Work session addresses marijuana and water main funding issues
By David Josselyn
The Central City Council met for a work session on Tuesday, July 16th.
Ironing out marijuana regulations
City Attorney Marcus McAskin presented to the council a rough draft of an ordinance to legislate the licensing and retailing of marijuana. Although the weed will legally be available in Colorado for retail and consumption; cultivation, manufacturing and distribution activities will be prohibited. Retail licenses will be valid for 1 year. No stores selling the drug will be permitted near a single family residence, or allowed to be mobile such as a food truck. Alderman Gaines enquired whether the city would be handling marijuana licensing similar to the way they handle liquor licensing; Attorney McAskin confirmed that was the case. Alderman Gaines further questioned whether a clause concerning possession remaining a federal crime protects the city from liability. Mayor Engels replied that the city does not need protection because the city is not possessing or selling marijuana. Under U.S. law, the federal regulators can shut down stores selling or possessing marijuana because the drug remains a controlled substance. Marcus affirmed there are clauses stating that possession of and carrying across state lines remains a felony. To be compliant with the new state law, the legislation needs to be finalized by first of October. The 1st reading will be on Tuesday, August 20th, and the 2nd reading and public hearing will be the 3rd of September.
Residential parking solution/options
At a prior meeting, City Manager Alan Lanning was directed to present a restricted parking plan for the Lawrence Street residential area heading up to Johnny Z’s and the Century casinos. There are about 10 parking spaces in front of the houses which have inappropriately been used by visitors to the city. Lanning’s proposed plan begins with an application form for the residents which would be renewed annually along with a fee of $25. The resident would then receive a decal for up to two vehicles. The city will put up restricted parking signage along the area. Lanning looked to the council for the appropriateness of the fee and cautioned them that towing presents a new set of problems. If the city starts towing, under what parameters will they tow and how will they handle liability for damages? Alderman Kathy Heider asked if the parking would be all or nothing or would it be a mix of restricted and public parking spaces. Alderman Gaines stated she would rather see us get the revenue of the tickets, and not from the application. She continued, “I’m not a big fan of towing, there are all kinds of issues that comes with towing.” Police Chief Terry Krelle spoke up saying that a car has to sit for 72 hours after ticketing to be towed. He went on to say he does not recommend assigning permits to residents. Instead, he recommends restricting the spaces, but have residents keep their auto registrations up to date. The officers know who’s parking there and they can run the plates of unfamiliar vehicles, and then issue a ticket. “I would take it in stages by trying this,” Krelle said, and then move into something more severe if needed. “I caution you, by doing this, I’ve already heard rumbling from other residential areas that may want you to do the same thing there,” warned Krelle. Once the new restrictions are in place, the police department will generally do warnings for 30 days before issuing tickets.
Project loan options
City Manager Alan Lanning was asked to bring funding alternatives to the Lawrence Street main water line at the meeting. Lost revenue from the closing of Doc Holliday’s has prompted the council to look elsewhere for project monies. Lanning reported that we can acquire a USDA rural development loan, but the time frame would be six months to a year at an interest rate of 2.7% which, Lanning felt, the year out is not a good option for us. The city can also get an Evergreen bank loan at about 5.5% interest with the same term, but it can be done relatively quickly. Colorado Business Bank has similar interest rates, Lanning continued, but past history anticipates they are little bit tough to deal with. The City Manager then presented an idea from Finance Director, Shannon Flowers. She suggested spending money on a temporary repair to the Nevada Street retaining wall project and using the rest of that money for the Lawrence Street water line. A conference call with construction companies including JBA Construction and Kumar Construction, revealed that there is a repair that we can implement on the retaining wall to make it last until next spring that would cost about fifty thousand dollars. The temporary repair would bring in big rock to stack along the wall, effectively holding back any movement and further erosion. Alderman Gaines confirmed that what Alan Lanning is suggesting is that instead of fixing Nevada Street this year, we’ll put on a temporary fix and do the Lawrence Street project now. She went on to say she “is not happy about spending an extra $50k on the project; however, I would rather do this to fix Lawrence Street which is a potential life and health safety matter.” Alderman Shirley Voorhies spoke up to say there has already been no fire protection for a couple of people on the 4th (of July), and there has been a leak on Lawrence Street. What can we do to get that started now? Lanning said the issue boils down to the speed of borrowing the money we need. Lanning hopes to have cost estimates on the retaining wall by July 19th. Mayor Ron Engels questioned the temporary fix asking how many parking spaces will we lose and will the owner of the lot be okay with the plan? Lanning did not have an answer tonight. Alderman Heider agreed that they should go ahead with the Lawrence Street project as quickly as possible. Engels asked what the difference in cost would be between interest rates. Finance Director Flowers stated that she could run some numbers, but there would be differences depending on the expediency of the loans and what collateral the city used for the loans. The council advised Lanning to go ahead with the plan for a temporary fix on Nevada Street allowing the Lawrence Street project to go forward as soon as possible.