Glenwood council reverses pot shop’s license OK
November 9, 2015
Glenwood Springs City Council was not so kind to the Kind Castle Thursday night, voting to overturn the city licensing officer's decision last month to grant licenses for what would have been a third retail marijuana shop in the city's downtown core.
Council voted 5-0 to deny the operation, agreeing with more than two dozen citizens, business owners, the local chamber and two public institutions that operate downtown facilities that the area should not be home to any more marijuana operations.
"Given the feelings of the community on this, I think we should overturn (the licensing decisions)," Councilman Matt Steckler said of the proposed Kind Castle location at 818 Grand Ave.
"The saturation of these businesses is to the point where it's starting to affect the perception of Glenwood Springs in the world, and in our own community," he said.
Meanwhile, a second licensing decision that was to be heard on appeal Thursday night was postponed for two weeks until council's regular Nov. 19 meeting.
Operators of the planned Osiris LLC marijuana cultivation, infused products manufacturing and retail sales facility at 2150 Devereux Road requested the continuance in order to allow time to prepare arguments and witness testimony for the hearing.
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Osiris's attorney, Spencer Schiffer, said it could take about an hour and a half to present their case. Given the late hour following the Kind Castle hearing, council agreed it made more sense to wait.
Council took little time to decide to overturn license hearing officer Angela Roff's decision to grant licensing approval for the Kind Castle operation.
The Kind Castle and Osiris applications were the last to go through the hearing officer review process for new marijuana business licenses. After those and several other applications were made last spring, council tightened the city's marijuana regulations including a requirement that all new requests go through a City Council hearing process.
Leading the appeal of Roff's licensing decision for the Kind Castle were the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, the Garfield County Public Library District and Colorado Mountain College.
"This took a lot of discussion for our board," Chamber CEO Marianne Virgili said, noting the organization, like all chambers of commerce, "represents free enterprise."
"Ultimately, it came down to the image of our community, and the fact that we have 2 million tourists a year that we market to," Virgili said.
She added that the chamber and the college, which share a building in the 800 block of Grand, along with the Glenwood Branch Library at Eighth and Cooper, have all made an investment in downtown Glenwood Springs.
"We want to preserve that," Virgili said.
Glenwood Library Manager Sue Schnitzer said the library already has trouble policing the outdoor plaza area for inappropriate activity, including smoking of any kind. Another nearby marijuana shop would only add to the problem, she said.
Schnitzer said the initial licensing decision for the Kind Castle was also inconsistent with decisions earlier this year by Roff to deny two other proposed downtown marijuana shops, the Green Dragon and Recreational Releaf Dispensary. Council ultimately upheld those decisions on appeal in July.
Representatives for the Kind Castle tried to make the case that, by having a downtown presence, they would be able to help with some of the security and policing issues in the neighborhood.
Business consultant John Dyet, who was working with owner/operator Ray Strickoff to open the new business, said they intended to hire a security guard who would be able to tell people not to smoke marijuana openly in public places.
"There is an overall security issue at the library … and I think we can help address that concern," Dyet said.
The Kind Castle could appeal council's decision further by taking the case to district court. Given the lack of success in other marijuana licensing appeals in the state, however, Strickoff's attorney Trevor McGarvey indicated that's not likely something they would pursue.