Two pot license appeals to be heard Nov. 5
October 30, 2015
Glenwood Springs City Council will determine the fate of two marijuana licenses recently approved through the city's now-former hearing officer review process.
Council has set hearings for its regular Nov. 5 meeting after multiple appeals were filed last week contesting licensing approvals for the Kind Castle retail marijuana shop at 818 Grand Ave., and the Osiris LLC cultivation and sales operation at 2150 Devereux Road.
Both licenses were granted Oct. 9 by license hearing officer Angela Roff. They were the last of five applications that were allowed to proceed this year under the hearing officer process before the city changed the rules in August for considering new marijuana business licenses.
New regulations require all new license requests to eventually come before City Council, after an advisory review by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission.
The old process did, however, allow the hearing officer's licensing decisions to be appealed to the city's elected body.
Following an initial appeal to the Kind Castle filed Oct. 16 by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and Garfield County Library District boards, additional appeals were filed against both license approvals.
Among those appealing the Osiris license, which was not part of the chamber/library appeal, are Glenwood Springs residents Kelly and Juli McKendrick, who started an online petition earlier this year against any new marijuana businesses in town.
In particular, the McKendricks take issue with the marijuana cultivation facility associated with the Osiris plan, especially since the proponents stated they intend to use new equipment and technology in their greenhouse growing process.
"Given the documented problems that grow and manufacturing facilities have had in the Roaring Fork Valley in the last couple of years, I think that it is irresponsible for our city to become the beta test for new practices and operations," the McKendricks wrote in their appeal.
"As a city, we would not let a mining company or pesticide company enter our city limits with … new ways of production that had not been throughly (sic) tested, vetted and proven at a large-scale level," they wrote.
Osiris, led by co-owner Michael Gurtman of Aspen, went through a land-use review before City Council in July. It was approved to build a 16,500-square-foot greenhouse and sales facility at the Devereux site before seeking its licensing approvals.
Gurtman indicated during both review hearings that the greenhouse operation is expected to be superior to existing warehouse-style growing facilities. The only other cultivation operation in Glenwood Springs is the Green Dragon/Greenwerkz warehouse facility at 1420 Devereux Road.
"We already have a grow operation in town and we don't need any more for a city of our size," Kelly McKendrick told the Post Independent in follow-up to his written appeal.
"Basalt is a good example of a grow operation gone wrong and I don't want Glenwood to have that risk as well," he said in reference to the High Valley Farms cultivation facility east of Basalt that has been met with persistent odor complaints from nearby residents.
Downtown store further appealed
The McKendricks and a handful of other Glenwood residents and business owners also joined in the appeal of proposed downtown location for the Kind Castle retail marijuana store, which would join two other retail marijuana shops in the city's downtown core.
"I maintain the position that a marijuana retail store within the downtown core area will be a negative for our city's image and tourism industry," McKendrick wrote in that appeal.
"Furthermore, I believe that the marijuana retail stores that are currently operating and in place in our city are sufficient and in good locations to serve this clientele while preserving the city's image," he wrote.
One of those store owners, Dan Sullivan, who operates the Green Joint retail store and Green Medicine Wellness medical marijuana dispensary at 11th and Grand, agreed in a separate appeal of the Kind Castle license decision.
Sullivan's appeal is based in part on the fact that the approved Kind Castle location on Grand Avenue is within 900 feet of his business.
Also among the city's revised marijuana business regulations is a new 900-foot separation between marijuana businesses, rather than the 325-foot setback under the old rules.
"While the 900-foot ordinance does not strictly apply to this application, the interests served by the adoption of that ordinance certainly do," Sullivan's attorney states in the formal appeal.
If allowed to go forward, the Kind Castle store would come in as a non-conforming use due to the new setback requirement. It would be allowed to operate, but the business could not change hands or undergo any significant expansion in that location as a result.
The Sullivan appeal also takes issue with some of the reasoning cited in Roff's license approval, including that more people supported than opposed the application at the Sept. 9 review hearing.
"As we clearly witnessed early this summer, the vast majority of local residents and local businesses prefer to not have an overwhelming presence of marijuana shops in the downtown core," the appeal states in reference to two other license applications that were denied by Roff on those grounds.
City Council, at a similar appeal hearing in July, upheld Roff's denial of the proposed Green Dragon retail shop and marijuana edibles kitchen at 919 Grand Ave., as well as the Recreational Releaf Dispensary at 404 10th St.