The town of Palisade recently wiggled itself out of a sticky situation as it begins the process of welcoming marijuana businesses to town.
Town trustees last week placed a three-month moratorium on accepting conditional-use and rezoning applications that relate to possible retail marijuana businesses due to a rash of filings from hopeful licensees.
The move was necessary because a number of people preparing to submit applications to Palisade to open retail marijuana businesses also sought multiple rezoning and conditional-use permits on a number of potential sites where marijuana businesses might be located, Town Administrator Rich Sales said.
Taking all those requests through separate public hearings for a limited number of licenses would require months of work and wouldn’t constitute “good government,” Sales said at a meeting last week.
“What we were seeing is people who would like to have a retail marijuana license coming in with six to seven properties asking to do rezoning and conditional-use permits on all of them,” Sales said. “It looked to me like all of a sudden we have more than a dozen properties for two licenses.”
Trustees agreed to enact the moratorium, but it can be lifted prior to the 90-day timeline.
Voters approved retail marijuana sales and businesses for the town in November. Town trustees subsequently allowed for a limited number of the businesses to operate in town limits. Two retail marijuana store licenses will be granted to qualified applicants who will be selected in a lottery-type drawing slated for a future public meeting.
But the tricky part is that people who want to open a retail marijuana establishment must show they own or have a lease on a site to operate the business. It’s one of the requirements for the chance to obtain one of the two licenses. Applicants have until Friday to submit applications to the town that include details like business, operating and security plans. Licenses are approved after potential business owners pass Palisade’s requirement of obtaining a conditional-use permit and obtaining the correct zoning.
“It’s unfortunate they have to have a site (to be considered) for a license, but we have so few licenses,” Sales said. “We have people all over town looking for sites.”
Sales said according to the number of people calling him daily, he thinks up to roughly 15 applicants will submit their names in the drawing for the two retail marijuana shop licenses.
After names are chosen, those applicants are required to gain state approval. The state has 90 days to approve applications, but Sales said state marijuana officials have told him they will prioritize Palisade applicants.
Palisade’s sole medical marijuana facility, Colorado Alternative Health Care, is guaranteed an option to apply for a retail marijuana license, trustees previously determined.
Store co-owner Jesse Loughman said last week the store is slated to go before the Palisade Planning Commission at a July 10 hearing and is scheduled for a hearing the following day with Palisade trustees for approval of a conditional-use permit.
Loughman then needs to gain state approval to open Palisade’s first recreational marijuana store.