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3rd MMJ dispensary proposed in Old Colorado City; no option for public comment

       A prominent commercial space in Old Colorado City will become a medical marijana (MMJ) dispensary, assuming that the necessary licenses can be obtained from the city and state.
       The location is 2419 W. Colorado Ave. - a single-story, 3,053-square-foot building with a fully glassed 30-foot storefront.
       An application was filed April 9, according to the City Clerk's Office, the local licensing authority. An office spokesperson said that the required review - also involving the state, which issues its own license - typically takes three to five
A recent photo shows the storefront at 2419 W. Colorado Ave. with a sign in the window for J.P. Labs, which has applied to open a medical marijuana dispensary at that location. The Old Colorado City address had been an art gallery or a gift shop over the past 20-plus years before the last business closed about a year ago.
Westside Pioneer photo
months, meaning the earliest the business could open would be July.
       Called a “medical marijuana center” in city regulations, a dispensary is where up to two ounces of pot can be bought at a time by people given “red cards” by doctors after examinations affirming their claims of pain.
       The applicant goes by the business name of J.P. Labs. This would be the second MMJ center by that name in Colorado Springs. The first opened in December at 4344 Montebello Drive (a neighborhood shopping center near Austin Bluffs and Academy), city records show.
       If the the owners mimic the Montebello storefront appearance in Old Colorado City, steel bars will cover the storefront and its glass will be darkened to reduce the ability to see inside, and people seeking admission will need to ring a buzzer beside an also-barred door. At 2419, a sign on the glass now states "JP" in big white letters on a green background, accompanied by the cross logo of MMJ and the words "coming soon."
       The Westside Pioneer left a phone message April 16 for Ken Moon, the proprietor of the Montebello J.P. Labs, but did not receive a reply before this article was posted April 21.
       The business' application for 2419 W. Colorado was submitted after the property changed hands in February from Glenn and Ruth Bjustrom, who had owned the property since 2005. The County Assessor's Office lists the new property owners as Charles and Janet Divitto.
       Although no organized opposition to the 2419 dispensary has surfaced, some Westside business owners have expressed concerns that it will damage merchant
This is the appearance of the storefront of the existing J.P. Labs dispensary in a neighborhood shopping center at 4344 Montebello Drive, off Austin Bluffs and Academy. The proposed center in Old Colorado City would be J.P. Labs' second in the city.
Westside Pioneer photo
efforts to make Old Colorado City family-friendly. While two MMJ shops have existed in the tourist-oriented historic district for close to five years (one in the 2500 block, the other in the 2600), the main worry with J.P. Labs appears to be its proximity to Bancroft Park, which is across the street. “Not a pretty scenario for the heart of OCC,” commented Dave Brackett, who owns two restaurants in the district and has been seeking additional information from the City Clerk's Office.
       However, even if numerous people were to complain to the city, claiming neighborhood incompatibility, it would not matter, according to Steve Tuck of City Planning and Development, who is assigned to MMJ applications. Such a concern is often significant in other types of land use matters, but when writing MMJ land-use regulations about five years ago, city officials decided that having a public process whenever a dispensary opened or relocated would be overly time-consuming, he explained. Reasons relate to the number of centers (89 citywide, at last count) and the likelihood that “we'd hear from a lot of folks” any time an application came in, Tuck said.
       As it stands, under the dispensary rules (specified in City Codes 2.3.101-109), the only way a hearing can occur is if it's requested by a dispensary owner, and that's solely to appeal a license denial by the City Clerk's Office. Planning and Development's role is to be a "review agency," Tuck clarified, which is tasked to give the City Clerk a "thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the zoning."
       He has not yet formally given a “thumbs-up” review for J.P. Labs in Old Colorado City, but he noted that a representative for the business had met with him previously on what's called a “preapplication,” and he saw no problems then.
       The location is in the appropriate zone, which needs to be commercial or industrial (it's C-6, general business, at 2419 W. Colorado); and parking is a non-issue (because of Old Colorado City's free municipal lots), Tuck said. The site also easily complies with other MMJ zoning rules, that a center can't be less than 400 feet from a school, an alcohol- or drug-treatment facility or a residential child-care facility.
       People wanting to run dispensaries do have to provide extensive personal and financial information in their applications to the City Clerk (11 pages) and to the Colorado Department of Revenue's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (9 pages). These applications must be accompanied by up-front fees - $2,200 to the city and between $7,500 and $18,000 to the state, based on the number of customers.
       The application at 2419 is for a medical marijuana center only, not for growing pot or infusing it into products, either of which would require a separate license, under city regulations.
       Over the previous 20-some years, the building at 2419 W. Colorado had housed the Pine Creek Art Gallery and (starting in 2011) the Touch of Class gift shop. The site has been vacant since Touch of Class closed about a year ago.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/21/15; Land: Development Proposals)

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