Cases made for two new pot operations
September 13, 2015
A sometimes-awkward, courtroom-style city license hearing process that is about to go away allowed two would-be new marijuana business operators to make their case Wednesday for opening shop in Glenwood Springs.
City liquor and marijuana license hearing officer Angela Roff now has until Oct. 9 to either issue or deny licenses for The Kind Castle at 818 Grand Ave., and the Osiris cultivation, infused products manufacturing and retail facility at 2150 Devereux Road.
Those are the last of five applications that were in process before new city regulations were adopted last month following a 90-day moratorium on new marijuana license requests.
Among the new rules for applications made from this point forward will be a more traditional special review hearing process before the city's Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council.
For now, though, the pending decisions are in Roff's hands. Her rulings can be appealed to City Council under the old rules, however.
Kind Castle owner Raymond Strickoff, represented by attorney Trevor McGarvey and business adviser John Dyet, offered evidence that, both anecdotally and based on demographics of the area, supply of marijuana products is not keeping up with demand.
One potential customer who spoke on the applicant's behalf said wait times are often long at existing retail pot dispensaries and supply is lacking.
The Kind Castle also intends to serve a growing Hispanic clientele by having bilingual sales clerks and offering educational information in Spanish.
That's something the four other retail stores providing recreational sales to adults age 21 and older in Glenwood Springs don't offer, McGarvey claimed.
Charles Campagna, who owns and manages the building at 818 Grand, said he and his partners initially turned away tenants wanting to open medical or recreational marijuana stores.
But after a revolving door of various retail and other commercial tenants, and even requests from tattoo shops and an adult bookstore, Campagna said they seek the long-term stability that a marijuana shop might provide.
"We now have a five-year lease with a two-year option," Campagna said. "And it would be a substantial income over and above what others have offered to us for this space."
But several Glenwood Springs residents and business owners reiterated that the downtown area is not appropriate for new marijuana businesses.
David Fulton, who co-manages the Best Kept Secret B&B on Colorado Avenue, said he never has guests ask where they can buy marijuana.
"I do not see a need for this in our neighborhood," said Fulton, who also opposed the former requests by the Green Dragon to open a second retail store and marijuana products bakery in the 900 block of Grand, as well as another proposed store in the 400 block of 10th Street.
Both of those applications were denied by Roff last June, and the decisions were upheld on appeal to City Council the following month.
"I do have a concern about flooding our historic district with marijuana shops," Fulton said.
Kelly McKendrick, who circulated an online petition earlier this year opposing any new marijuana shops in town that generated nearly 300 signatures, opposed both the Kind Castle and Osiris requests.
"We have a reputation as a family tourist destination, and we can damage that image with a proliferation of marijuana shops," he said.
McKendrick said he doesn't oppose the town's existing pot shops. That's why he did not object to the recent approval for Martin's Naturals on Sixth Street to convert from a medical-only dispensary to recreational sales, he said.
Osiris, meanwhile, has already won city land-use approvals to build its 16,500-square-foot cultivation greenhouse and sales facility on Devereux Road, and is now seeking licensing from the city to proceed with construction and go into business.
Co-owner Michael Gurtman of Aspen made the case that the Osiris operation will be unlike any other cultivation and sales facility in Glenwood Springs, the Roaring Fork Valley, or even the state.
A state-of-the-art, high-tech, new-built greenhouse facility will be superior to existing indoor growing operations that use converted warehouse or manufacturing space, he said.
"All of our products will be traceable to our own wholesale operation, and we will not be purchasing from other locations," Gurtman said.
At the same time, the product can be sold to some of the other dispensaries in the area, he said.
"We do have a lot of pride in our operation, and we want to make it the best facility we can," Gurtman said.