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Moratorium on pot shops tabled until special meeting

 Trinidad City Council delays decision on pot licensing until Sept. 4

TRINIDAD — The Trinidad City Council found itself facing an active group of business leaders who voiced their opposition to the city’s proposed 90 day moratorium on marijuana sales. In an effort to further understand what the effects of a moratorium would be, the council delayed a second reading on an ordinance that would stop the issuance of conditional use permits (CUP) and licensing of the business. Shawn Sheridan, a real estate developer, first brought up the idea of a moratorium on the issuance of CUPs during the Aug. 4, regular City Council meeting. A CUP would allow buildings to be converted into businesses such as dispensaries and recreational marijuana shops. “I am looking for a way to ease up on the work load the city’s planning committee has for conditional use permits for marijuana businesses. I am not asking for a moratorium on licensing. That process is still flowing well,” Sheridan said after the Aug. 4, meeting. The city imposed an emergency moratorium by a 7-0 vote during the Aug. 18th regular meeting. The emergency moratorium on both CUPs and licensing were passed by the council, and are good for 30

days. The city then had to make a regular ordinance that will be active for 90 days. The first reading of a 90 day moratorium ordinance was passed on a 7-0 vote during the same meeting. “I’m against the instantaneous CUP moratorium. I think the CUP moratorium is important because it’s clear that the planning department … is overwhelmed. The moratorium is fair. It’s reasonable. It needs to be short but I don’t like the way it was approached. I am against a moratorium on the licensing. It’s premature. I don’t have a sense that the licensing authority is overwhelmed. I think the public should be involved with that. It’s clear the public is interested,” said Sheridan on Aug. 18. The opposition to a moratorium flexed its muscle during the Sept. 1, regular council meeting during a public hearing on the ordinance that would establish a moratorium, if it passed a second reading. Twenty business leaders and an attorney, either physically approached the council or made their opinions known through letters, voiced their opposition to the moratorium. With several million dollars already invested in real estate deals and/or building modifications, the council backed up and punted, delaying any action until a special meeting could be held on Friday, Sept. 4, at 5:30 pm, in the Trinidad City Council chambers. One of the driving arguments during the hearing was the issue of a short time frame on generating meaningful profits for businesses and taxes for the city. Some business leaders feel the business has about 10 years to 15 years before legalization in surrounding states impacts Colorado’s pot profits and taxes. In other business the city council elected three new members to fill vacancies on the planning committee, Wayne Prichard, David Fabec, and Elizabeth Aragon. On a 7-0 vote the council approved an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the county, allowing both entities to share services for building inspection. The agreement had been going back and forth between each government as language and other details were worked out. The city went into executive session at about 9:10 pm and adjourned after the session with no decisions being made.