Littleton City Council Meeting Dec. 8, 2009 – Citizen Minutes

 Citizen Minutes

Special Meeting

Littleton City Council

Tuesday December 8, 2009

7:00 p.m.

1. Study Session Topics

a) 7:00 p.m. Discussion of regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries

 City Attorney, Suzanne Staiert, had prepared a draft ordinance dealing with medical marijuana for the Council to work from.  It is a 14 page document and one version crated a ban on medical marijuana.  Peggy Cole submitted another copy of Staiert’s work that included her editorial changes and additional thinking. 

 Staiert told the Council that the State is working on clarification that is considered “a matter of state wide concern” and if what the State does is not compatible with what they do they can make changes at the appropriate time. 

Bruce Stahlman moved to adopt the draft of the ordinance that would ban medical marijuana in Littleton; Debbie Brinkman seconded the motion. 

Jim Taylor moved to recess for 10 minutes as they had just received the ordinance Stahlman moved and he wanted time to read it before discussing.  Recess was granted

Stahlman said everything is in a state of flux.  We have 4 operating dispensaries in Littleton and that meets the needs of the community with reasonably efficiency.  It will be a nuisance to have them popping up all over town. 

Taylor asked Staiert if they could extend the 90 day moratorium until the State completes their process.   Staiert said they could but not through an emergency ordinance. 

Taylor said he preferred not to pass anything that they would have to come back and change.  He would rather see a limit placed on the number of dispensaries rather than ban them completely. 

Cole asked if a ban was passed and an existing dispensary went out of business would someone else be able to operate the business.  Staiert said no.  Cole said she would not support the ban – she feels an obligation to make medical marijuana available to people. 

Brinkman said she did not think they were under serving Littleton – in fact it was extreme over service to have nine.  Nine dispensaries are excessive for the community and excessive to monitor and cover with law enforcement.  There’s an additional concern about commercial real estate.  According to the Denver Business Journal existing tenants have great concern because of the negative impact on their business when a dispensary is located close by.   There are shared expenses, more crime and security issues.  A dispensary’s location impacts all the businesses around it. 

Stahlman asked Taylor if he was suggesting they focus on a proximity measure to limit where dispensaries could locate which will limit the number we have in Littleton.  We could set the bar high enough to maintain the quality of life in Littleton and relax the standards down the road if necessary. 

Chief Coogan told the Council that the police had reviewed the document prepared by Staiert and were in agreement with it. 

Phil Cernanec asked if a dispensary could close in one location and open in another.  Staiert said no, as soon as they vacate the property they will lose their non-conforming use zoning. 

Doug Clark said he would not support the motion as he felt they needed to establish criteria for the need in Littleton.  If the Council were to ban dispensaries in Littleton they would be going against the voters in Littleton.  They needed to comply with Amendment 20 that was passed by the voters.  

Motion failed 2/5 with Brinkman and Stahlman the only two in support

The Council then began reviewing the document provided by Staiert and going page by page to make changes.  It was an edit by committee –voting on each word change.  I am not including the tedious changes but I thought was most important. 

Stahlman asked Jim Woods how is medical marijuana different than the Liquor Authority – wasn’t the approval for liquor licenses taken out of the City Council because it was burdensome?  Taylor said there will never be as many medical marijuana licenses as there are liquor licenses if the prohibitions prevail.  Taylor thought the Council should be the body to approve or deny medical marijuana dispensaries since they were the elected body. 

Staiert said she had spoken with Tony Gallagher, Chair of the Liquor Authority, and asked if he thought they could take this on which would leave the City Council available for any appeals. 

Phil Cortese thought the appeals process was a good reason to leave the decision to the Liquor Authority. 

Clark said he would not support the Council being the approval body – we do not have enough experience with these matters and the Liquor Authority does.  Motion failed 2/5 with Cole and Taylor the only two in favor.  

Clark said he wanted to limit the marijuana sold to the marijuana grown on the premises and patients could only grow for their own use.  Staiert clarified that if a caregiver had 100 patients they could have 600 plants.  The conversation continued on to discuss what percentage of the floor space of a dispensary could be used for growing and the definition of a grow facility.  The conversation lead to a motion, by Clark, on limiting the growth of marijuana plants who shortly there after withdrew his motion. 

At this point in time they were on page 3 of 14 and 1 ½ hours into their meeting.  The discussion will resume at another meeting.  Clark said he was not comfortable with the editorial changes being made to staff’s work and Staiert could look at Cole’s suggestions and either accept or reject them. 

b) 8:00 p.m. GOCO Projects for South Platte Park  

South Suburban presented a list of projects that they intend to embark and the source of the funding.  Since the parks belong to Littleton they need the approval of Council to begin their work.  The Council can decide if they want to contribute to the projects which would leave money available for other projects. 

Brinkman took issue with the picnic shelter outside Hudson Gardens.  Brinkman also thought money designated to pave the road from Platte Canyon to the river where people can get to the dog park would be better spent trying to do something to make the confluence of the trail and users under C470 (going to the dog park) more safe.  Right now there are two blind curves which makes for a dangerous situation when you have dog walkers, roller bladders, bicyclists, joggers, fishermen and other water users all on the same path – that area needs improvement.  Dave Lorenz, South Suburban, said they were not trying to increase the usage of the area by paving the road but increase the number of days it is open since the road gets closed when there is enough wet weather.  In fact there may be fewer parking spaces as a result of the paving. 

Brinkman moved to remove the C-470 access road and parking lot from the project list.  Cole seconded. 

Cole move to table the discussion until more discussion takes place.  There was no second

Stahlman asked Lorenz what would happen to the money if the project was pulled.  Lorenz said they would go back to the funding sources for approval on another project or projects. 

Brinkman’s motion failed 1/6 with Brinkman the only one in favor. 

Stahlman then asked if the projects are approved would the improvements have an impact on the operational costs of the parks.  Woods said there would be an increase and the costs are divided up 50-50 between the City and South Suburban.  Dave Lorenz thought the increases would be nominal. 

Brinkman said everyone adored that park and it is difficult to predict the impact – no doubt increased use will lead to increased costs.  There aren’t enough Rangers in the park now and the improvements to enhance the experience will bring more visitors. 

Cole asked what the City would spend their money on if they did not contribute to the projects presented.  Charlie Blosten said they are still negotiating the Ensor property and the second parcel of the Murray property and there is still money that needs to be spent on Lee’s Gulch.  Woods said they did not have specific identified uses for the Open Space money. 

Blosten said there are a couple of other projects down the line but it is premature to plan at this time. 

Woods said the most important decision they needed to make now was to approve the projects – not if and how much money they wanted to contribute to the projects.  The funding decision could be deferred. 

Cernanec moved to approve the projects and Taylor seconded the motion which passed 7/0. 

c) 9:00 p.m. IGA with CDOT Regarding Segments of Bowles Avenue & Broadway – I did not stay for this discussion 

d)  A discussion on the questions to be used in the evaluation of Judge Kimmel was added to the agenda.

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