Council may hear more pot concerns
Concerns about the growing number of proposed new marijuana shops in Glenwood Springs could lead some citizens to ask City Council to revisit rules about the number of pot businesses that are allowed and where they may be located, among other things.
Until then, any applications that are already in the pipeline are subject to regulations that went on the city’s books at the beginning of 2014 when the retail sale of marijuana for recreational use by those age 21 and older became legal in Colorado, and before that with regards to medical marijuana.
Several residents and business owners who spoke Wednesday at a hearing before city Liquor and Marijuana Licensing Officer Angela Roff for two new downtown recreational retail marijuana stores, one with an adjoining edibles manufacturing kitchen, addressed the many general questions still lingering around marijuana legalization.
“It makes me sad that dollar signs are changing people’s attitudes about this drug, and that young people don’t think it’s as big a deal anymore because it’s everywhere,” said Julie McKendrick, who started an online petition last week against the latest round of pot shop applications.
By Wednesday night, the petition site had generated 250 signatures and more than 80 comments from people, both locally and from outside the area, mostly opposed to any new marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs.
“It’s about balance,” McKendrick said.
She, like others who spoke at the hearing to consider a license for the Green Dragon retail store and Grand Edibles kitchen at 919 Grand Ave. next to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue theater, said the community is adequately served by the three existing retail stores and five medical marijuana dispensaries.
The city does not currently regulate the number of marijuana businesses that can operate, but regulations do address the “good of the community” and “community need.”
But Ron Radtke, the owner of the existing Green Dragon retail and medical dispensary and cultivation facility on Devereux Road, as well as locations in Aspen and other parts of the state, said his application for the new downtown store meets the city’s code, including setbacks from schools and other marijuana businesses.
“It’s exactly where the city legislated this type of use,” he said.
If citizens want to change the rules, such as how many stores are allowed or rules about odors that can emanate from marijuana businesses, they should approach City Council, both Radtke and his Aspen attorney, Lauren Maytin, argued.
“Many of these people are advocating for you to deny this application as a solution to the problem they see,” Maytin said. “The problem is not Mr. Radtke, the problem they see is marijuana. Unfortunately, the line gets blurred here.”
After more than three hours of testimony, Roff said she would take Radtke’s application under advisement and rule within 30 days.
Most of the crowd didn’t stick around for a second application also before Roff on Wednesday. That one involved the proposed new Recreational Releaf Dispensary Bar at 404 10th St., site of Radtke’s former medical marijuana dispensary. That proposal also will be ruled on by mid-June.
Glenwood Springs resident Adrian Saenz, pastor at the Alpha Omega Church at the corner of 10th Street and Blake Avenue, indicated he has particular concerns about the Releaf store opening next door. But he also spoke generally to his concerns about marijuana during the Green Dragon license hearing.
“Having these places does send a message to kids … that doing drugs is OK,” Saenz said. “It is killing our youth.”
Many of the concerns related to the new Green Dragon location revolved around its potential impact on the Vaudeville theater next door, which shares a wall with the former restaurant building where the new marijuana store and edibles kitchen is proposed.
Vaudeville Revue founder and business owner John Goss said he doesn’t question the decision by Colorado and Glenwood Springs voters to legalize marijuana.
“My biggest concern is for the smell that could come from this location into my building,” Goss said. “I am very concerned for my customers and for my performers with that.”
Radtke and Green Dragon Manager Jeff Kennedy pledged that any odors will be contained in their building, and that the cannabis oil extraction done in the kitchen portion of the business, using a cold-process, closed-loop CO2 system, will not produce odors.
Goss also generally questioned the image that’s being presented to Glenwood Springs visitors by allowing marijuana stores to locate in the main part of downtown.
“Is there a need for this business here, or is it just a negative appeal to tourists and families that come to Glenwood Springs?” Goss asked.
David Fulton, who owns the Best Kept Secret Bed & Breakfast on Colorado Avenue, shared the same concern.
“As a resident and business owner in this town, I’m embarrassed that we’re becoming recognized for these types of businesses,” Fulton said. “It’s changing the nature of the community we chose to live in and do our business in.”
Dan Sullivan, owner of the Green Joint retail marijuana store and Green Medicine Wellness at 1030 Grand Ave., said the city should revisit the separation requirement between marijuana businesses. That distance is now 325 feet, which he said allows businesses to “encroach” on each other and doesn’t provide enough separation.
Sullivan also inquired about the pending $8 million sale of Green Dragon’s locations in Glenwood Springs and Aspen to Greenwerkz, a Denver-based company that also operates one of Glenwood Springs’ retail and medical outlets.
“That would mean one company would have three locations in town,” Sullivan said. “That seems a bit much.”
Radtke said the sale is pending many layers of approval by local and state authorities, and is anything but a done deal.
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