Carbondale moves ahead with new pot laws
CARBONDALE — The town’s Board of Trustees will most likely adopt a new set of laws tonight, formally establishing the community’s rules for permitting recreational marijuana growth, sales and use as allowed under the Colorado Constitution.
A public hearing is scheduled for approximately 7:30 p.m., according to the agenda, concerning an ordinance to revise the town’s land use code to allow for retail pot shops to operate.
Later in the meeting, the trustees are expected to adopt an emergency ordinance establishing fees of $5,000 for each type of commercial marijuana business license — cultivation, product manufacturing, product testing and retail sales.
“Although the cultivation and infused products may be included under the same license,” said Town Manager Jay Harrington on Monday.
What probably will not happen, Harrington said, is further discussion of a request to lower those fees now that the town electorate has approved a 5 percent tax on wholesale as well as retail sales of pot.
The voters authorized a 5 percent excise tax on all marijuana sold by growers to retail stores, and a 5 percent sales tax applied to all sales by the retail shopkeepers to the buying public.
At a recent trustees meeting, longtime local businessman H.P. Hansen, who co-owns a medical marijuana shop in town and has expressed interest in expanding to conduct retail sales as well, asked the trustees to consider lowering the fees in response to voter approval of the taxes.
“Basically he was saying that $10,000 in the door is steep,” Harrington said of Hansen’s request, referring to licensing fees that the town will be applying to efforts to convert from a medical marijuana outlet to one that sells both medical and retail pot.
Harrington said the trustees have agreed to discuss Hansen’s request at a work session on Dec. 17, and that the discussions tonight will be limited strictly to revisions to the town’s existing land use code and approval of the fees as written and presented by the town’s staff.
Several trustees have said on different occasions that they would take another look at the fees if the voters approved the taxes, and Harrington noted that the primary goal of the board is to cover the administrative costs of regulating the pot industry and enforcing the laws.
He said the town has estimated roughly $30,000 in revenues from the sales and excise taxes, but stressed that it is a “pretty conservative estimate” and that actual proceeds may be well above or below that amount.
In addition to the uncertainty about the revenues from marijuana businesses, he said, the town has no idea what the costs will be to administer and enforce the new laws.
Given those unknowns, Harrington said, he could not predict when or if the trustees might move to modify the fees.
Also at tonight’s meeting:
• A public hearing about the proposed 2014 municipal budget, which calls for overall spending of $16.2 million in all funds, $5.5 million of which is the general fund that covers the day to day operations of the town, and including a 3 percent cost-of-living raise for town employees.
• A public hearing about proposed changes to the planned unit development governing the Carbondale Square shopping center (home of City Market) in light of impacts from the expansion of Highway 133 as it passes the shopping center.
• A request from the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 to extend the development rights timetable for the Community Partnership affordable housing project on land adjacent to the Third Street Center.
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 511 Colorado Ave.
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