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City grants first marijuana license in Walsenburg

WALSENBURG — It was an historic, if low key moment, when the Walsenburg City Council, sitting as the city’s marijuana licensing authority, voted 6-1 to approve and grant a recreational marijuana retail and cultivation license to Bud Hut following a public hearing Tuesday night. City attorney Dan Hyatt led the licensing authority through the proceedings, explaining the quasi-judicial nature of the public hearing and reading into the record the list of evidentiary items prepared by the applicants. Five people, William and Marsha Boeck, Debi and Karl Sporleder, and Rusty Loflin, who are in opposition to recreational pot sales, asked questions to clarify safety and sales issues. No one presented any evidence finding fault with the application or documentation presented by Barbara Johnson and Jim Hillaker. City council members Craig Lessar and John Salazar, both current law enforcement sergeants with the sheriff’s office and city police department respectively, voted in favor of granting the license. Lessar said, while he had consistently voted against retail marijuana and related issues, the public hearing vote came down to whether or not the applicants had met all the necessary criteria for licensure. He said, putting emotion aside, they had. Silvana Lind was the only council member voting against granting the license. Hillaker and Johnson were the only people who presented evidence and testimony in favor of their application. The Bud Hut owners are now awaiting approval of their state retail and cultivation license application. In other business, the city council sat as the Northlands General Improvement District Board of Directors and approved a contract between the GID and Community Resource Services of Greenwood Village, CO, for consulting services, and establishing the PIF (Public Improvement Fee) that will be

collected from Northlands businesses (where city sales tax is applicable) to offset the cost of the project. The board passed Resolution 2015-R-02, 5 to 0, with Lessar commenting he was voting in favor only with the assurance the financial outlay for the contract ($10,800) will be paid back to the city once the fee begins to be collected later this summer. City Administrator David Johnston said he doesn’t expect much of an ongoing financial obligation to the consultants once the PIF collection system has been set up. The city council passed Ordinance 1060 on second reading. The ordinance amends the city’s medical marijuana ordinance (1020) and establishes location restrictions and distances between retail marijuana businesses, residences, child care facilities, schools and alcohol treatment facilities. New surcharge The city council approved Ordinance 1063 on first reading which will add a 25¢ surcharge on city issued tickets to pay for the cost of Walsenburg’s new police dog, Magnum. The ordinance passed 6-0 with Salazar abstaining from the vote as he will be the dog’s handler. In association with the ordinance, the city council also passed Resolution 2015-R-13, which authorizes the city to purchase the dog with intergovernmental funds from the Internal Services Fund. The fund will be paid back through the surcharge. The resolution passed 6-0 with Salazar again abstaining from the vote. Those votes also allowed the city to move forward with the agreement with Johnsons K9, the current owner and trainer of Magnum. The $4,000 raised through individual and business donations in the city will be used as a down payment for the new police dog. In other police department related news, the city council in a voice vote approved the Walsenburg Police Department to continue working towards setting up a Law Enforcement Explorers Post with the Boy Scouts of America. Wild Waters The council unanimously approved Resolution 2015-R-12; the new Walsenburg Wild Waters employee handbook. Humane Society The city council unanimously approved Resolution 2015-R-14 that establishes an agreement between Walsenburg and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, that allows transfer of adoptable dogs and puppies who end up in the local shelter and not claimed by their owners, to the HSPPR for better adoption opportunities. The city will receive a stipend for animals accepted into the adoption program. New council member City council unanimously approved Don Lewis as the new city council representative for Ward III. Lewis has attended a few work sessions and council meetings as an observer, and Mayor James Eccher said Lewis often engaged him in conversation and presented ‘good questions’ to him at the bowling alley. Lewis said he has been a resident of Walsenburg for two years and has a background in construction. His appointment will run up to the November 2015 elections.