Steamboat City Council has final say Tuesday on pot shop’s proposed move | PostIndependent.com

Steamboat City Council has final say Tuesday on pot shop’s proposed move

Scott Franz Steamboat Today

RMR is trying to move into this office building at 410 South Lincoln Avenue.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs City Council is poised to make one of its biggest decisions about the retail marijuana industry to date when it decides Tuesday whether a dispensary can set up shop between downtown and the mountain.

Some community members see next week’s decision as a fight for Steamboat’s character and family-friendliness, while others see it as an opportunity for the city’s elected officials to treat the dispensaries in the same manner as nearby liquor stores.

The council’s decision is poised to have implications that go beyond 410 South Lincoln Avenue.

If Rocky Mountain Remedies' application is approved, it is likely a second property near McDonald’s will also get approval to someday house a dispensary, a decision that could allow a majority of the dispensaries to move closer to the center of town.

Last week, the city’s planning commission narrowly approved the move in a 4-3 vote despite concerns that have been raised about the location’s proximity to a karate academy and the traffic flow in the area.

Commissioners who approved the application agreed with city planning staff that the new location was acceptable and it was far enough of a walk to Emerald Park to meet the intent of city codes that prevent dispensaries from operating too close to parks.

They also felt the proximity of a vacant piece of land zoned for residential use wasn’t an issue in part because of a lack of a legal access to the land.

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Before getting the application approved, RMR co-owner Ryan Fisher urged the commission to focus on city codes and not “subjective opinions” about the marijuana industry.

“Given the fact that this is a location that previously housed a marijuana dispensary (in 2010) and the world did not burn down, and given the fact that objectively it very nearly meets the very stringent qualifications set out by our local zoning code, I would hope that when the Commission is considering our use of that parcel, that the objective impacts of our use are what are being considered and not the subjective opinions that may have been provided by letter or by voice tonight,” he said.

Meanwhile, some public comment continues to trickle in.

“I feel that Steamboat is known for it’s family atmosphere and because (marijuana) has not been legal for that long it still has a stigma attached to it,” real estate agent Meg Firestrone wrote to the council. “I’m sure as time goes on this will change but I think it is too soon.”

The council also received a letter from a competing marijuana dispensary’s attorney about RMR’s proposed move.

While the letter from Golden Leaf doesn’t call on the city to reject RMR’s application, it notes Golden Leaf used to operate at the same location RMR is trying to move to.

Golden Leaf claims their effort to expand the business at their previous location was blocked back in 2010 because of the proximity to a park and residential areas.

Golden Leaf’s owners also claim they were told by the city they were "grandfathered" into that location and they would never be able to move back when they moved away due to zoning and city ordinances.

The business ended up moving to the west end of town.

“Golden Leaf agrees with the City, State, and Federal Government’s goals of encouraging deliberate zoning and restrictions that assist with keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, away from neighborhoods, with effort being made to avoid public consumption,” the businesses’ attorney wrote this month to the council.

The city council will weigh in on RMR’s application Tuesday.