Palisade grapples with pot questions
Now that Palisade residents have approved recreational marijuana, the hard part begins.
How many licenses will the town extend to business owners, and, if there’s a limit, who will get them?
Where should shops and grow operations be located?
What kind of hours should they keep?
Do odors matter?
A Palisade public meeting Tuesday night packed council chambers with residents wall to wall, as it was the first chance for community input. Town trustees say they’ll take as much feedback as people want to give. A questionnaire should be available soon, and people can comment through the town’s website at townofpalisade.org.
“This isn’t the only time you get to tell us what you think,” Trustee Thea Chase said. “Feel free to send us comments. This is an important issue and we want to make sure to keep it open.”
A number of people at Tuesday night’s meeting were most interested in how town trustees would grant licenses. Municipalities across Colorado have run the gamut on this point, with some allowing open season on their number of licenses and others heavily restricting the number of businesses that can locate in in their towns.
Palisade Town Administrator Rich Sales said he’s researched the process Arvada used, using a points system to evaluate business owners and using a lottery system to choose from the best, depending on the number of business licenses trustees decide to issue.
“The town’s attorney said after an initial process, it’s safest to put people in a hat and draw out the number that’s appropriate,” Sales said. “The board is not inclined to follow that. I don’t know where the board’s headed.”
Palisade has enacted a moratorium until May to stave off the opening of any stores or recreational marijuana businesses until the ground rules are set. The moratorium covers all the related recreational marijuana businesses, but the moratorium can be lifted or extended for any of the types of businesses should trustees come to agreement on regulations.
Some residents said Palisade’s emerging future as a hub for recreational marijuana already has sparked interest in investors seeking buildings and land for potential businesses.
Also of note, Sales said irrigation water around Palisade could not be used for growing marijuana, as canal water is considered federally owned. Palisade’s town water is derived from the Grand Mesa and is owned by the town.
The town has plenty of water; it once sold a million gallons a month to serve the nearby coal-fired power plant.