The Dolores Town Board will decide at its Tuesday, Nov. 12, board meeting on a retail marijuana moratorium that expires at the end of the year.
There are three options, said Interim Town Manager Ken Charles.
Trustees can extend the moratorium, they can vote to allow or ban retail marijuana facilities, or the matter can be put on the ballot for residents to decide.
If approved, the town would need to develop regulations required under state statutes, and could add some regulations of their own. The process would take six months to a year before any shops could open. The moratorium would have to be extended until regulations are in place.
Under state rules, a transaction fee can be added by towns for retail marijuana sales, but the fee must be approved by voters.
It was suggested that if there was a ballot question, approval should be contingent on the transaction fee also being approved by voters.
“Otherwise, (marijuana sales) could be voted in but we might not have the revenue benefits from it,” said board member Val Truelsen.
The board held public meetings on the issue, and conducted independent research gathered from towns of similar size that allow pot sales.
“We’ve gone through the information-gathering process,” said Dolores Mayor Chad Wheelus. “The pros and cons have been presented, so at some point we need to make a decision.”
The town has also been discussing the issue with Mancos and Cortez, which both legalized retail marijuana. The Mancos Town Board voted to approve the sales, and the Mancos voters passed a $3 transaction fee that generates positive revenues for town projects.
If Dolores decided to go forward with pot sales, board members said earmarking additional tax funds should be discussed.
It could be allocated specifically for things like open space, recreation, tourism, education or public works projects, said Trustee Jen Stark. Funds could also be earmarked for marijuana-prevention programs targeted to youth, added Trustee Cody Folsom.
Also, trustees discussed extending Charles’ contract from six months to one year.
Otherwise there would be a manager transition during spring, a busy time when there is a board election, construction of a new community-built playground, and Land Use Code revision.