the three ordinances, retail marijuana stores will be permitted in Dillon’s commercial and mixed-use zoning districts, with some restrictions. All other retail marijuana uses permitted under Amendment 64, such as product manufacturing facilities, large-scale grow operations and product testing facilities, are prohibited in town.
“Speaking to the grow operations, we just didn’t think there was enough room to have such a facility in town,” said Ned West, Dillon’s town planner. “Those concerns also leant to product manufacturing facilities, which also has that industrial feel and need for space.
“There’s only three testing labs in the state and they’re all in Denver, but we just didn’t think a laboratory was a good fit for Dillon.”
Councilman Louis Skowyra was vocally supportive throughout the legislative process of all the permitted uses under Amendment 64 and didn’t want to be any more restrictive than what the voters approved in November 2013.
“Looking back at our town forum (in February), the turnout was right in line with the actual Amendment 64 vote — about two thirds were for it and one third was against it,” Skowyra said. “There were a lot of questions about where a manufacturing facility would go, but I thought Dillon was a perfect place for a testing facility, especially with the popularity of hash pens and all of the explosions we hear about.
“But I think the route we’re taking is conservative and smart for Dillon, and I don’t think it prevents us from considering these other uses in the future if someone thinks we have a need.”
Among some of the restrictions up for discussion Tuesday are proposed 300-foot setbacks between retail shops and churches, parks, public open spaces and residences. The town also has drafted 1,000-foot setbacks between retail shops and schools, child care facilities, college campuses, correctional institutions and public housing projects.
Taking those restrictions into consideration, West said there are 24 parcels that could potentially house a retail marijuana establishment. None of those parcels are located in the Dillon town core.
Instead, the permissible lots are located in Dillon’s more commercial areas, West said, including the southern portion of the Dillon Ridge Shopping Center, portions of Red Mountain Plaza, all of West Anemone Trail and U.S. Highway 6, portions off Little Beaver Trail and mixed use areas at The Ridge at Dillon.
Future stores will be allowed to operate between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week, but the word “marijuana” and any images associated with the plant or devices used to consume marijuana are prohibited from being used in business signage. Marijuana products and accessories may not be displayed so they are visible from the exterior of the business.
Although the new regulations take effect five days after final passage — which likely would take place during the Aug. 19 regular town council meeting — budding business owners can’t apply for a retail license until Oct. 1 in accordance with Colorado law.
The state set the Oct. 1 date for towns that did not previously have a medicinal marijuana facility within its borders following last year’s passage of Amendment 64. The state allowed existing medicinal marijuana establishments to convert to retail beginning Jan. 1 of this year.
The cost of a new retail marijuana business license in Dillon is $3,000. There also is an annual renewal fee of $1,500.
In addition to paving the way for retail marijuana businesses in town, Dillon officials drafted regulations to permit residential grow operations of marijuana for personal consumption.
According to those guidelines, persons over the age of 21 may have up to six plants at a time, but only three of those plants are allowed to be mature, or flowering. Residences are capped at 12 plants, regardless of how many people are residing in the home. Only six plants may be in the flowering stage at a time.
The Dillon Town Council passed its moratorium on retail marijuana establishments in September 2013. At the time, town officials cited the strategic advantage of watching how retail would be handled by neighboring municipalities before drafting their own regulations.
In January, town officials discussed floating a ballot initiative asking the voters to approve a 5 percent excise tax on future retail marijuana sales. That tax passed during the April municipal elections.
In February, Dillon officials hosted a town forum seeking comments about how retail marijuana should be regulated if the town lifted its moratorium. Many of the regulations being proposed Tuesday were a result of some of that feedback, West said.
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