The Colorado Weedery will not be moving its marijuana retail store to the Grande River Vineyards location near the Interstate 70 exit in Palisade after the Board of Trustees denied its application for a conditional use permit Tuesday night.
Many members of the public spoke in favor of the proposed move from Peach Avenue to Elberta Avenue, noting Weedery owners Jesse and Desa Loughman’s contributions to the community and the effect the move would have to alleviate traffic in the downtown area.
The trustees, however, were moved by comments that turning a prominent location that, historically, had been used for the production and sale of wine to marijuana retail would harm the aesthetic and character of a key entrance into the town.
“I am going to sit on the side of not supporting the CUP (conditional use permit) because I do feel that the location, the character of that area, the adjoining properties, the historical nature of this community and our economy is … the fruit and wine capital of Colorado,” Trustee Thea Chase said. “That’s what we want people to think when they drive by and that’s what we want them to think when they drive in.”
Prior to the vote, Jesse Loughman touted his businesses contributions and success in Palisade and highlighted their work to present their business in a way that fit with the character of the town. He said with Grand Junction potentially approving marijuana businesses this spring, the move was critical to the future success of his business. “It’s very disheartening to see that we would go here and potentially not be approved to move our business because it will absolutely kill our business if Junction comes on and we don’t get to have an opportunity to set this up,” Loughman said.
The trustees briefly discussed tabling the application in order to have a traffic study produced, which could show the impact on area roads from the new use. Chase suggested voting on denying the application first, in order to spare the business the expense of a traffic study in the event it would be denied for alternative reasons.
Several local business owners spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting including the owner of Grande River Vineyards Steven Smith, who urged the trustees to approve the application. Ian Kelley, the general manager for Wine Country Inn, which neighbors the property in question, asked the trustees to deny it.