"I have people asking me constantly about when the first dispensary will open," Fort Lupton Mayor Zo Stieber said during a recent city council meeting.
Unfortunately for Stieber, those questions will continue for a few months as the town of about 8,000 waits for an answer.
Located in Weld County about forty minutes from Denver, Fort Lupton has never allowed dispensaries, with pot consumers currently driving to Thornton, Lafayette or Longmont to purchase retail marijuana. Fort Lupton voters approved marijuana dispensaries during the November 2020 election, but the city council has been slow on moving the pot ordinance forward, postponing the implementation earlier this year before picking the project back up.
During a town hall meeting April 27, however, councilmembers discussed a new time frame for retail marijuana, with a target on late July to open for business applications. According to City Clerk Mari Peña, detailed zoning ordinances regarding where dispensaries can operate within the city will be presented during a public meeting on May 13, with another public meeting about the overall ordinance and general concerns scheduled for May 18.
The dispensary application stage, currently set to start July 23, was supposed to begin in May, but that process has lagged as the council negotiates upgrades for a local wastewater facility.
"I know there have been a lot of questions about [marijuana] applications and submittals, but no applications will be accepted until after the effective date of the ordinances, and until after the council approves a process to move forward with," Peña said during the meeting. "We should have more information as we get closer to July."
Up to four dispensaries are allowed under Fort Lupton's proposed ordinance. Medical marijuana sales will be permitted, but only if they operate alongside a retail marijuana dispensary. According to the council's measure, there must be a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries and any school, child-care facility, juvenile or adult halfway house, jail, detention center or substance abuse facility (Fort Lupton doesn't have a jail or halfway house). Dispensaries are also prohibited from opening in the the town's downtown area.
Marijuana stores couldn't be located within or adjacent to any residential district, either, and must be at least 500 feet away from any public playgrounds or parks — and, no, your backyard doesn't count as a private park, Stieber added.
The local sales tax rate for future pot sales would be a little over 7 percent overall; Fort Lupton's local sales rate is 4 percent, with a proposed additional marijuana sales tax of 3.1 percent. The tax rate on retail pot could be increased or decrease without voter approval, though, as long as the rate doesn't exceed 10 percent.
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