Steamboat planning commission endorses pot shop’s move to more central location | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat planning commission endorses pot shop’s move to more central location

Recreational marijuana is weighed and sold at Rocky Mountain Remedies in Steamboat Springs.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A marijuana dispensary in Steamboat Springs is a big step closer to moving into a more visible and accessible location between downtown and the mountain.

The city’s planning commission on Thursday night narrowly endorsed Rocky Mountain Remedies’ request to move into the new spot at 410 S. Lincoln Ave. near the intersection of Hilltop Parkway and U.S. Highway 40.

The commission's 4-3 vote of approval came despite concerns from some parents and community members about the new location's proximity to a karate academy.

A handful of other residents had also expressed opposition to moving a dispensary into the center of town.

Commissioners who approved the application agreed with city planning staff that the new location was acceptable and it was far enough of a walk to Emerald Park to meet the intent of city codes that prevent dispensaries from operating too close to parks.

Although the dispensary is technically less than 1,000 feet away from nearby Emerald Park as the crow flies, commissioners who supported the application noted that the 1,000-foot radius only touches wetlands that aren’t accessible at the park and the walking distance to it is actually greater than 1,000 feet.

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Four commissioners also did not see an issue with the dispensary being on land that is adjacent to a vacant residential parcel because of the lack of any legal access to the property as well as topography that separates the parcels

Commission Chairman Rich Levy voted in favor of the application along with commissioners George Eck III, Lee Calihan and Brian Adams.

He said Friday the state has created guidelines that marijuana stores should be regulated like liquor stores. He also noted the proposed location for RMR is near a liquor store.

"It's a business we're supposed to regulate like any other business as long as its impacts are mitigated," Levy said.

He added the karate academy near the proposed location is not a licensed child-care center, but rather a commercial business, so city codes that would require a certain amount of distance between schools and child-care facilities should not apply in RMR's case.

At least one planning commissioner agreed with concerns from the community about the marijuana dispensary not being compatible with the other nearby businesses such as the karate academy.

Commissioner Martyn Kingston opposed the application and cited concerns about the social impacts of having a marijuana dispensary so close to a karate academy.

Commissioner Tom Ptach opposed RMR’s application and said the city should draw a "line in the sand" to enforce the rule that prevents dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of a park.

Commissioner Michael Buccino was the third "no" vote.

Buccino questioned the conclusions of city staff that the adjacent vacant, residentially-zoned parcels would never be developed due to a lack of legal access to them.

He said he wanted to protect the residential parcels as the city has tried to promote infill development instead of future annexations.

RMR's relocation proposal now heads to the City Council for a final decision April 3.

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