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Hotchkiss Commercial Pot Ban in the Works – Big B’s Expansion Approved

June 15th, 2013

Filed under Community, Featured, Hotchkiss, News

By Thomas Wills

Hotchkiss Town Council

June 13, 2013

Present: Mayor Wendell Koontz, Marlin McCracken, Georgia Hopper, Jim Roberts and Dustyn Foster.   Absent: Carrie Wingfield and Lindee Cantrell.

Pot Ban to Be Drafted

            Town Attorney, Jim Briscoe, asked for direction from the council regarding the desired direction regarding recreational marijuana. The Town has many options, Briscoe explained, including allowing and regulating only certain types of recreational marijuana businesses or banning all aspects of the industry.  Those present expressed a preference for the latter.

“I don’t want marijuana in the Town of Hotchkiss,” Trustee Marlin McCracken stated emphatically. This was echoed by Georgia Hopper and Jim Roberts.

Briscoe further explained that there could be some regulation of the right of citizens to grow marijuana in their own homes using the zoning and building codes in regard to public safety. He said that some towns were limiting the total number of plants that could be grown in any one residence regardless of the number of residents. Under the State constitution each person may grow up to six plants for their own use.  Briscoe said that the plants all have to be contained within a building, but other sources say that the constitutional requirement is only that they “be out of public view,” which may be interpreted as being screened by an adequate privacy fence or opaque greenhouse.

Mayor Wendell Koontz expressed concern that the Town may be overreaching by trying to unduly regulate the private constitutional rights of the citizens.

            “Ban what we can and regulate the rest,” Trustee Dustyn Foster said.

It is expected that the marijuana ban may be adopted as early as July or August.  After October 1, if no ban or regulation was in place the State could issue permits for marijuana businesses regardless of the Town’s wishes. Crawford had already enacted a ban and Paonia plans to place the question on the November ballot.

Sidewalks and Trails Plan Ratified

The Trustees unanimously ratified the long-in-progress Hotchkiss Sidewalks and Trails Plan, which is an addition/implementation of the Hotchkiss Community Master Plan. The Plan works in tandem with the recently adopted Hotchkiss Sidewalks Ordinance in clarifying how the Town intends to proceed over the next 10 years on repairing existing sidewalks, build needed new ones, and provide future trails and walking paths.

The plan was adopted by the Planning Commission in May and after the ratification will now be filed with the Delta County Clerk as part of the Town’s Master Plan. The plan includes addressing future trails serving town citizens that would be outside of Town boundaries including the Coal Road and trails along the river that would connect to the Town’s River Park and east to BLM and connect back into the Delta County Fairgrounds.

Big B’s Expansion Approved

The Council approved a variance to the zoning setbacks for the Big B’s juice factory on High Street from 25 feet to 10 feet from the property line or six feet from the proscribed travel surface. The variance will allow the construction of a new 50 by 70 foot building that will contain cold storage facilities. The rest of the property will be cleaned up and a screening fence will be placed around the west end of the parcel.

Big B’s owners, Jeff and Seth Schwartz, have also purchased the land directly to the north, across the railroad, for possible future expansion.  The Town’s Light Industrial zone is the area (to the west of the Hotchkiss K-8 School) owned by the Schwartz’s and Hotchkiss Auto.

Re-Zone Approved

In another zoning related review the Trustees quickly approved a request by Robin Waters to change the zoning of her property at 148 East Main from R-2 to C-2. The property is next to Back Country Goods and across the street from the Memorial Hall, thus having C-2 zoning on two sides. The change allows the property to be used for retail commercial use. The present renters plan to possible open a small antiques business in the front of the home.

Three Dogs Approved

Robert and LaFawn Brown received approval to have an extra dog at their Main Street residence.  The Town’s dog ordinance limits the number of dogs per residence to two unless special permission is obtained from the Town Council. The Brown’s three dogs are fairly small and one is 11 years old and will not be replaced.

The permit was issued on the condition that the dogs do not become a nuisance to the neighbors.  A petition was presented with signatures from most neighbors supporting allowing the extra dog.

Other actions and discussion:

Delta County Oils and Gas Governmental Designee, Bruce Bertram, gave a lengthy presentation on the history and present state of gas drilling within the county. There have been few successful wells within the county with most recent activity being in far northwest and north east edges of the county. Most gas development activity between 2002 and the present were located in Gunnison County in the Muddy country.

The trustees approved a donation of $300 to Hotchkiss Home Plate a blanket organization for the local kids’ summer baseball/softball programs.

A discussion of possible support for the North Fork Alternative Plan was tabled since Sarah Sauter, representing the plan, was not present.

The trustees agreed to allow the staff to finish up details on the Source Water Protection Plan and tweak certain parts. Public Works Director Mike Owens said he would like terrorism to be a higher priority on the list of things that could impact the Towns watershed.

A minor boundary adjustment was approved for Mike McMillan for lots located at 218 and 228 Poplar Way in the Willow Heights subdivision. The properties are being sold and the adjustment will straighten out the property line between the existing home and empty lot.