Gas & Grass pot shop OK’d by Glenwood council
Despite concerns about its proximity to two schools, Glenwood Springs City Council could find no legal basis to deny the planned Native Roots Gas and Grass shop in West Glenwood.
Council voted 5-1 at its Thursday night meeting to approve a plan to convert the convenience store portion of the West Glenwood Shell Station into a retail marijuana store, making it the sixth recreational pot shop in town.
In doing so, council did ask that the new business comply with the city’s sign code and not use the green cross insignia that’s common with marijuana businesses in an effort to soften the visual impact as schoolchildren walk by and visitors enter town from Interstate 70.
But council could find no reason to deny the proposal without legal ramifications, since it meets the city’s marijuana business regulations that were updated just last year.
“We already had the decision as a city to get in or get out” of the legal marijuana business, Councilor Todd Leahy said. “Right now we’re in business, and this group has followed 100 percent of our rules.”
Councilor Matt Steckler cast the lone vote against the plan, saying he worries the west end of town is becoming a “dumping zone” for certain types of land uses that people don’t want to see elsewhere. Including the two combined retail/cultivation marijuana facilities on Devereux Road, West Glenwood will now be home to three marijuana businesses.
Council’s decision reversed the city Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation to deny the Native Roots proposal.
Native Roots operates 17 marijuana stores across Colorado, including two others that follow the “gas and grass” model combining a gas station with retail marijuana sales under the same roof.
Several public school representatives cautioned against putting a marijuana store in proximity to schools, in this case Glenwood Springs Middle School and Two Rivers Community School.
The location at 23 Mel Ray Road is outside the 500-foot separation restriction for marijuana businesses in relation to schools, but just barely in the case of the middle school, which is 539 feet away.
GSMS Principal Joel Hathaway echoed others who said that, even though the schools are not immediately adjacent to the operation, students walk by going to and from school and use the city bus stop that’s just west of the gas station on U.S. 6.
“I walked home with some of the kids the other day, and dozens of kids do walk by that spot every day,” Hathaway said. “On the way back home, we walked by a drive-through liquor store, another liquor store, a bar and the Greyhound bus stop.
“Unfortunately, this proposal really is in character with the neighborhood,” he admitted. “That’s a lot going on for a 12-year-old to have to walk past.”
Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein, who sits on the Valley Marijuana Council, said there’s a “normalization” regarding marijuana use with every new store that opens.
“I would ask you to consider the message you’re sending to these kids as a community through social norming,” Stein said. “The more they perceive it as normal, the more they are likely to use.”
Dominic Mauriella, representing Native Roots, offered that, per Colorado law, no one younger than 21 will be allowed in the business, which will be separate from the gas station pay window.