In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor.The big agenda items on Monday (July 18) night’s Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting were the public hearings for the local license applications of three (The Bud Depot, Lucky Farms, and Lyons
Finest Confidential Care) of the four medical marijuana centers located within the town of Lyons. Throughout most of the past public meetings for this contentious issue, nearly all of the Board (Trustee Ed Bruder was the exception) and for that matter, much of the public made it known that four medical marijuana centers in a town of Lyons’ size was perhaps too many, and that two was deemed the number they would like to see it reduced to. The idea being, if one or two went out of business, or were deemed out of compliance with state or local regulations, the number would go down to two, and no new licenses would be issued. The evening’s proceedings were the first time any of the current proprietors were required to come before the local licensing authority.
First up, was Read Spear, owner of The Bud Depot (138 Main Street, in the Lyons Village Central Plaza). Administrator Victoria Simonsen informed the Trustees that Mr. Spear had been “approved by the state, at all levels, and was looking for approval by the local authority.” It was determined that he had been finger printed and had a background check, submitted a floor plan of his location, and was up to date with his sales tax payments. After a few questions by Bruder, about security cameras, limited access rooms, floor plans, safe rooms, etc., and an impassioned speech by former Trustee Peter Baumgartner where he implored the Board, “Don’t just say you’re business friendly, act business friendly!,” the Trustees approved the application in a six to one vote. Trustee LaVern Johnson dissented saying, “I’m an old hardhead, and I’m going to continue to vote no for the kids.”
Shawn Welch, who owns Lucky Farms, in addition to license approval, was also looking for the Board’s approval to relocate from his former location (1040 5th Avenue, in the Lyons Excavation building) to 138 Main Street (right next door to The Bud Depot). This request met with Town Staff approval, although a “chicken or the egg” discussion broke out, when it was discovered that Mr. Welch had not yet submitted the required paperwork to the state, saying that the state authorities wanted local approval of the relocation before they would sign off on the process. It was also learned that the lease for the space had also not yet been signed, citing the same reasons. There were again many similar questions from Bruder, and a discussion about the sharing of bathroom facilities with The Bud Depot. None of this was deemed to be a red flag, no one from the public spoke against the proposal, and an approval was granted in a six to one vote; Johnson was again the lone dissenter.
The final license approval was for Daniel Yim, the new owner (Dan Ballard was the former owner) of Lyons Finest Confidential Care (1071 Ute Highway, at the bottom of Stone Canyon). Mr. Yim, a Denver businessman, was also seeking permission to transfer the license (another chicken or the egg discussion ensued). According to Simonsen, the state indicated they had received the required thirty-day notice of the impending sale, but since the local ordinance had not yet come into effect, Mr. Ballard hadn’t felt the need to give the Town proper notice. Mr. Yim asked that his lawyer, a Mr. John Goutell, or his manager Cory Hodnefield, answer any of the Board’s questions. And there were many. Goutell asked that the Town to “Give Mr. Yim a chance to prove that he can be a good neighbor. Don’t judge Mr. Yim on what Mr. Ballard was doing.” He cited the willingness to voluntarily “cease and desist” business operations when it was learned that there were issues with the transfer of said license. Hodnefield also noted that he had personally removed certain signage, which the neighbors had found particularly offensive. Many more questions were asked, this time about a bathroom, and the hook-up to sewer, and from Mayor Julie Van Domelen, pointed questions about the “smell” emanating from the establishment. She stated that she could smell marijuana from across the street when she was pumping gas in her car at U-Pump-It, and when she would work out at Cross Fit, a gym also located across the street. She also voiced concerns that Mr. Yim was conducting an illegal grow operation on the premises (grow operations are not allowed in commercial zones under the new ordinance). Goutell essentially admitted on the record, in a public meeting, that yes, there were indeed plants growing in the facility. His only excuse was that they were there when the sale of the center went through, and neither he, Hodnefield, nor Yim were aware that they weren’t allowed. He also stated that his client would be more than happy to move the plants elsewhere.
This time there were a few dissenting voices from the public; Cassi Rosecranz, Stephanie Kurland, and Lynn Johanson, all residents in the nearby Stone Canyon sub division, spoke against the approval or transfer of the license, and emphatically asked the Trustees not to do so. Trustee Kathy Carroll said she was inclined not to vote in favor, but could be swayed if the new owners showed good faith and contacted the neighbors to listen to their complaints and fears, and took measures to alleviate them. Van Domelen piped up that she had always had misgivings about the transferring of licenses, saying “it was giving value to a business that may have proved to be otherwise not viable.” She equated it with taxi medallions in New York City (which are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, because only a finite number are issued by the city).
Any building opposition to approval of the license and transfer seemed to lose steam when Town Attorney Tim Cox cautioned that after approving the previous two applications, when issues still needed to be ironed out, and then saying no to this application might be construed as “arbitrary.” Van Domelen weakly made the argument that this was different from the others, since no complaints had been received against the first two establishments, and although the proper paperwork was still pending, they weren’t out of compliance with the local ordinance (smell and grow operation). This didn’t gain much traction among the Trustees, and the motion to approve and second were withdrawn, and instead, the issue was tabled until the August 1 BOT meeting in order to give Mr. Yim an opportunity to come into compliance, and hold discussions with his disgruntled neighbors (yeah right, let me know how that one turns out!).
Sgt. Kevin Parker asked that the tubing ban for the Town of Lyons be lifted; effective Wednesday, July 20, and the BOT made it so. The consent agenda, consisting of the June 6 BOT meeting minutes and the May 2011 Clerk & Treasurer’s Report and Financials, was approved without much fanfare. Likewise, the proposed purchase of a new dump truck (not to exceed $35,000) at auction later this month was approved. An amendment to the Whipp annexation (to waive the two-year requirement for hook up to town water) was formally adopted. Finally, a discussion about the downtown-parking situation ensued. The Town recently began issuing parking tickets on weekends for violators of the two-hour parking limit on Main Street between Third and Fifth Avenues, the one-hour limit on Railroad Avenue between Third and Fourth Avenues (south side of Sandstone Park), and the paid parking in Bohn and Meadow Parks. Bruder indicated that the local seniors were worried about getting tickets when they attend functions at the Walt Self Senior Center, and that employees of Oskar Blues, who have been parking there for years, were ticketed. After much discussion, it was decided to get rid of the one-hour parking limits on Railroad, but enact “short-term parking” near the visitor’s center at the end of the block.
As the hour was now quickly approaching 10:30 p.m., and the Board and Staff had been there since 5:30 p.m., Van Domelen asked that the Trustees and Staff give their reports via email. The meeting was then adjourned.