The Glenwood Springs City Council voted down a special-use permit for a marijuana dispensary Thursday after several members of the public questioned the city’s need for another “pot shop.”
During their regular session, councilors reviewed Kind Castle’s site proposal for a 738-square-foot retail marijuana establishment to be located in a commercial strip building at 2114 Grand Ave.
Citing mostly parking concerns, councilors shot down the permit request — agreeing with the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission’s unanimous vote to recommend permit denial — despite city staff’s recommendation to approve.
The proposed location has access to 10 parking spaces with the potential for adding six more, city documents state.
Mayor Jonathan Godes said he’d never seen city staff and the commission at odds on a special-use permit recommendation, and asked Community Development Senior Planner Trent Hyatt for insight into the situation.
“We just try our best to evaluate these specific to the criteria,” Hyatt said, explaining the permit application met all the city’s requirements. “There was quite a bit of opposition that may have played into (commission’s decision) as well.”
City Code requires a marijuana retail location to be more than 500 feet from a school zone and 900 feet from another marijuana retailer, but it does not limit the number of marijuana retailers within city limits.
Kind Castle representative John Dyet said the proposed site was 650 feet from the nearest school, Columbine Christian School, and 3,000 feet from the nearest marijuana retailer, Green Dragon.
Dyet added this was his second attempt to apply for a special-use permit. When he first suggested locating the marijuana store downtown, the application was rejected, and he was told the city didn’t want retail marijuana establishments in the downtown district.
“Here I am going to the outskirts, and you’re saying go back downtown,” Dyet said. “I’m following the current code as it is written.”
Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup asked Dyet to explain what odor mitigation methods he would put in place to ensure the site was compliant with the city’s no-odor outdoors requirement for marijuana retailers.
Before opening shop, Kind Castle would install two independent, activated-carbon filtration units each capable of cleansing 2,000 square-feet, or about four-times the proposed space, Dyet said.
Additionally, he said he would install a forced air unit to pull in outside air and force it through the filtration units as well as reinforce the location’s ceiling structure.
Councilor Paula Stepp questioned the Kind Castle’s parking layout, given an independent traffic study showed traffic to the area could increase.
City staff, however, reported traffic increases would not be significant.
Dyet said Kind Castle would be moving into two of the building’s storefronts, granting the business more parking options. If approved, the marijuana retailer also planned to work a trade with a residential tenant in the building for an off-site residence, allowing Kind Castle increased parking in the rear. Furthermore, Dyet said he planned to have all employees park off-site and commute or walk to work from nearby parking facilities.
Because a residence is connected to the proposed shop location — though no through-access is available — several councilors questioned Kind Castle’s security.
Dyet said he planned to install 20 video cameras throughout the store and install two separate alarm systems.
During the public comment portion, Monica Wolny, who has frequently criticized the City Council in public meetings and Godes via email for not supporting local business, asked the council to justify the need for another “pot shop.” She added that as a mother and resident, she saw no purpose for another marijuana retailer to open in Glenwood Springs.
Haley Carmer said she represented the Cedar Lodge Motel, located next to Kind Castle’s proposed location, and after reviewing the application documents, the motel’s owners did not believe the odor mitigation measurements would be enough, overflow parking could trickle into the motel’s lot and the fact the shop would share a wall with a residence was not “appropriate.”
Tim O’Keefe, a local pastor, said he didn’t feel the building’s parking was adequate for the use, nor did the city need another marijuana retailer.
Godes and Councilor Rick Voorhees said they didn’t agree with denying the application, because it would stifle the free market and city staff recommended approval.
The special-use permit was denied 5-2 with Godes and Voorhees voting against.