City Council to make final decision on pot shop move Tuesday | SteamboatToday.com

City Council to make final decision on pot shop move Tuesday

Scott Franz

To attract more business, Natural Choice wants to sell its recreational and medical marijuana to adults in the Curve Plaza shopping center. The Steamboat Springs City Council voted, 4-3, last week to deny the move.

— Steamboat Springs City Council will decide today whether it will uphold its recent decision to deny a marijuana store's move to a more visible location next to a liquor store in Curve Plaza.

But first, council will discuss whether two of its members should have voted to deny the move in the first place.

The owners of Natural Choice marijuana dispensary think council members Tony Connell and Heather Sloop should have recused themselves from the close and controversial 4-3 vote earlier this month because of potential conflicts of interest.

It has been revealed councilman Connell has had heated disagreements with the landlord of the Curve Plaza property Natural Choice is trying to move into.

Connell, last year, also unsuccessfully tried to have medical marijuana growers who are currently tenants of Natural Choice's prospective landlord evicted from his office building in west Steamboat.

And Heather Sloop's husband, Peter Sloop, also supported the effort to remove these tenants from his nearby painting business in the office complex because of issues he had with marijuana odors.

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Sloop said she voted against the move because of the marijuana dispensary's potential proximity to Ace Hardware.

"If a family wants to bike to Ace Hardware, they're going to have to bike past this," Councilwoman Heather Sloop said about the proposed pot shop location before she voted against the move. "I don't want marijuana being sold next to Girl Scouts selling hot dogs at Ace."

Connell said he denied the move, because he still wants to learn more about marijuana's impact on youth, and he didn't want to endorse a variance request that would have allowed the pot shop to operate fewer than 1,000 feet from a nearby park.

Both Connell and Sloop have strongly denied they have any conflicts of interest in regards to the vote.

"I think we have to ask each of the council members if they can be fair and impartial on this and move that forward," Council President Walter Magill said Monday. "I still think this is the wrong location for a dispensary. It's got a convenience store, a Subway and a hardware store. It's a neighborhood shopping center."

Asked whether he thought a conflict existed based on the concerns raised by Natural Choice, Magill said he felt "you can still not like somebody and still be fair and balanced on your decision-making process."

"As long as they can say they are impartial," Magill said.

Council voted 4-3 to deny Natural Choice's move earlier this month.

In addition to Sloop and Connell, Magill and Councilman Scott Ford opposed the move.

Council members who supported it pointed out the location is right next to a liquor store and the city already has allowed a marijuana business to operate in a visible location next to a restaurant with U.S. Highway 40 frontage.

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

Other agenda highlights

• The council will get an update on the downtown infrastructure improvement project that is scheduled to start next week

• The council will weigh a number of development proposals, including a 60-unit apartment building proposed for the corner of 12th Street and Lincoln Avenue. The proposal was approved by the Planning Commission by a narrow 3-2 vote.

The meeting starts at 5 p.m. in Citizens Hall on 10th Street. View the whole agenda here.