Council upholds license approvals for Osiris pot grow

The last of a series of marijuana business applications to go through the former city of Glenwood Springs licensing review process before new rules were enacted this summer got the green light to proceed from City Council Thursday night.

Council voted 6-1 to uphold city licensing officer Angela Roff’s decision last month to grant licenses for Osiris LLC to operate a cultivation, manufacturing and retail marijuana sales facility at 2150 Devereux Road.

In doing so, council rejected the appeal brought by Glenwood resident Kelly McKendrick who, along with a handful of other residents, sought to overturn the licensing approvals on grounds that Glenwood already has enough marijuana stores and cultivation to meet the local demand.

Unlike other marijuana businesses that were recently denied in the city’s downtown core, though — including council’s decision two weeks ago to overturn licensing approvals for the Kind Castle retail shop at 818 Grand Ave. — Councilman Todd Leahy said the industrially zoned Devereux Road site is exactly where the city envisioned cultivation operations when it wrote its original marijuana regulations two years ago.

“We heard from the community loud and clear about downtown, which is why we passed new rules and regulations,” Leahy said of amendments made in August that now require all new marijuana license requests to come before City Council, rather than going through a separate review by an appointed hearing officer.

New rules also require 900 feet of separation between marijuana establishments, rather than 325 feet under the old rules. That move was aimed at limiting the number of retail shops that could be located in the downtown core.

“This particular facility, with its manner of operation and location, is different from anything we’ve seen,” Leahy said. “In my opinion, they have met the requirements and deserve a license.”

Stephen Bershenyi, who has generally opposed the proliferation of new marijuana businesses in Glenwood, was the lone council member to vote against upholding the Osiris approvals.

Osiris’ upvalley co-owners, Michael Gurtman, Spencer Schiffer and Richard Rosin, plan to open what will be Glenwood’s second cultivation operation.

But the approach is decidedly different than the existing Green Dragon/Greenwerkz marijuana grow facility at 1420 Devereux, Schiffer said.

Instead of using a converted indoor warehouse to grow marijuana, a method he said is on its way out in the industry, Osiris will grow its product in a series of greenhouses.

The process is more energy efficient, doesn’t require the use of chemical pesticides and is generally more environmentally friendly, Gurtman said.

To control odors from the budding and flowering marijuana plants, which has been a problem with some growing facilities in Colorado and locally, the Osiris facility will use a state-of-the-art filtration and ventilation system, he said.

“We are doing the right thing by bringing in high-end equipment … to produce a quality organic product for locals,” Gurtman said after the hearing. “It’s a real farm-to-table experience, which is not something that currently exists here.”

In addition to recreational marijuana for smoking or other methods of consumption, the facility also will manufacture marijuana oil extracts that have medicinal qualities, he said.

Prior to earning its licensing approvals, Osiris won land-use approval from the city last spring to build the 16,500-square-foot greenhouse, manufacturing and retail sales facility.

McKendrick, in presenting his appeal, argued that Glenwood Springs does not need any more marijuana businesses beyond the four retail stores that sell marijuana products to adults 21 and older. He also said the proliferation of such businesses, regardless of the location, tarnishes Glenwood’s family tourist image.

“I believe you have heard loud and clear from the community that we have enough marijuana representation in our city, and we don’t need anymore,” McKendrick said.

He also worried about what he called an unproven method of growing, and said there would be little oversight to ensure that the product is truly organic and that the production methods are safe.

“Let’s not be a beta test before real regulation comes, if it comes,” he said.

Several Osiris supporters spoke in favor of upholding the license approvals, while Jeremy Alexander, who owns the neighboring Riverside Imports auto repair business, said he worries about losing customers by having a marijuana business next door.

“I have heard reservations from some of my customers,” Alexander said. “Every business has a right to be in town, but it is a concern … perception is reality.”

Gurtman said he anticipates construction will start next month on the new facility, and it should be open within about six to eight months.

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