No marijuana smoking clubs in Central City

Central City Council votes to ban smoking clubs in city limits

By David Josselyn

The Central City Council met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at roughly 7:02 which Mayor Ron Engels referred to as “a little after seven.” All members were present.

Consent Agenda

The first item of business was approving the consent agenda which included the regular bill lists of August 21, 28 and September 4, 11; and the City Council minutes of August 19. Alderman Shirley Voorhies moved to approve the regular bill lists and Council minutes and was seconded by Alderman Gloria Gaines. The motion passed unanimously.

Public Forum

The Council opened the floor to the public for addressing any issue on the evening’s agenda. No one signed up to address the council.

No pot smoking in Central

City Attorney Marcus McAskin reviewed the second reading of Ordinance 14-07 for the council. The ordinance clarifies existing language in the Municipal Code affirming that the only two marijuana entities in the City will be retail and medical sites and that other businesses, such as smoking clubs, are not allowed. The Ordinance was precipitated by the proposal to turn the former Scarlett’s building into a movie theater which would allow smoking all tobacco including marijuana on the premises. Mayor Engels asked for a point of clarification, that this ordinance would not effect, not make any changes, to the existing prohibitions. Attorney McAskin replied that is true, this Ordinance complies with all existing laws and its only purpose is to tighten up language regarding the intent of the law. When the Ordinance was opened up for public forum, two citizens took the opportunity to address the council.

Kathleen Ashpaugh, citizen of Central, spoke first saying she feels the Ordinance prohibiting incoming businesses is opposite of the goals talked about previously. Ashpaugh said a smoking club would provide new foot traffic and “may attract tourists, out of state folks” and provide a new venue to “use their new purchases.” Ashpaugh ended saying “this is an opportunity for the City to say yes to an innovative business.”

Judy Laratta, citizen of Central and candidate for City Council, next voiced her opinion. “I think the city is looking for reasons to turn down businesses,” said Laratta.

Alderman Gaines moved to approve Ordinance 14-07 and was seconded by Alderman Voorhies. Alderman Kathy Heider stated, “I don’t think we can be accused of not inviting businesses” in reference to being the first city in the country to allow medical marijuana shops. “But I don’t see how a smoking lounge would benefit.” Alderman Gaines followed saying “I get the part of seeming not friendly to new businesses, but I would like to be a little more discretionary about what those businesses are.” Gaines also said that they had no firm numbers that the proposed club would increase or add revenue for the City. This statement was backed up by Attorney McAskin. Mayor Engels said that “even though there are several smoke clubs open, their legality is questionable at this time.” Engels added that any increase to revenues appears to be negligible. The ordinance passed unanimously.

Colorado Cities and Towns Week

Manager Miera introduced Resolution 14-15 to the Council. The Resolution would recognize Colorado Cities and Towns Week and encourage citizens to support the celebration and corresponding activities. Miera also stated there would be no impact on the budget other than time for himself and other staff to attend the activities. Alderman Gaines moved to approve Resolution 14-15 and was seconded by Alderman Bob Spain. The motion passed unanimously.

A Clean bill of health

Finance Director Shannon Flowers addressed the council regarding the findings from the 2013 Audit. Flowers stated, “It was a clean audit” and “there were no management letters.” What this means is that “things are going well financially.” Alderman Heider complemented Flowers saying she thinks it is great Flowers is working with an “antique accounting system” and can still produce a clean audit with no items to report. Flowers said that the report will be available to the public after adoption. Alderman Voorhies moved to accept and approve the 2013 Audit and was seconded by Alderman Spain. The motion passed unanimously.

Property and Casualty Insurance Renewal

Director Flowers reviewed the quote for the 2015 CIRSA Property/Casualty and Workman’s Comp. The cost is a decrease from 2014 due to fewer claims and fewer anticipated capital improvements. Alderman Voorhies moved to formally accept the quote and was seconded by Alderman Spain. The motion passed unanimously.

Flowers and Miera as Check Signers

Director Flowers next introduced Resolution 14-16 which would change the signatories for checks. Prior to Flowers’ sabbatical, Finance Clerk Whitney Adler was given authority to sign checks for the City. With Shannon’s return and the hire of Daniel Miera as City Manager, the Resolution removes Whitney as signatory, adds back Flowers and adds Miera. Alderman Heider moved to approve Resolution 14-16 and was seconded by Alderman Voorhies. The motion passed unanimously.

Staff Updates and Council Comments

Alderman Gaines thanked Manager Miera for submitting a written report. “It’s the first one I’ve seen from a city manager.”

Alderman Voorhies thanked Utilities Superintendent Shawn Griffith for the Parkway work. “It’s been a hardship for everybody and I understand that.” Voorhies followed saying, “A couple more weeks I’m hoping and we’ll get it open for everybody.” Mayor Engels added, “Kudos, Shawn, for your organization.” Engels also mentioned that we will now be working two shifts and things will be moving forward more quickly.

Public Forum

The Council opened up the floor to the public for comment on any issues. Executive Director of the Business Improvement District Joe Behm took this opportunity to address the Council. Behm said the “BID is very interested” in launching a public relations campaign encouraging everyone to use I-70 and the Central City Parkway once the Twin Tunnels project is complete. Alderman Gaines informed Behm that a story on the news projected the Twin Tunnels project to be completed by December 16th.

Alderman Voorhies addressed Behm saying that this is her first opportunity to let you know the Beer Fest was very good and very well done. Behm jokingly replied, “It takes this long to recover.”

Next Meeting

The meeting adjourned at 7:37 to enter into an executive session. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, October 7, for the next regular council meeting.

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