Glenwood Springs City Council has final say on marijuana permits, even when application meets required criteria outlined in local and state laws
Kind Castle, a retail marijuana dispensary, has opened a new location in Craig and is in the process of obtaining a permit in Cedaredge, but owner John Dyet knows there’s likely no chance he’ll ever get approval to open up a location in Glenwood Springs.
“It’s been almost impossible to get a marijuana store approved in Glenwood. I narrowly was able to get my marijuana store approved in the Glenwood Meadows plaza even though it was a perfect application,” Dyet recalled. His application was approved by a 4-3 vote.
His application for another location in the 2100 block of Grand Avenue was ultimately denied 5-1 by Glenwood Springs council members.
“(Glenwood Springs City Council) gave us a list of issues for the site at 2114 Grand Avenue when they first denied us, then a year later they denied our resubmitted application even though we fixed all of their issues,” Dyet said of the application that was denied June 3.
That application would have allowed Dyet to open a store in the now-empty commercial space located next to Trading Post Pawn.
“That was a two-year process just for that site alone,” Dyet said. “Some of the council members refuse to approve new retailers, even though the property is qualified and the applicant follows the code precisely.”
The main reason council members cited in voting no — Council Member Shelly Kaup was the lone “yes” vote — was the location and its proximity to a park and school.
City ordinance requires any retail marijuana business to be at least 1,000 feet from any public or private school, park, mental health facility or drug treatment facility.
Yet Dyet’s proposed location complied with those requirements.
Glenwood Springs city spokesperson Bryana Starbuck said city staff works with applicants on all application types, including marijauna licenses.
“Once an applicant has sufficiently prepared an application for review, staff will send applications with staff recommendations, sometimes with conditions, to the Planning and Zoning Commission and then to city council for review,” Starbuck said.
The P&Z Commission voted to recommend approval of Dyet’s application.
“As the decision-making body with the final authority to approve or deny an application, city council reviews the application, recommendations from P&Z and public input to judge compliance with the Comprehensive Plan and Municipal Code, and if the use has demonstrated compliance with the special review criteria,” Starbuck said.
“City council’s interpretation of an application’s compliance may differ from city staff.”
Council member Ingrid Wussow, who served on the planning and zoning board before she was appointed to city council, said her vote to deny Dyet’s application was based on the proposed location’s proximity to a residential area where many children live.
“One of the biggest things we’re trying to decide in land use applications is if it’s compatible with the use and location. In this case, adjacent to residential property, I didn’t feel comfortable with the marriage of the alignment of those two,” Wussow said, noting that she supports the marijuana industry and businesses in Glenwood Springs and their tax contributions to city and school budgets.
“I just had an issue with this specific application,” she said.
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