Black Hawk City Council approves article concerning retail marijuana establishments

Also approves resolution on agreement with Monarch Growth

By Patty Unruh

The Black Hawk City Council met the afternoon of September 25, for the first time in their newly remodeled facility. Those present were Mayor David Spellman, Aldermen Benito Torres, Gregory Moates, Diane Cales, Linda Armbright, Paul Bennett, and Jim Johnson, City Clerk Jeanne Magno, City Manager Jack Lewis, and City Attorney Corey Hoffmann.

Public Hearing on Retail Marijuana Establishments

The Council unanimously approved CB 45, a bill for an ordinance amending the Black Hawk Municipal Code by the addition of a new Article XVIII of Chapter 6 entitled “Retail Marijuana Establishments.”

In the bill, the Council found that Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in November 2012 legalizing the possession, use, purchase, transport, transfer, and consumption of marijuana by persons 21 or older. The Colorado Legislature enacted the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, clarifying Colorado law regarding the scope and extent of Amendment 64. That Code authorizes the licensing and regulation of retail marijuana businesses and gives local government the option to determine whether or not to allow those businesses within their jurisdiction and to adopt licensing requirements that are more or less restrictive than state law.

Accordingly, the Council determined that by requiring retail marijuana businesses to operate in a way that minimizes potential health and safety risks, the negative impacts that those businesses might have on surrounding properties and persons would be lessened.

The Council determined that through an ordinance amending the Municipal Code, it intends to establish a nondiscriminatory way that the City can control the location and operation of retail marijuana establishments within the City.

It will be unlawful for any person to establish or operate a retail marijuana business in the City without first properly obtaining a license.

A licensed store may sell up to one ounce of retail marijuana in a single transaction to Colorado residents or up to one-quarter ounce to a non-Colorado resident. Cultivation facilities and testing facilities are prohibited in the City. A licensed medical marijuana business may share its existing licensed premises with a retail marijuana establishment. Distance regulations will apply, and each establishment is to be operated from a permanent location; none are permitted to operate from a mobile location.

City Attorney Hoffman advised that there was a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments in the City and that if the Council adopted the Bill, it would allow marijuana establishments to be licensed. He said it would be no different than the licensing process in the State. If adopted, the next step would be rezoning to allow establishments in the City’s hard district; the distance regulations would still apply.

There was no comment by the public.

Partial Exemption Regarding Monarch Growth, Inc.

The Council unanimously approved Resolution 36-2013 granting a partial exemption from the provisions of Chapter 17 of the Black Hawk Municipal Code regarding Monarch Growth, Inc.

On April 10, 2013, the City had approved a subdivision agreement between the City and Monarch. The City approved the final plat and other land use approvals to authorize Monarch to construct a hotel, casino, and parking garage on property within the City. The Council further authorized acquisition of certain property necessary to construct public improvements.

Property adjacent to the Monarch-owned property was owned by a separate property owner. That property was required in order to do the construction of the public improvements. The City was unable to acquire this necessary public improvement property through good faith negotiations and initiated eminent domain proceedings in Gilpin County District Court.

City Attorney Hoffman told the Council that on September 13, 2013, the Court granted the City immediate possession of the necessary public improvement property. The City is to provide a deposit of $765,600. This is the first step in the eminent domain process in getting unencumbered title to the necessary public improvement property, but Hoffman said the deposit has not yet been made. Also, in order to go forward, the plat must be signed by all owners. Title has not yet vested in the City, and the current owner(s) of the necessary public improvement property are not willing to sign the final plat. Hoffman said the attorney for the owners called the Court’s decision “premature and improper” and will probably file a petition with the Colorado Supreme Court.

The Council’s approving the exemption will authorize Monarch to begin construction in advance of filing the final plat.

Next Meeting

The next Council meeting is October 9 at 3:00 p.m. at 211 Church Street, Black Hawk.

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