After a lengthy public discussion about potential traffic jams and parking nightmares the county's first retail pot shop could cause, the Manitou Springs City Council voted 6-1 to approve a conditional use permit for its first retail marijuana shop, Maggie's Farm at 141 Manitou Ave.
Councilmember Gary Smith cast the lone dissenting vote, and the few dozen people insided council chambers burst into applause after the vote was tallied.
Now shop proprietor Bill Conkling, who owns two Maggie's Farm medical marijuana centers in Colorado Springs, must be granted a license from Manitou Springs as well as from the State of Colorado. Conkling said he will be in Denver Wednesday to begin the state application process, which could take up to 50 days. So, the earliest the shop might open is at the end of June.
While recreational pot has proven to be a controversial topic, it was parking and traffic that was the center of dispute.
Councilmembers and police Chief Joe Ribeiro wondered how they might manage heavy traffic during the first week the shop opens.
Ribeiro said even a 10 car backup would "overwhelm" his department.
Mayor Marc Snyder said the city might be able to offer a free shuttle to help with overflow on opening day.
Some questioned whether the location, a former auto garage, would offer enough parking spaces.
Conkling and architect Doug Fullen said the store will have more than enough parking spaces, which will include 37 overflow spaces at the building that was formerly a car museum
Council stressed that an access agreement must be made with the owners of the Loaf 'N Jug that sits just east of Conkling's property.
Conkling said he intends to comply
"I want to be a good business neighbor to Manitou Springs," said Conkling, who lives in Denver and is a Colorado Springs native.
So far Conkling has held up his end of the deal.
Manitou Springs planning director Wade Burkholder said Conkling has complied with conditions required after the April 9 planning meeting. Those conditions pertained to parking, access, landscaping and lighting at the proposed store location.
Conkling, 50, said last month that while the licensing process is taking a long time, he remains patient.
"I'm impatient to serve the retail marijuana customers," he said. "It's not all about the money."
The City Council in the town of about 5,200 west of Colorado Springs legalized retail sales Jan. 21 on a 6-1 vote. The amendment to the city code allows two marijuana stores to be operated in the town's commercial district, but not in the downtown sector. Most of the commercial zone is east of City Hall along Manitou Avenue.