Council gives final OK to new pot business rules | SummitDaily.com

Council gives final OK to new pot business rules

John Stroud
jstroud@postindependent.com

The city of Glenwood Springs has completed new rules for marijuana businesses, including the addition of a special-use review and hearing process, and an expanded 900-foot setback between retail pot shops and related businesses.

City Council on Thursday approved the amended ordinance without any further discussion or public comment. The issue was aired during an Aug. 6 public hearing when council agreed to the new rules on first reading.

The amended ordinance officially hits the books in 10 days, just as a three-month moratorium on new retail and medical marijuana licenses and land-use applications is set to expire on Sept. 1.

The revisions are in reaction to public concerns about the potential proliferation of marijuana shops in the downtown core under the former rules, as several new license applications have been making their way through the process.

Since the moratorium was put in place in early June, two requests for new retail shops in the downtown area, including one next to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue that would have included a marijuana edibles bakery, were denied by the city's license hearing officer, Angela Roff.

Roff ruled in both cases that the needs of the city's adult inhabitants were already being met by the three existing recreational retail marijuana shops and five medical dispensaries in town. Those decisions were upheld on appeal to City Council during a lengthy July 2 hearing.

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A third retail license application that came in before the moratorium went into effect was approved by Roff two weeks ago. Rather than establishing a new business, that decision converted the existing Martin's Medicinals at 216 Sixth St. from medical to recreational sales.

Under the new rules, the more discretionary special review process would involve public hearings before both the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council. It would replace the current administrative process using the hearing officer to decide on new retail and medical marijuana establishments.

Once issued under the new review process, annual license renewals would still be handled by the hearing officer.

The new 900-foot distance separation between establishments effectively limits the number of shops in the downtown area along Grand Avenue from Sixth to 11th streets to those already in place.

It's a change from the 325-foot setback that has been on the books since the city adopted its recreational marijuana regulations in late 2013.

The greater distance requirement does leave the door open for new establishments in areas outside of the downtown core, including West Glenwood and the area south of Sayre Park. A 500-foot setback from K-12 schools remains on the books.

With the previous rules, only marijuana cultivation facilities, which are limited to the city's single industrial zone district along Devereux Road, had to go through a land-use hearing process.

The new special review for any new marijuana business location is to include the licensing application as well.

At the Aug. 6 hearing, council rejected one option that would have banned new marijuana businesses altogether within the Downtown Development Authority boundaries.

That would have rendered three existing businesses located between Sixth and 11th streets as nonconforming, meaning those businesses would not have been able to expand or change hands.

Meanwhile, at least two retail marijuana license applications that were already in process before the moratorium went into effect are still pending hearings before Roff in September or October.

Those include the Osiris retail store on Devereux Road, which won land-use approval last month for the marijuana cultivation portion of the business, and the proposed "Kindology" retail shop at 818 Grand Ave.