Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Smokin' hot day for City Council

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Apparently, dealing with Douglas Bruce and scores of angry homeless advocates isn't enough excitement for one day for Colorado Springs City Council.

It also wants to take on the medical marijuana industry.

Last night, City Council directed the city attorney to draft a resolution restricting medical marijuana dispensaries. According to Vice Mayor Larry Small, the resolution is expected to ban dispensaries that are close to schools or residential neighborhoods. Small also expected that the resolution would ban the proliferation of dispensaries, at least in the short term. Small says he doesn't want to shut down existing dispensaries, but he doesn't want more dispensaries popping up until the state Legislature lays down clearer ground rules (laws governing the industry are imminent) and the Springs can put in place its own ordinance.

Council decided to vote on the moratorium because of an outcry from people living near North Academy Boulevard's Old Mission Inn Restaurant, which is being converted into a dispensary.
Small says he was concerned about the new dispensary's closeness to neighborhoods, as well as its lack of adherence to the city's laws and guidelines. But Small said the city couldn't just close the Mission and leave other dispensaries unscathed, because it would be discriminatory. That's why he suggested the resolution.

However, Councilor Tom Gallagher notes that a citizens group created by Council put months into crafting an ordinance that would control dispensaries within the city limits while allowing them to exist. That ordinance was recently presented to Council, with plans to conduct a further public process before approval or rejection.

Gallagher says that thoughtful public process is being usurped. And he's not happy about it.

“In the matter of half a day, we can craft an ordinance?” he says.

“This is politics," he adds derisively. "This allows us to be seen doing something, even when it's the wrong thing.”

If passed, the resolution would go into effect immediately.

Meanwhile, Council will also be considering its second reading of the no-camping ordinances, which will make illegal the homeless Tent City that has sprung up along creekbeds. That is expected to pass.

Council will also be looking at an ordinance that would codify Issue 300 — the Douglas Bruce-authored measure that was aimed at ending the Stormwater Enterprise and Colorado Springs Utilities' annual payments to the city. The City Attorney has said that Issue 300 actually contradicts itself and the City Charter. Under the attorney's new version, 300's effects would be mild, and CSU's payments to the city would not cease.

Bruce is expected to argue against the interpretation.

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