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Commissioners approve marijuana grow facility

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Located mid-Gilpin County behind the car wash

by Jaclyn Schrock

Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at 9 am Gilpin County Commissioners opened their bi-monthly meeting. There appear to be maybe two more month of being displaced from the Old Courthouse, 203 Eureka Street in Central City while remodeling occurs. Since December 2017, these meetings have been held in the Central City Courtroom on the 2nd floor of 141 Nevada Street.Present were: Commissioner District #1 Ron Engles, Board Chair, District #2 Commissioner Linda Isenhart, District #3 Commissioner Gail Watson, along with Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate, County Manager Leslie Klusmire, and County Attorney Jim Petrock. In the audience and speaking for public record with the Commissioners were: Gilpin’s County Clerk & Recorder Colleen Stewart, Chief Deputy Clerk Gail Maxwell, Community Development Director Stephen Strohminger, County Planner Daniel Horn, County Support Manager Dwight Shellman from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, and two Gilpin residents who made comments during public comment opportunities. Cindy McCollum requested to make a public comment on the 2nd agenda item, so was asked to save her comment until that was opened for discussion.

Election Supervision Dillema

2018 is a general election year, so Gilpin’s County Clerk is responsible for continuing to assure accurate election results. Gilpin County has a well-established history of efficient elections. This election has challenges so that the Colorado Secretary of State Office has been called in for guidance. The first concern is that Gilpin’s elected County Clerk Colleen Stewart, who manages all the people who work the election, plans to retire at the end of her term, on election day. Chief Deputy Clerk Gail Maxwell, who has been Stewart’s closest coworker, is the one who has experience doing all the technical work to produce the election results. However, Maxwell wishes to run in this election for the position of Gilpin County Clerk, so it could be considered awkward to also be the one to validate the vote count. Anticipating this issue to occur for the primary and general election of 2018, Stewart had requested budget funding from the Commissioners for the firm that produced the Dominion Voting system used in our county to provide personnel to validate the voter count, since the two primary persons doing so would not be eligible due to conflict of interest. The Board however had rejected that request, and it was not included in the 2018 budget.

Dwight Shellman spoke to the commissioners after Ms. Stewart publicly reviewed the dilemma for the commissioners. Shellman said that in these sorts of conditions in the past, the State Office had provided trained workers at a considerable cost. However, there are no extra people trained in their office available to work the Dominion Voting system, although most counties use this system. He said that it is unreasonable to consider bringing in anyone new to Gilpin County election staff that could be trained in time for the election to cover both positions. Shellman also recognized that the director of most state and county departments is a manager of the people who do the technical work, so asking Stewart to stay on would not be reasonable because she most likely does not have the hands-on experience with the software to work it effectively for the election without Gail’s participation.  He recognized the very challenging position that the county is in and encouraged the Board to seek support options for this situation. This would most likely be from Dominion Voting, the producer of the software used for the election in Gilpin County, to help create the ballots and monitor the results. No Board action was made, beyond asking questions to find solutions and planning a work session on the topic.

Proposed Marijuana Cultivation Facility

The Commissioner’s first public hearing regarding the Special Use Request (SUR) 17-01 application from Colorado Gold, LLP was February 20, 2018 in accordance with Ordinance 17-01. The Board, encouraged by County Attorney Jim Petrock, made a request at that time to delay a decision pending information from a water use study and an Augmentation Plan for the facility. The applicants Cole Caldwell and Nel Fymbo previously provided much information from their experience cultivating marijuana in Pueblo, but did not have information for their planned facility in Gilpin, until today’s presentation made by Daniel Horn. The location of the marijuana grow operation would be directly behind the Gilpin Car Wash at 130 Jankowski Drive off of Hwy 119 near Taggart’s convenience store/ gas station. Little Kingdom Storage is located on one side and McCollum’s Excavating is on the other side.

At this time Cindy McCollum presented her concerns as a neighbor to have had challenges with their shop’s water pressure during the times four years ago, when the car wash was beginning. There may have been problems with the pipe which brought the water to the 15 commercial properties which use the same water system. Once that was corrected, two gallons per minute to each property has been believed to be available. Her main concern was with the availability of water for all the properties so that one property did not deplete their water supply. She also commented that it was not her choice to have neighbors operating a marijuana grow facility, which is their right to do by the law, but they could work things out as neighbors.

Daniel Horn gave the Board a copy of the updated results of Colorado Gold’s study and plan. Caldwell, then, gave an overview and review of the original application. Colorado Gold will be relocating operations from Pueblo, to the building Mr. Krug will be leasing them after building a 100 x 100 foot building on his property behind the car wash. He did explain that plans had been included to bring in water from other sources to maintain double the required amount of water fire protection requires for their proposed facility. They intend to have 10,000 gallons of water available at all times in their cisterns for the operation of their facility. He explained that the water released in the air is captured to recycle and water the plants with again. What they may not obtain from the shared well water, they will supplement from delivered water, at considerable cost, and strictly monitored to verify where the water came from with the State Division of Colorado Division of Resources. The car wash is said to use about 220 gallons a day and the remaining 2,660 gallons of usable water for that property a day would be available to the grow operation. This proposal for Colorado Gold grow operation would be sharing that amount with the car wash, being located on the same property.

Once each commissioner had a copy of this new information and had been given time to review it, the meeting progressed. With a few more questions to make public how security is monitored by the state, a limited number of employees are constantly monitored and the smell of cultivation is assured to be eliminated from leaving their building, the board closed the public hearing portion and proceeded to make a motion concerning SUR17-01. The motion to accept the application for Special Use at 130 Jankowski Drive was passed unanimously. This project is to be overseen by Gilpin’s Community Development Department and was recognized for this new adventure they will be taking.

Tax-Free Gaming Coupons

The agenda was moved out of sequence to make contact with David Farahi, General Manager of the Monarch Casino. The Board communicated with him by speaker phone. The tax-free Casino coupons are being discussed publicly after a meeting next Monday with the Commissioners, Mayors of both Black Hawk and Central City, and others from the casino business commission. The Board considered this issue last year and did not make progress to have state regulations altered. This year the consideration is different, with the idea of tax free casino coupons being considered as an option to draw more gamblers to Colorado Casinos rather than seeing them go off to Nevada. The City of Black Hawk, with international casino ownership is vigorously pushing for the idea. Central City, with five of their six casinos being locally owned, does not see the benefit of having tax-free coupons. With these two contrasting opinions, the Commissioners chose to take a neutral stance on the topic, and believe they have little influence to encourage the state to change the current regulations. No action was required.

Boundary Line Elimination

Daniel Horn presented the request to combine two properties owned by the same individual which are vacant. The Board approved the request.

Legal Report

County Attorney Jim Petrock reported that he has been in many court hearings and testified often regarding the extortion charges against a group that had attempted to gain money from multiple Colorado counties. The latest individual on trial has been considered for 34 counts and sentencing will come soon. In June there will be another trial for another of the group members.

Justice Center Hot Water

The request to obtain proposals from engineering companies to assess the problem at the Justice Center and to recommend modifications or repairs has not been responsive. All four companies that looked at the issue declined to make a proposal. One company eventually agreed to make a proposal that only replaced the system rather than recognizing what caused it to fail, while the same materials and water are used at the Recreation Center and has not had the perpetual problems the Justice Center has had.

Water testing for mineral content has been questioned as a potential cause. An on-demand hot water system is also considered, rather than replace the current hot water system. More time and results are needed for a decision by the Commissioners.

Commissioner’s Report

It was noted that all Commissioners activities and public meetings are listed on the Gilpin County website www.gilpincounty.org/ on the Commissioners page. There was a discussion about the remodeling of the Old Courthouse project. Watson has ordered replacement granite counters, but installers have not been arranged, it appears to be workable with the budget even though the old counters falling apart was unexpected when disassembled to do work on the floor. Also, concern for the public walk spaces not matching the new wood floors has been considered with a proposal to sand and re-varnish the old floors.

Considering ways to overcome access to trails in the Rollinsville area which private property owners have changed from their original agreement to allow trail access was discussed and options considered. More opportunities to avoid trespassing are being developed.

The Commissioners approved a motion to provide funds to provide refreshments for a meeting regarding public transportation between Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties. There have been two meeting in Clear Creek, and to gain Gilpin resident attendance, a meeting in the next month will be held in a Gilpin County location.

County Manager’s Report

County Manager Leslie Klusmire reported that the County positions are fully staffed, although some individuals changed their position. All is well with many projects in the works.

Public Comment

Public comment was given by Sue Bechtolt of Rollinsville. As a senior with many senior neighbors, the pool is the best relief most of them can find for their aches and pains. She was concerned about water usage for many times the pool has needed to be closed or drained. She also voiced her appreciation for the facility, but was concerned that though Gilpin Residents can use the Clear Creek pool while the Gilpin pool will be closed for the lining to be replaced, she cannot drive herself there.

Next Meeting

The next regular meeting of the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners will be March 27, 2018 at 141 Nevada Street, Central City, CO.

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