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Dolores sees first applicant for marijuana store

Sprinkler system is for public safety, expense dissuades second applicant

The marijuana gold rush anticipated after Dolores voters approved the business has not sparked up as expected.

Just one applicant filed by the initial Feb. 5 deadline to start a retail marijuana business in town.

The town allows for two retail store locations and two retail cultivation centers, according to a new ordinance.

There will eventually be opportunity for one manufacturing facility for marijuana products in town.

Initial excitement for marijuana entrepreneurs was high, officials said, but when the smoke cleared, four expressed interest, and only one followed through with an application.

“The second (retail store) slot is open until filled, first-come, first-serve,” said town attorney Jon Kelly.

Applications for for the two cultivation center permits will also be accepted.

Expecting a flood of applications, the town was ready to implement a lottery system, which included a local preference for one of the available retail store slots. But the lottery was not necessary.

The one applicant will be vetted by the town board. Their identity, or proposed location for the store has not been revealed. The applicant is not a Dolores resident.

If granted preliminary approval by the town, the applicant must obtain proper state permits before opening a store.

Another potential applicant interested in a store dropped out because of a costly requirement that the facility have a fire suppression sprinkler system required under the marijuana ordinance.

The issue of requiring fire suppression for pot shops spurred a discussion, with some supporting it and others not.

Town building inspector David Doudy said the conditions of a marijuana business call for indoor fire sprinkler systems in order to protect firefighters and the public.

He said the extreme security measures of cash-based marijuana shops creates a hazard for firefighters if there were a fire. Metal walls and reinforced doors and windows can be trap in a fire situation.

A sprinkler system effectively minimizes the potential for a fire getting out of control, Doudy said, and is part of the cost of the marijuana business.

It is in the ordinance because of “inherent dangers” of buildings that house marijuana businesses, he said.

Some board members agreed it was a necessary safety standard, although unfortunate that the expense cut an applicant out.

Mayor Chad Wheelus and board member Jen Stark felt the requirement for sprinkler systems in a marijuana business goes too far and is over-regulation.

“It feels like a double standard, and is regulating business out of town that our voters overwhelmingly approved,” Wheelus said.

Sprinkler systems are not required for businesses such as liquor stores or shops with high-end security measures, he said.

Stark said the sprinkler regulation “makes it challenging for the business to be successful.”

Other town business

The town is considering an ordinance to provide compensation for future elected board members and mayor beginning in 2022. The proposal is to pay board members $100 per month, and the mayor $150 per month. Committee members would receive $50 per month.If approved, it would not apply to the current board because state statute prohibits sitting officials from approving compensation for themselves.

The board approved an amended lease and plat for the Galloping Goose Historical Society to allow for a track and rail car display at the museum.As part of the modified traffic code regulation, the board voted that camping on streets in RVs or vehicles is prohibited except where provided by provisions in the land use code. Camping is only allowed at RV parks and by town permit during special events in town parks. The Town Board voted 6-1 to pass the revised traffic code. Stark voted no. She referred to another mountain town that allowed camping on streets for up to three days. The issue can be revisited by the board during the ongoing land-use code revision.

The town is looking into wildfire mitigation on the north side of the valley. It is working on a plan to annex newly acquired town property on top of the northern cliffs purchased to prevent cliffside houses in the viewshed. The newly annexed area will be categorized as open space, with provisions for town projects such as a water tower.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

The town is looking into wildfire mitigation on the north side of the valley. It is working on a plan to annex newly acquired town property on top of the northern cliffs purchased to prevent cliffside houses in the viewshed. The newly annexed area will be categorized as open space, with provisions for town projects such as a water tower.

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