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La Veta sets moratorium on cannabis

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA — Before its meeting on August 20, the La Veta Town Board held a lively public hearing on marijuana. At the end of the hearing La Veta’s Municipal Judge Jytte Hale-Helps weighed in by listing a plethora of medical uses for cannabis. She said, “Over 3,000 papers have been published, just in the past ten years, on the medical properties of this plant.” She characterized it as safer than opiates for pain control. “There is a significant shift taking place within the scientific community and the medical community,” she added.
The board considered proposed Ordinance 272, regarding retail establishments that sell cannabis. By state statute, municipalities have about two months to enact such an ordinance or set a moratorium. The trustees debated three versions of the ordinance, but, as Trustee Dale Davis noted, they seemed to skirt around the possibility of a total ban. Trustee Bill Stark said, “I believe the moratorium is the more prudent answer for the trustees to make.” Trustee Dave Molyneaux told the board, “We have to have this done by October 1. We have two more meetings before then. I am in favor of buying some time.” The board clarified that this ordinance would not affect private growers or medical marijuana users. Town clerk Laurie Erwin cautioned that if the board chooses to wait, it would have to be an emergency ordinance, since there would not be enough time for public notice. Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald said, “There’s so much we don’t know. That’s why I personally think we should start a series of discussions about what we want to do.” He pointed out that 60% of the La Veta precinct voted in favor of Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution last November, which addresses personal use and regulation of marijuana for adults. Local regulations would need to involve recreational use, cultivation, manufacturing, testing and operation of retail stores. The board voted unanimously to enact a six-month moratorium on the ordinance. During this time, the board indicated it will gather information on what would be “in the best interest of public health and safety.” Trustee Shane Clouse said the Board will have a plan in place for either prohibition or regulation of retail marijuana before the moratorium expires on March 31, 2014.
After the meeting, one La Veta resident told HWJ the town board did the smart thing. “Let the big cities make the mistakes first and get sued,” he said. “We don’t have the money to fight lawsuits.”
Trustee Stark reported that the Historic Preservation Committee and the United Methodist Church board of trustees have reached an agreement on what will be done with the windows in the church’s parsonage. As it turns out, the decorative upper portions of the two historic windows the HPC wants to see preserved are separate units from the plain glass sections below. The agreement is that the upper portion of each of those windows should be renovated and maintained. The lower portions will be replaced with thermal pane, vinyl-clad windows. The other seven windows that are scheduled to be replaced will match the vinyl-clads. According to Stark, the church board has been advised to proceed with the window replacement. Davis reported that Rod Plinske, chair of the church board, wanted to be sure Bob Martin is thanked for his input during the negotiations.
On behalf of Circle the Wagons RV Park, J. Patterson requested signs on West 1st and 2nd Streets that say there is no through traffic. The situation will be handled by the Streets & Alleys Committee. The Committee will also consider replacing two stop signs at the intersection of Poplar and Virginia.
After Mayor Fitzgerald read Ordinance 271 into the record, the board voted unanimously to pass it, thus establishing a Sewer Enterprise Fund.