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Three marijuana distributors are a step closer to opening up shop in parts of Thornton.City Councilors, acting as Thornton’s Marijuana Licensing Authority, approved community engagement plans for three marijuana retail stores at a March 23 hearing.Those three stores only need city building permits now to open, according to Assistant City Manager Robb Kolstad.“The city attorney’s office needs to write their findings, and then the applicants have to go through the review that any business must go through to get a certificate of occupancy,” Kolstad said. “The process is not done until they get all city approvals, so they have a kind of conditional marijuana retail license until that happens.”Medicine Man, at 130th W. 84th Ave., Rocky Road Remedies, at 3901 E. 112th Ave., and Sweet Leaf, at 2551 E. 120th Ave., all moved forward in the city process.Councilors said that Green Dragon Colorado, hoping to open a cannabis shop at 5823 E. 128th Ave., didn’t do enough to involve neighbors. Councilors have scheduled a second hearing between Green Dragon and the licensing authority for April 25. Councilor Val Vigil said he wanted company representatives to actually meet with neighbors.“For us, engagement means you communicated with them,” Vigil said during the meeting. “For your part, I guess you think it means you mailed them a postcard to come here tonight. I don’t think we consider that engagement at all. I think we want you to have met with them, called a public meeting or knocked on their doors to meet with people.”Steps to licensingCouncilors adopted a process for licensing marijuana dispensaries last summer.Kolstad said councilors voted to approve retail sales of marijuana and created four different licensing quadrants of the city, with 120th Avenue as the north-south boundary and Colorado and York Street as the east-west boundary.According to city ordinances, only one licensed marijuana distributor will be allowed in each quadrant.“There is a dual licensing process, the local entities as well as the state,” Kolstad said. “There was a step to determine the top four between application and this hearing. The city had to evaluate all of the applicants and really approve one per quadrant.”The city began taking applications for the local licenses in September. The state began reviewing the four license applications in December and has approved all of them, Kolstad said.Public engagementThe final step to getting a city license was the city’s approval of a community engagement plan.“It’s designed to demonstrate how the business is going to reach out to and engage with the community,” Kolstad said. “It’s a way to address any community concerns, both initially and ongoing. It’s their outline of the process to ensure that if issues do come up, there is a set process to address those issues.”It includes meeting with neighboring residents and businesses to talk about the dispensary’s impact, but also encourages them to get involved in the community.“They all have an outline process to deal with complaints,” Kolstad said. “All of them had some initial outreach to the neighborhoods, saying here is who we are and this is what we plan to do. And then some had identified some charitable or philanthropic work they are interested in doing in the community as a way to demonstrate they are going to be a good neighbor.”Kolstad said the first three dispensaries could open this summer.
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