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Recreational pot ‘up in smoke’ in Walsenburg

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council, on a narrow vote Tuesday night, approved Ordinance 1020, that establishes a local licensing authority and licensing for medical marijuana dispensaries within the city limits.
Mayor Larry Patrick cast the tie breaking vote that approved the ordinance. Voting with the mayor were James Moore, Rick Jennings, Nick Vigil and Cathy Pineda. Voting against the measure were council members Silvana Lind, James Baca, Craig Lessar and Erin Jerant.
Ordinance 1021, prohibiting the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail marijuana stores, passed on a 6-3 vote. Jennings, Moore and Pineda voted against the prohibition of retail recreational marijuana facilities (approved in the Colorado 2012 General Election as Amendment 64 to the state constitution) with Baca, Patrick, Lessar, Lind, Vigil and Jerant supporting the prohibition.
The city council unanimously approved Ordinance 1018, a lengthy item prohibiting open burning within the city limits, except where the city issues a burn permit. Passage of the ordinance was done with the emergency clause, which will allow the ordinance to become effective the day after second reading, if the ordinance passes its second vote. That meeting is set for February 5, 2013.
City council also passed Ordinance 1019 Tuesday night that addresses residential parking concerns when a residence is adjacent to a commercial business and parking space is limited.
In other business, the city council put off making a decision regarding hiring an engineering firm to design the Northlands sewer system. Council members met at length Monday night in committee and discussed the issue, but failed to act Tuesday night. City administrator Dave Johnston was directed by council to contact the four engineering firms who have experience in dealing with USDA/ and DOLA funded or partially funded projects and request detailed scope-of-work, and financial cost and fee breakdowns.
The city council will meet again on Tuesday, January 29 in a special session to possibly select one of those four firms. The companies involved are GMS Inc. of Colorado Springs; JDS Hydro-Consultants of Colorado Springs, TST Inc. of Lone Tree, Colorado and Foothills Engineering of Longmont, Colorado.
The city faces a USDA/Rural Development deadline for the Northlands project a week from today, Thursday, January 31, 2013 and Johnston will seek another extension as much of the informational requirements of the city have still not been met. “Once we get an engineering firm in place we can begin moving forward rapidly,” Johnston said. Johnston said he expects the federal agency to grant the city another 90-extension for the grant/loan process.