Kind Castle takes pot shop appeal to court
One of the three proposed retail marijuana shops that were denied licenses to open stores in downtown Glenwood Springs earlier this year is appealing the decision in district court.
The Cannabist Castle Supermarket & Dispensary Lounge, which was prepared to go into business at 818 Grand Ave. as the Kind Castle, filed the appeal in Garfield County District Court on Dec. 11.
A hearing has not yet been set in the case, which has been assigned to District Judge James Boyd.
Glenwood Springs City Council voted 5-0 on Nov. 5 to overturn a previous ruling by the city’s liquor and marijuana license hearing officer, Angela Roff, to approve the new retail license for the Kind Castle.
The council decision came after several entities with public facilities located in the downtown core, including the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, the Garfield County Public Library District and Colorado Mountain College, appealed the hearing officer’s Oct. 10 ruling. That ruling followed a lengthy license review hearing before Roff on Sept. 9.
Several private citizens joined in the appeal, which centered on the argument that the city’s main downtown core is not an appropriate location for a large concentration of marijuana businesses.
“The saturation of these businesses is to the point where it’s starting to affect the perception of Glenwood Springs in the world … and in our own community,” Glenwood Councilman Matt Steckler said in support of overturning the licensing decision.
Kind Castle representatives Ray Strickoff and John Dyet, through Denver-area attorney Trevor McGarvey, are appealing that decision, saying council “exceeded its jurisdiction and abused its discretion” in overturning Roff’s approval.
McGarvey argues in the appeal that council members “did not provide a sufficient legal basis or rationale for their ruling, in spite of the fact that the city attorney continually coached them to do so.”
He also questions whether some of those who testified before City Council were qualified “parties of interest,” as spelled out in the city’s marijuana code that was in place at the time the Kind Castle applied to do business in Glenwood Springs.
“The City Council also considered various testimony regarding the potential nuisances that plaintiff’s store could bring to the area,” according to the latest appeal, which notes that such testimony is usually inadmissible in liquor license hearings.
Further, that particular testimony “is from someone who is generally opposed to marijuana legalization and who would oppose the licensing of any marijuana business,” according to the court claim.
The Kind Castle was one of the last to go through the hearing officer review process for new marijuana business licenses. After several new license applications were filed with the city last spring, City Council placed a moratorium on new applications in June and began a review of the city’s marijuana regulations.
The rules were ultimately tightened, requiring all new license requests go through a Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council hearing process rather than being heard by the licensing officer. The city also increased the required setback between marijuana businesses from 325 feet to 900 feet in an effort to limit the number of shops in the downtown core.
Library and chamber officials, in their appeal to City Council, noted that Roff had previously denied licenses for two other downtown marijuana shops, the Green Dragon and Recreational Releaf Dispensary. The Kind Castle ruling was inconsistent with those decisions, they said.
City Council ultimately upheld those earlier decisions after back-to-back appeal hearings in July.
McGarvey indicated following the Nov. 5 decision by council that a court appeal could be iffy, noting that other marijuana licensing appeals in Colorado have not been successful. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday on the decision to file the appeal.
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