Littleton City Council Meeting Minutes – 3 November 2009

Citizen Minutes – Note Emergency Ordinance on Medical Marijuana
Regular Meeting of City Council
City of Littleton, Colorado
7:00 p.m. Tuesday
Littleton Center November 3, 2009

1. Roll Call
2. Pledge of Allegiance
3. Agenda
4. Minutes
a) Minutes of Special Meeting October 13, 2009
b) Minutes of Regular Meeting October 20, 2009
5. Introduce New City Employees
6. Citizens Appearances
a) Guest Citizens – Novus Biologicals – This Littleton business has been named as one of the Companies to Watch in Colorado. They are located at 8100 Southpark Way and have been in business since 1996. “Novus Biologicals partners with leading scientific researchers and third-party providers to offer the biological research community a portfolio of more than 70,000 products including antibodies, controls, kits and other proteomics reagents.”

b) Scheduled public appearances.

c) Unscheduled public appearances – Carol Brzeczek asked the Council to explain exactly what “an emergency ordinance” is since there was one scheduled for action later in the agenda. She also said she did not know where she stood on the issue of medical marijuana dispensers in Littleton and hoped that during the course of their discussion they would talk about the zoning parameters for such a shop. Just prior to the meeting on the TV news it was reported that there were less than two thousand marijuana patients in Colorado and today there are over thirteen thousand which means, according to the report, that there are doctors prescribing marijuana for their patients that don’t much care about their patients and that is what you call a drug dealer. The Attny General, John Suthers, said that there are “ambiguities of the law that has lead to too many gaming the system.” The reporter said there are two standards – one from the Court of Appeals and one from the Board of Health and established businesses could be in some legal jeopardy. So she was asking for a thorough discussion on the emergency ordinance so the public would have a better understanding of what we are facing in Littleton.

She also thanked John Ostermiller and Tom Mulvey for their years of service on the Council. She recognized that it was a significant commitment and wished them well on future endeavors

Doug Clark responded to the impact of an emergency ordinance. There would be no public hearing and would go into effect immediately for 90 days. A majority plus one was needed in votes to pass.

Lauren Davis, an attorney representing Green Mountain Care (a medical marijuana dispensary), urged the Council not to pass the moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in Littleton. Patients have a right to grow and get marijuana. She said there were 600 new marijuana patients a day and the medical marijuana stores can be regulated without a moratorium.

Howard ?, owner of a Green Mountain Care dispensary, said the owners of medical marijuana stores all believe in upholding the laws and to provide a medicinal source of marijuana for patients. He volunteered to help the Council in dealing with the medical marijuana stores and believed that they needed to be regulated to a degree. He asked them to come and see how they work.

Jerry Hill, who lives in Geneva Village directly across the street from a medical marijuana store, said his front door was within 50 yards of a medical Marijuana store and he has never left his pharmacy “high-fiving” a friend waiting out on the street for him. Yet, that is what he is witnessing from his residence.

7. Consent Agenda Items

a) Resolution approving the 2010 Fire Permit Plan Review Enterprise Budget – Passed 7/0.

b) Resolution approving the 2010 Emergency Medical Transportation Enterprise Budget – Passed 7/0

c) Resolution approving the 2010 Sewer Utility Enterprise Budget – Passed 7/0.

d) Ordinance on first reading amending 2009 budget – Passed 7/0.

e) Resolution approving an agreement with Arapahoe County Street Improvements on Rio Grande – Passed 7/0

f) Ordinance on First reading authorizing Granting an Easement to Public Service Company of Colorado For Utilities at the War Memorial Rose Garden – Passed 7/0.

8. Second and Final Reading on Ordinances and Public Hearings

a) Ordinance regarding 2010 Annual Appropriation and 2009 Mill Levy Ordinance – Passed 7/0.

b) Ordinance Approving the Kensington-Cobblestone PD Plan Amendment No. 1 – A resident living behind the church was concerned about the landscaping and trash enclosures. Jan Dickinson said all trash would be required to be enclosed and the landscaping and parking plans would be addressed in the site development planning process and suggested that the neighbors come in and talk with her prior to that process. A representative of the church said they appreciate the neighbors concerns and want to create a church that will keep up the value of the neighborhood. Debbie Brinkman moved to approve the Ordinance and Ostermiller seconded. Passed 7/0.

9. General Business

a) Letter supporting Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health for CDBG funding to Arapahoe County – Brinkman moved and Peggy Cole seconded and motion passed 7/0.

b) City Council report on City Manager Evaluation – Doug Clark informed the public that the goals for the City Manager are posted on the City’s web site. He needed to protect the privacy rights of the City Manager but wanted the public to know that the Council had completed the evaluation of Jim Woods and all goals were met. The Council was pleased with Woods’ performance and the level of day-to-day performance. The City Manager asked to maintain his 2009 salary and the Council agreed.

c) An emergency ordinance of the City of Littleton, Colorado, establishing a temporary moratorium on the establishment of new medical marijuana dispensing and growing uses for a period of ninety (90) days – Brinkman asked for this agenda item saying that the regulations for medical marijuana are not what is being discussed tonight but she thought the 90 days would give the Council time to research how other municipalities are dealing with the medical marijuana shops and the zoning codes, etc. She asked for an emergency ordinance rather than a first hearing not to exclude the public’s comments but to stop the process so Council could take look at the matter. There are 5 dispensaries approved for Littleton and 3 others have pulled their paperwork. We have 2 Starbucks in our 13.5 square miles and we are well served by 2 Starbucks. Why do we need 8 medical marijuana dispensaries? Boulder has 9, Glenwood has 1 with 6 pending, Arvada has approved one and has since decided it is not an allowed use and will not honor more, Aurora will follow the federal law that marijuana is illegal, Centennial has not had an application but if so it would be denied, Erie’s Council has asked staff to hold off until they get it figured out, Greeley will also follow the federal law, and Parker has determined them to be a public nuisance and therefore not allowable. Things are happening very fast. Colorado is one of 14 states that have legalized marijuana and second behind California in dispensing and growing facilities.

Brinkman is concerned with surrounding municipalities limiting or disallowing medical marijuana shops Littleton may experience a real surge and we need to learn how to handle this new business. It is not to keep them out of Littleton. If this weren’t an emergency ordinance the industry would be alerted that a moratorium was coming and Littleton will have an influx of permit requests. Brinkman moved the motion and Ostermiller seconded.

Jim Woods, for clarification said that as of that day there were 5 approved and 9 had their zoning and sales tax permits approved but at that moment only 1 was open with another one opening next week.

Ostermiller asked what they were classified as and Woods said a pharmacy – a medical dispensary.

Cole asked if the zoning regulations were changed what would happen to the approved business….would they have to vacate. Suzanne Staiert said they would be considered a legal non-conforming use.

Clark thought it was two questions – do we want an emergency ordinance or do we want a moratorium? Medical marijuana was approved by the voters in 2000 and the Department of Health made the decision to make it a profitable business in July. We have had since 2000 to do something about this. The Charter says that’s why we do business the way we do – it needs to be an exceptional circumstance to change the process and I don’t see exceptional circumstances. If Council wants a moratorium we can pass it on a first reading tonight.

Mulvey agreed that it was not an emergency and he would not support the motion.

Ostermiller said the Charter spells out Emergency Ordinances – we are here to protect the health and safety of our citizens. There were 5 last week and 9 today – do we want to be the mental health marijuana capitol of Colorado? The revenues are up to $40,000 per week – we have no regulations and to call it a pharmacy is lackadaisical. There is no connection in dispensing marijuana and a pharmacy – that’s why most cities are taxing it. We owe it to our citizens to take our time to develop sensible regulations. It is very important to do something about this now before it gets out of control. In the mid 70’s we had full massage parlors because we declined to regulate them and it took the city a long time to clean it up. It is irresponsible to allow more before we regulate them. They could be next to schools, across the street from schools and probably in our schools with our current zoning.

Jim Taylor said the emergency ordinance doesn’t affect the current dispensaries operating – it only stops new ones from opening for 90 days and give us an opportunity to establish criteria, rules and regulations with citizen input. Motion passed 5/2 with Clark and Mulvey dissenting.

10. Consideration of Committee, Commission and Board Matters

a) Discussion re: Board and Commission notice of vacancies – City Clerk, Wendy Hefner, asked Council how they would like the vacancies for the different Boards and Commissions to be organized.

11. Ordinances on First Reading

12. Resolutions

13. Comments / Reports

a) City Manager – Charlie Blosten presented examples of new street signs for the two high schools in the City. Chris Harguth was responsible for the design work which was very nice. Blosten said the new signs will be installed with an ultra strong-vandal proof system. However, he did not profess to be smarter than the average high-schooler that might want the sign. New signs for the Library and Museum are coming.

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