New downtown, Devereux pot shops OK’d | AspenTimes.com

New downtown, Devereux pot shops OK’d

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

In a surprise decision given recent denials of two downtown Glenwood Springs marijuana shops due to neighborhood opposition, the city's hearing officer has approved a new recreational pot store in the 800 block of Grand Avenue.

In addition to giving the OK to a retail marijuana license for the Kind Castle at 818 Grand Ave., hearing officer Angela Roff also granted licenses for Osiris LLC to operate a marijuana cultivation, infused products manufacturing and retail sales facility at 2150 Devereux Road.

The city's former marijuana regulations, under which the two applications were considered before City Council changed the rules in August, any "party of interest" can appeal the decisions to City Council by Monday.

Roff said in a pair of written decisions filed with the City Clerk's Office late Friday that a comparative lack of opposition to the Kind Castle and Osiris applications weighed heavily into her decisions.

"The final tally is approximately 60 people (between petitions, letters and testimony) … in support, and approximately 30 people are opposed," Roff said in summing up the Sept. 9 licensing hearing for the Kind Castle.

"It appears from the evidence provided that more inhabitants approve of the application than oppose," she wrote in her finding that all of the licensing requirements had been met.

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Earlier this year, Glenwood business owners and residents expressed intense opposition to two other proposed downtown pot shop locations, one for the Green Dragon/Grand Avenue Edibles at 919 Grand Ave. next to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, and another for the Recreational Releaf Dispensary at 404 10th St.

Both of those license applications were denied in June by Roff, who based her decisions at that time on testimony that the needs of the surrounding neighborhood were already being met by existing marijuana retail stores.

The City Council upheld Roff's decisions in early July following appeals by the owners of the two ventures.

Prior to the Sept. 9 hearings for Kind Castle and Osiris, Roff also approved another license request from the existing Martin's Naturals on Sixth Street to convert from strictly a medical marijuana dispensary to recreational sales.

Roff said in her decisions that the numbers and testimony mostly supported the Kind Castle and Osiris applications.

A consultant working with Kind Castle, John Dyet, said the business also plans to differentiate itself by marketing more to a Hispanic clientele, including have Spanish-speaking sales clerks.

Roff did acknowledge that a third retail sales outlet in Glenwood's downtown core offering legal marijuana products to those age 21 and older could be viewed negatively by residents and visitors alike.

"Having yet another retail store on Grand Avenue may change the look and feel of this city, … (and) approval of this application may turn tourists away," she wrote.

Likewise, Roff found the Osiris application to be in order and approved separate licenses for the new Devereux Road location, as well.

Osiris had already won land-use approvals from the city in July to build a 16,500-square-foot marijuana-cultivation greenhouse, warehouse and sales facility. It would be the second cultivation operation on Devereux Road.

The Green Dragon, which was recently purchased by Denver-based Greenwerkz, already has a marijuana growing operation at 1420 Devereux.

"The fact that just one person testified in opposition makes it clear that there was very little opposition," Roff wrote in her decision regarding the Osiris proposal.

An online petition presented during the hearings by Kelly McKendrick of Glenwood Springs in opposition to any new marijuana licenses in the city generated nearly 300 electronic signatures.

However, Roff said she had difficulty giving the petition much weight, offering that "it is very difficult to determine if the person is 21 years old, is an interested party or is even the person that they say they are on the petition."

"Thus, the petition was disregarded as having very little credibility," she concluded.

McKendrick said Monday after learning of Roff's decisions that he was "surprised and disappointed."

"It's a tough pill to swallow," he said. "I was happy with the previous results, but at the same time I have to be cordial and respect other people's opinions on these two."

At the same time, "We weren't quite as prepared for this (hearing) as we were last time," McKendrick said. "If all we needed was two more sheets of petitions, I think we could have done that and then she might have denied these, too."

The Osiris and Kind Castle license applications were the last of five proposals that were already in process when the Glenwood Springs City Council imposed a 90-day moratorium on new license requests in late May.

Since then, the council revised the city's marijuana regulations, doing away with the hearing-officer process for new applications and requiring them instead to come before the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and ultimately the City Council for a final decision.

The city also now requires 900 feet of separation between marijuana businesses, rather than 325 feet under the former rules.

If it goes forward, Kind Castle would come in as a pre-existing, non-conforming use under the old rules since its location is within 900 feet of the Green Joint marijuana store at 11th and Grand.

That means any future modifications to the store or license transfer to a new owner would not be allowed in that location.