by Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor.The Lyons Board of Trustees (BOT) held a workshop before their regularly scheduled meeting earlier this week. No surprise, the subject was medical marijuana, and there were at least two-dozen concerned citizens in the audience. What was a little unusual was that it was a Tuesday (Feb. 22) meeting (because of Presidents’ Day), Mayor Julie Van Domelen was present only as a disembodied voice (she was in Washington D.C.) via a “Skype” telephone connection (the fact that the hook-up worked reasonably well was a little unusual too, since often just getting the microphones and recording equipment to work properly is a challenge), and then of course, there was the guy with the video camera filming a multi-part series on medical marijuana for National Geographic Television.
Mayor Pro Tem Kirk Udovich got things started by reading a statement about “conflicts of interest” and then turned it over to Town Attorney Tim Cox to explain the finer points of the subject, and how they might pertain to the night’s discussions. After which, Trustee Ed Bruder announced, with some umbrage, that since this discussion was about him, he wanted everyone to know: his license to run a dispensary in Lyons had expired at the end of December of 2010; he closed his business in Lyons at the end of July of 2010; he is not currently involved in any medical marijuana business anywhere and has no plans to do so in the future, he goes to so many meetings about medical marijuana at the state and county level that his house is now in foreclosure; he has no hidden agenda; and that if anyone has any questions, to contact him, he’s easy to find.
Cox then took the Trustees through the proposed ordinance that he has drafted for the Board’s consideration, touching on all of the usual points of contention. Ban or regulate; if ban, whether or not to grandfather in the existing businesses. If regulation was the desire, distance from schools, density requirements, a cap on the number of centers, signage, appropriate zones, protecting residential neighborhoods, licensing fees, grow operations, mixed use, enforcement, and educational programs were all issues of concern that were discussed. Across the board (no pun intended) signage seemed to be a major issue. Cox continued to remind the Trustees that controlling “the language” of a sign is a tricky “free speech” issue. Udovich reiterated that he felt that decision to ban or not to ban should be put to voters, and Trustee LaVern Johnson agreed. Bruder, still feeling testy, blistered Attorney Cox, stating, “The proposed ordinance as presented is embarrassingly inadequate.” Bruder also wanted to know why the draft ordinance he had spent the weekend crafting was not part of the presentation. Cox explained he had only received it that morning, and hadn’t had time to read it. The workshop had now run 15 minutes over the allotted time, and Udovich announced that the workshop was adjourned, and the meeting would begin at 7:20 p.m.
The BOT meeting started on a far lighter note, with Tony Huerta presenting the Town with the two American Public Works Association awards that the Main Street project had recently been awarded. One for the engineering of a small town project, and the other for project of the year for the State of Colorado. Huerta also suggested the Town submit its project for national project of the year consideration.
Sgt. Kevin Parker, Supervisor for the Lyons Substation had nothing to report, so it was on to the Liquor License Authority. The Board okayed the transfer of Andrea’s liquor license to the Nepal Restaurant, which will be located in the same building.
During audience business, since medical marijuana was not “technically” on the meeting’s agenda, several people (Mickey Lohr –Pastor at the River Church, Mark Roberts – teacher and coach at Lyons High School, Brandon Lohr [from Longmont] – youth counselor, Joycelyn Fankhouser – Investigator for Child Services for Boulder County, and Deb Roberts [from Erie] – Coordinator for “Alternatives For Youth” [a drug and alcohol counseling program in Longmont]) spoke to the Trustees about the statistical and personal antidotal correlation between the increase in medical marijuana dispensaries, and the rise in marijuana related incidences among teens at schools. To a person, they were all staunchly in favor of an outright ban of medical marijuana centers in Lyons.
The consent agenda, consisting of the January financials and the February 7 BOT meeting minutes (with a few tweaks and clarifications) was passed. As was a resolution approving an agreement between the Town and the Lyons Ditch Association for repair and maintenance of the ditch between Park and Evans Streets. Also approved, for one year, was the service contract (between the Town, Boulder County, and the School District) for a Youth Specialist. The Trustees and Staff gave their reports, and it should be noted that the schedule for public hearings for the medical marijuana ordinance has shifted. As it stands now, the PCDC will hold a public hearing about the zoning for medical marijuana centers on March 28, the BOT will hold a first reading for the ordinance on April 4, a public hearing and second reading on April 18 (if the public hearing is as packed and as long as anticipated the second reading with be continued to May 2) and if passed, the ordinance would become effective 30 days later.