Marijuana moratorium, land purchase, standing up for local government
By Lynn Volkens
Black Hawk Mayor David Spellman and City Council members Linda Armbright, Paul Bennett, Diane Cales, Jim Johnson, Greg Moates, and Benito Torres began their meeting of February 13, 2013 by recognizing the lifesaving efforts of three citizens who came to the aid of a guest at the Red Dolly Casino on August 13, 2012.
Life Saving Award
Black Hawk Police Chief Stephen Cole explained that Jan & Arthur Firtion of Thornton were visiting the Red Dolly Casino in August when they saw another guest, Mr. Eckert, in distress. He was not breathing and had no pulse. They and Red Dolly employee Robert Steinman began CPR, working cooperatively until Eckert resumed breathing on his own and regained consciousness. Medical personnel arrived and transported him to the hospital where he recovered fully. Cole credited the quick actions of the three good Samaritans with saving Eckert’s life. Mayor Spellman recognized their efforts as well, and presented the three with Certificates of Life Saving Awards.
Ameristar Parking Signs
The Aldermen adopted Resolution 05-2013 which approved an amendment to the comprehensive sign and gave conditional approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness for new signs at the Ameristar Casino. There will be three new signs, all in the current lantern-style, which will help direct visitors to the parking garage entrance on Richman Street. One of the signs will be at the corner of Richman and Highway 119. The other two will be located at the entrance to the parking garage. Approval was conditioned on obtaining all required permits prior to installation.
Marijuana Business and Social Club Moratorium
City Attorney Corey Hoffmann explained that, with the passage of Amendment 64 allowing recreational use of marijuana in Colorado, the state must have rules in place regarding marijuana businesses (cultivation, testing, retail, product sales, etc.) by next December. Amendment 64 does not address marijuana social clubs – venues not open to the public, wherein paying members can consume marijuana. Black Hawk also has no Municipal Code regulating social clubs. In approving Council Bill 10, the Aldermen decided to place a one-year moratorium on marijuana businesses and social clubs within City limits, review the regulations created by the state later this year, and then decide how Black Hawk will handle the matter after that.
Green Lake IGA
Council Bill 11 was also approved. It amends the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Black Hawk and Clear Creek County concerning the operation and maintenance of the water works at Green Lake. The amendment allows for Black Hawk and Clear Creek County to pursue a contract for insurance on the facility together, as joint parties, rather than each having to provide insurance individually. The financial obligation of each party was determined by the ratio of ownership: 17/27ths for Black Hawk and 10/27ths for Clear Creek County.
Employee Retirement Plan
In adopting Resolution 6-2013, the Aldermen established a Money Purchase Plan and Trust, in which full-time employees and elected officials (who begin their service to the City after the date this Plan is enacted) are required to contribute 6% of their base pay (i.e., bonuses and overtime pay are excluded) to their retirement fund. The City will match that 6%. Retirement age for the City’s retirement benefits begins as early as 59 ½ years of age. Black Hawk employees become vested at 20% after one year and are 100% vested following five years of employment. ICMA Retirement Corporation was appointed as the administrator of the plan. The Aldermen stipulated that enactment of the Plan is subject to final approval of the city’s pension attorney. “We want people to step up and be responsible for their future – and we will help them,” Mayor Spellman commented.
Quartz Valley Real Estate Deal
If all goes well, Black Hawk will close on the purchase of 4.7 acres located in Quartz Valley on March 22, 2013. The land is the Ben Crenshaw Mine, currently owned by Sue Ann Mohr of Lawrence, KS. The purchase price is $50,000. This is one of several properties the City hopes to purchase for open space and reservoir purposes. In approving this purchase via the adoption of Resolution 7-2013, Attorney Hoffmann told the Aldermen they were well underway to acquiring the needed properties, that this was the second one finalized, and that eminent domain may be the path needed to acquire some future properties.
The Aldermen had approved Council Bill 25, last year, which stated the City’s intent to acquire the following ten properties via eminent domain action: The Ben Crenshaw (U.S. Mineral Survey No. 5573); The Ben Crenshaw No. 2 Lode (Survey No. 4800); The Sarah E. Lode (Survey No. 19075, excepting portions embraced in Survey Nos. 7417 and 19052); The Robert G. Ingersol Lode (Survey No. 11016); The Kinney Tunnel Lode (Survey No. 310); The Virginia Extension Lode (Survey No. 11016); The Queen of the West Lode (Survey No. 425, excepting portions embraced in Survey Nos. 240,359 and 467); The Robert Emmett Lode (Survey No. 4696); the Golden Gate Lode (Survey No. 12681); and the Onondaga Chief (Survey No. 15506).
Residential Grant Program
The next five residential properties lined up in the queue for work funded under the City’s Residential Grant Program (with owner name in parenthesis) are 213 Horn Street (Lovingier); 301 Chase Street (Branecki); 311 Chase Street (Branecki and Dornbrock); 101 Marchant (Lovingier); and 271 Church Street (Larkins). The scope of work for the first three properties is complete rehabilitation. At 101 Marchant, work would be done on two ancillary structures; a coal shed and garage, as well as removing a stairwell that encroaches on the street. Exterior painting, drainage and rock wall work are needed at the Church Street property. The Council must approve final agreements prior to any of the work beginning. They favored working on adjacent properties at the same time, if possible, due to cost savings and less disruption to the neighborhood. Mayor Spellman was assured these properties are those in the order of the queue. “We can’t move someone up,” he stressed. Planning Department Director Cindy Linker said the goal is to try to complete each project, “from concept to conclusion” in twelve months. Work could start on the next residential project in early to mid-June.
The home at 311 Chase Street is in the process of being sold. When a property in the grant program queue is sold, it requires (and in this case, received) Council approval to maintain its place in the queue.
Fire Truck Sold
Black Hawk recently took possession of a new fire truck and was successful in finding a buyer for the old one. The fire department in Vinemont, AL bought the truck at a price of $42,800, pending inspection. Black Hawk City Manager Jack Lewis said that price may need to be reduced to allow for the possibility of head gasket replacement. Proceeds from the sale will be put toward equipping the new truck.
Senate Bill 25
Via consensus, the Council directed Lewis and Hoffmann to draft a letter opposing Senate Bill 25, a bill which basically allows firefighters to unionize without the approval of local voters or elected officials. Lewis, in providing an update from the Colorado Municipal League said the bill brings up Constitutional issues and issues of overriding the voters by mandating unions. Mayor Spellman concurred, “The bill usurps the ability for local municipalities to self-govern. That’s not right. We need to be in charge of our own house.” Alderman Torres said it goes beyond just this bill and that he’d like to see the letter make a more general statement about the need for cities to be respected. “It’s not just this question,” he said, “and it keeps us wasting time. There’s a reason why there are different levels of government.” “We do not appreciate the state legislature trying to manage the City of Black Hawk,” the Mayor concluded.
Jeannie Larkins, the owner of the property at 271 Church Street, summarized prior work done at that home, and work needed now that she’d like to see funded through the City’s grant program. Alderman Torres requested discussion about the matter in the executive session.
Following the business portion of the meeting, the Aldermen met with their attorney in Executive Session to discuss matters related to the acquisition of properties and pending litigation.
Black Hawk City Council meets next on February 27, 2013. Interested parties are able to access agendas and supporting documents for Council meetings via the City’s website, www.cityofblackhawk.org. Click on “Government” and then scroll down to “Council Packet” and click on the date of the meeting in question. Black Hawk generally has this information available five days prior to the meeting date.