Glenwood Springs P&Z approves revisions to marijuana regulations

1,000-foot buffers and cap of 1 shop per 1,000 residents get the OK

Glenwood Springs Post Independent news graphic

The Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 27 approved revisions to marijuana regulations and heard an application for a pot shop in Glenwood Meadows. 

P&Z had been discussing over several meetings revisions to the municipal code pertaining to retail marijuana shops and had asked staff to prepare a recommendation based on those discussions.

The revisions focused on buffers and a population cap. 

The regulations currently dictate that a new shop must be 900 feet from other pot shops and 500 feet from schools. The revisions change the buffers to 1,000 feet from either and added to that list parks and mental health and drug treatment facilities.

There is currently no maximum number of pot shops allowed in the city, and the revision included a cap of one shop per 1,000 residents.

City staff recommended approval of the revisions.

Commissioner George Shaver asked if the city has a designation of what constitutes a park, and whether the trail system above Glenwood Meadows could be considered a park.

Senior planner Trent Hyatt said that if trails were considered as parks that could potentially include the Rio Grande Trail.

“It would be tough to designate the Rio Grande Trail as an official ‘park,’” but buffers around trails is worth discussing, he said.

Assistant city manager Jennifer Ooton said the city has a list of city parks — which includes Boy Scout Trail — and a definition of the term “park” that includes an “other” category that could be construed to refer to trails. She suggested attaching a list of parks to the regulations to make it clear what the buffers would surround and to use the park definition while exempting the “other” category to avoid confusion about whether trails require buffers.

Commissioner Carolyn Cipperly said that a goal of the comprehensive plan is to be a regional shopping hub. With that in mind, Gypsum and New Castle comprise roughly 10,000 people combined and have no pot shops, so the city should accommodate that doubling of the population when considering pot shop caps.

“I’m less in favor of a numerical cap. I do think that the 1,000-foot setbacks have gotten us really close to what I believe City Council was encouraging us to work on,” she said. She asked for some support in removing the cap per population from the regs but got none.

Commissioner Kathryn Grosscup moved to approve the draft regulations with the addition of the parks definition and exempting its “other” category. Commissioner Sumner Schachter seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

The next step is for public hearings before council.

“All code changes are done by ordinance, which requires two hearings before City Council,” assistant economic/community development director Gretchen Ricehill said in an email.

Kind Castle

P&Z heard a special use permit application from Chris Hawkins of Alpine Planning on behalf of Kind Castle for a pot shop on the southeast corner of Wulfsohn Road and Flat Tops View Drive. 

In August P&Z had paved the way for this review by overturning a staff decision that pot shops were not allowed in Glenwood Meadows, denying Hawkins’ original application.

The application calls for a 4,504-square-foot, two-story building, 3,270 square feet of which would be for the pot shop with 784 square feet for a future retail establishment.

Hawkins said that the project will provide 17 parking spaces, more than the 11 required by zoning.

He also pointed out that the shop would meet the new 1,000-foot buffers even though the current less-stringent regulations apply to this application.

No residents spoke during the public comment portion of the discussion.

The commission voted unanimously to continue the discussion to the next regular meeting on Nov. 9 to allow the public the opportunity to comment.

Alternates needed

With the appointment of P&Z Commissioner Ingrid Wussow to City Council, her seat on the commission is currently vacant. On the agenda at Thursday’s council meeting is considering appointing current alternate Ben West to fill the vacant commission seat. According to the city website, there is currently a vacant alternate seat on P&Z, and West’s appointment would leave two vacant alternate seats.

“We are actively recruiting to fill these vacancies. Alternate positions are considered critical to the function of the commission. Alternates often are asked to fill in when regular members cannot attend a meeting or need to recuse themselves from particular items due to conflicts,” Ricehill said in an email.

Applications are available on the city website.

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