City staff OK with pot shop being located 900 feet from park | SteamboatToday.com

City staff OK with pot shop being located 900 feet from park

Natural Choice owners Roland and Mia French began sales of marijuana for recreational use in 2014.

— The Steamboat Springs planning department is recommending that a pot shop be allowed to move into a more visible retail space on the west side of town, despite the new location being within 1,000 feet of a park.

Natural Choice wants to move from its current location on Downhill Plaza to a new space at Curve Plaza next to Lil’ House Country Biscuits & Coffee and Arctic Liquors.

Planning staff believe the location, which is 899 feet from Bear River Park, is a “non-issue,” and a variance should be approved.

The city’s park distance rule is in place to protect underage children from being exposed to marijuana.

Planners note there is no direct line of site between the park and the potential pot shop location, and the walking and driving distances to the park are more than 3,000 feet.

As of Thursday evening, the planning department had received only one public comment on the proposal from a man who felt there wasn’t enough parking available to accommodate the new pot shop at Curve Plaza.

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In an application, the owners of Natural Choice outline how they would strive to be good neighbors in the new complex.

To mitigate any odors, the store owners say they will be scrubbing the air with activated charcoal filters they also use at their marijuana grows.

They also plan to “mitigate the sometimes harsh or tacky look of a dispensary with blacked out windows and flashing signs” by using window film with an outdoor scene instead.

The new location would have two dedicated parking spaces in front of the business and four space in the back dedicated to medical marijuana patients.

Overflow parking is available at ACE Hardware, the owners say.

The city’s Planning Commission will consider the pot shop’s request to move Thursday.

The recommendation then goes to the City Council, which will make the final decision.

Marijuana stores in Steamboat cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school, child care center or park.

Due to the variety of parks in the city, the buffer rule has essentially made it impossible for marijuana businesses to be located anywhere other than the west side of Steamboat.

In 2012, the Planning Commission and the City Council denied a request from another medical marijuana dispensary to move into a downtown location that was just steps away from Little Toots Park.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10