Our view: Council shows flexibility
The Steamboat Springs City Council has reversed an earlier decision and will allow a local marijuana retail business to relocate to Curve Plaza
Regardless of individual views on marijuana legalization, it is commendable that City Council was willing to revisit the issue and take into account additional information
Fifteenth century British poet John Lydgate famously observed, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
Those words — or words similar to them — may well have been on the minds of Steamboat Springs City Council members Tuesday when they reversed an earlier decision and voted to allow Natural Choice, one of Steamboat’s three local marijuana retail stores, to relocate to a more visible location in Curve Plaza.
Natural Choice’s request proved contentious from the start. Opponents — noting the Curve Plaza location lies 977 feet, as the crow flies, from Bear River Park — said the move would violate city code, which prohibits marijuana retail stores from operating within 1,000 feet of a school, child care facility or park.
They further argued that allowing a marijuana store to set up shop next door to two family restaurants and a stone’s throw from a family oriented hardware outlet would not be in keeping with the community-friendly flavor of the shopping center.
Initially, City Council agreed, voting 4-3 April 5 to deny Natural Choice’s request.
But subsequent allegations of an undisclosed conflict of interest involving Councilman Tony Connell, who had voted against the move, prompted City Council to set the matter for reconsideration and force Connell to recuse himself from the revote.
Without Connell’s vote, the tally changed to 3-3, and a reversal by Council President Walter Magill tipped the scales to the eventual 4-2 approval.
Magill said no single facet of the debate had changed his mind, rather that research he undertook between the two votes persuaded him the endorse the move.
As an aside, there is a certain irony in the thought that, had Connell recused himself from the beginning, the original vote would have been 3-3, the request would have failed and there would have been no conflict-of-interest grounds to revisit the issue.
The legalized sale of recreational and medicinal marijuana in Colorado will likely be a topic of debate for years to come. There are excellent points to be made on both sides of the issue, and we won’t rehash those points here.
But like it or not, Colorado voters approved the legalization of marijuana, and accordingly, marijuana businesses are now legitimate establishments that deserve equal treatment under the law. And while we offer no opinion on whether City Council made the right decision in this instance, we commend its members for acknowledging their initial action may have been improper and taking steps to correct that impropriety, perceived or otherwise.
We particularly commend Magill for his initiative in further researching the issue and his willingness to reverse his position based upon that research.
It’s gratifying to know we have a city council that’s willing to consider all aspects of a question — even new information gathered after the fact. In our view, that’s precisely what a city needs and wants from its leadership: open-mindedness, flexibility and willingness to compromise.
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