WALSENBURG — With two staunch opponents of local legislation approving retail/recreational marijuana sales within the City of Walsenburg absent, and the newest council member voting against it, passage of ordinances on second reading regarding the issue passed the Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night on a 6 to 1 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Craig Lessar and council member Silvana Lind, both consistant ‘no’ votes against recreational marijuana sales, missed the council meeting this week. Recent Ward II appointee, John Salazar II, a Walsenburg Police Sergeant, voted against Ordinance 1057 on second reading, but opposition would likely not been enough to carry the day had all members of the council been in attendance. Ordinance 1057 allows retail marijuana stores, retail cultivation facilities, retail products manufacturing and retail marijuana testing facilities within the city limits. Ordinance 1058 which spells out what retail marijuana related activities are allowed in specific city zones, will be addressed at the next council meeting for second reading. Before that ordinance can be voted on, the city council must hold a public hearing. The date and time for that hearing will be announced in the near future. Voting in favor of legal retail marijuana businesses in the city Tuesday night were Rick Jennings, Charles Montoya, Nick Vigil, Troy Reeves, Clint Boehler, and Mayor James Eccher. The seven members present did unanimously approve Ordinance
1056 on second reading which establishes a treated water rate for greenhouses and warehouses for the purpose of growing plants. In other business ,the city council also voted 7-0 to approve Ordinance 1059 on first reading. The ordinance redraws the city council boundary lines and reduces the number of Wards in the city to three from four. Two proposed lease agreements regarding property at the city owned ranch were denied by council Tuesday night. One, a request from Dean and Lori Silva, sought a long term lease of approximately 24 acres of hay ground to include irrigation water usage for that parcel and approximately 50 acres of river ground that adjoins the sewer plant and the corrals on the Corsentino ranch. Council concluded this is not the appropriate time to consider the proposal as this will be property used for construction access during the Northlands project. The city did agree to help the Silvas with some unauthorized access issues to the property which could include a gate or cable barrier installation. Brian Rosino, representing District ONE, had sought a lease for a site slightly less than five acres for vegetable growing. The city council was advised by city attorney Dan Hyatt to have the city’s water attorney review the request before any action was taken. Hyatt also reminded city council they have set a precedent in putting all potential land leases out for competitive bid. During the finance committee meeting, Mayor Eccher thanked the Northlands property owners for coming up with over $150,000 in about a week’s time to fulfill the bonding company requirement on the current water/sewer bond for an annual bond payment amount to be in place, before the new bond issue for Northlands and interim financing agreement for that project can be fully implemented. Council also heard about an upcoming fundraising event tentatively scheduled for late April or early May 2015, to raise money for the purchase and training for a new Walsenburg Police Department canine. Salazar said the Dutch Shepherd, Magnum, is in training now in Colorado Springs and will be trained in nine detection areas for narcotics, as a patrol dog for officer safety, a tracking dog which will include article tracking as well as human tracking. The overall cost of the animal and training is $10,000 and approximately $3,000 has already been raised. It is expected Dan Hyatt will be writing a letter on behalf of the city to the bi-county health departments, regarding the city’s position that a fee schedule for inspections, and annual fees to the health department from businesses regarding marijuana outlets, is not supported by current state legislation and that the proposal is an overreach of the health department’s authority.