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Council takes no action on marijuana plant limits

WALSENBURG — After a lengthy finance work session discussion, the Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night removed proposed Ordinance 1079 from consideration, at least for this week. The ordinance would require residents who grow marijuana at their homes to have the plants inside a wholly enclosed structure. This ordinance has grown from a debate on whether or not the city could limit the number of plants grown at a residence within the city limits. The constitutional amendment passed by state voters allows for six recreational marijuana plants, three in flowering stage, to be grown by any person over the age of 21, and 36 plants per medical marijuana patient (with no more than half in flowering state). The latest version seeks to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community by mandating the ‘out of public view’ growing to help prevent theft and other potential crime. Municipal attorney Dan Hyatt will return with two additional versions of the ordinance for council to consider at their October 20th meeting, which ironically is the date set for the closing of the Martra land purchase with the city. Council attempted to bring Walsenburg Police Chief Tommie McLallen into the discussion, but he told them

simply he was not hired to have an opinion, but to enforce the laws on the books and to protect the citizen’s constitutional rights. “I’m not allowed a personal opinion when it comes to enforcement of the law,” McLallen told the nine members of the council. The complexity of marijuana issues was underscored as the police chief said even the top state marijuana enforcement officials remain confused about the ever-changing laws. In other marijuana news, the council voted 9-0 to approve Ordinance 1078 which eliminates a conflict in zoning ordinances by ending a 3,000 foot distance limit between a marijuana grow operation and a marijuana dispensary. Also passed on first reading was Ordinance 1080 which set a new water rate classification for green houses and warehouses used for the purpose of growing plants and for marijuana cultivation or growth. The new rate will be $22 per thousand gallons in and outside of the city limits. The measure passed on an 8-1 vote with councilman Don Lewis opposed. In other business: • Following a pair of public hearings, council unanimously approved Ordinances 1076 and 1077; 1076 establishing zoning ordinance fees of $200 for a Special Use Permit; $1,500 for a Sub Division Permit, and $3,000 for an Annexation Petition fee (the $500 fee for a Conditional Use Permit was not affected by the new ordinance). Ordinance 1077 allows residential units on any floor above a building’s ground level, provided such units and the building housing the residential unit meets all fire and building codes. • Approved liquor license renewals for Corine’s Mexican Restaurant and Sarti’s Bar; approved a special events liquor permit for the upcoming Spanish Peaks Community Foundation’s Legends of the Spanish Peaks dinner. • Awarded the Winter Pasture bid of $10,058 to Falduto Ranches LLC. • Approved participation in a DOLA grant program that will provide $12,500 for a study of the raw water line. • Approved the $15,904 bid from K.R. Swerdfeger Construction for repairs of two gas line leaks located south of the city. • Approved Resolution 2015 R-26 naming Huerfano County Fire Protection District the emergency response authority for hazardous material incidents that happen within the city limits. As the year begins to fade and elections are looming the city council will soon begin the budget process for next year. The money that will come into the city from the initial Martra payment is designated to the water and sewer department ( as the city ranch was purchased for its water rights), but it is expected council members will debate the use of those funds in the coming weeks.