Glenwood P&Z opens door for review of Meadows pot shop proposal

An aerial shot of the intersection of Wulfsohn Road and Flat Tops View Drive, where the proposed pot shop would be constructed.

Glenwood Meadows is one step closer to having its own retail marijuana facility.

Glenwood’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to overturn Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director Jennifer Ooton’s decision to reject a special use permit application for a pot shop at Glenwood Meadows on the grounds that it is not an allowed use.

The motion to overturn was made by Carolyn Cipperly and seconded by George Shaver.

The decision does not approve the permit application or allow marijuana facilities at Meadows. It allows the special-use permit application to move forward with a conference as part of the normal process for marijuana businesses as set out in the municipal code.

The hour-and-half meeting focused largely on interpretation of the Glenwood Meadows development documents.

In the meeting introduction, the city’s Assistant Economic/Community Development Director Gretchen Ricehill reviewed Ooton’s reasoning that the city has interpreted the Meadows Annexation and Development Agreement as proscriptive, meaning if the use is not listed it is not allowed.

The approval of Glenwood Meadows predated legal marijuana, so it could not have been listed as an approved use.

Lawyer Ben Johnston, who represents Glenwood Meadows LLC, said that the Meadows Zoning and Development Plan has a list of prohibited uses in its appendix. Marijuana retail is not among the prohibited uses, either.

Johnston also listed two examples of uses that are not listed in the Zoning and Development Plan that the city has previously allowed: the community garden in 2010 and electric vehicle charging stations in 2013 and 2019.

“With respect to each of these examples, the city did not take the position that since the use was not listed in the ADA it was not allowed. … [The city] has always taken the position that if the use is not listed in the ADA the [municipal] code applies,” he said.

The parcel in question, Lot 11B, which is on the corner of Flat Tops View Drive and Wulfsohn Road, is under Meadows zoning C-2, in which retail is allowed, according to the Zoning and Development Plan.

In the introduction, Ricehill showed that marijuana is not listed under retail in the municipal code, it is its own separate commercial category. She also pointed out that, according to the ADA, all zoning and development is subject to the more stringent rules of either the Zoning and Development Plan or the municipal code. 

Johnston said that the municipal code is more stringent than the Meadows zoning because it breaks out marijuana as its own category, suggesting that in this case the special-use permit application process should be followed.

In Ooton’s rejection letter, she said that the applicant would need to amend the ADA, which would require a vote of all Meadows property owners. 

Mike Maple, with property owner Glenwood Meadows LLC, questioned this, saying, “There have been four amendments to the ADA … and those amendments were only signed by city of Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Meadows LLC.”

In regards to the community garden and charging stations, “The city did not take position that since the use is not listed in the ADA it must be amended to allow such use,” Johnston said.

Robert Macgregor, also with Glenwood Meadows LLC, said that land-use decisions should be in the hands of the city, while many of the Meadows property owners are from out of state.

“The power should lie with you, and you’ll give it away tonight if you back [Ooton’s] decision,” he said.

However, City Attorney Karl Hanlon told the commission, “It’s not the job of this body to make a decision based on whether or not the developer in front of you happens to live in Glenwood Springs.”

Commissioner Sumner Schachter asked if there had been other marijuana shop requests for Meadows. Ricehill said there had been, but the city doesn’t keep a record of denials and couldn’t say how many denials there had been.

Maple and Macgregor expressed surprise at this, and both said they had never been informed of any requests for marijuana establishments at Meadows.

New Castle resident Matthew Bennett was the only person to speak during the public comment phase. 

“What is so bad about having another marijuana shop? Why can’t you at least have the discussion?” he asked. “You have a liquor store that’s awesome there. What’s so bad about pot?”

Hanlon gave P&Z some general guidance.

“You’re making a choice on interpretation of the document. … I think the question is: Do we really want to just start filling in the gaps fully in Glenwood Meadows with the underlying zoning from the city of Glenwood Springs? … It charts the course forward that we as staff will continue to interpret the document based on what you decide here.”

During council comments following the vote, Cipperly said, “I’m quite impressed with the walkability of the Glenwood Meadows … and this is definitely something that we as a city are trying to encourage. … If we allow a shop over there it will probably get a lot of cars off of our streets and help further the goals of our [comprehensive] plan.”

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