Public concerned over potential use for marijuana sales
by Jonathan James
LA VETA — A standing room crowd was on hand early for a public hearing before the regular La Veta Town Board meeting. The purpose of the hearing was to hear a request from Grandote Golf and Country Club owner Dr. Charles Briggs for a commercial redevelopment permit for the building at 1 Grandote Drive, at the entrance to the golf course. The large turnout was likely due to the expectation that Briggs wants to use the building for the sale of recreational or medical marijuana.
Briggs, however, stated the building was “never properly zoned,” that this action was “simply a matter of housekeeping,” and that “I don’t know the future of the building. I’m hoping to sell it someday.” As Mayor Doug Brgoch explained, the golf course property was originally all within county jurisdiction, and the building was zoned commercial by the county. He said portions of the golf course were annexed by La Veta, including the building, which remained zoned for commercial use, originally as a real estate business. He said the property continues to have a “use by right,” meaning that it can be used for a variety of uses identified by code, including possible use as a marijuana outlet, which would require the applicant successfully going through a “host of hoops.”
The board then received comments and questions from the public, which ranged from wanting various terms defined, concerns about access, parking, and water drainage from the property, and if the intended use is for marijuana sales.
Brgoch explained the original application had “all the boxes (for different potential uses) checked,” but a re-application (after needed corrections) had only the box related to marijuana use checked. Dr. Briggs said that he “feels that we did” check all the boxes. Town clerk Laurie Erwin stated this application is about a “change of use from real estate,” or as it is titled, a “redevelopment” application. Brgoch also noted seven letters were received from the public, all in opposition to the redevelopment application.
That ended the hearing portion of the meeting, and the application was subsequently addressed in the regular meeting. Though members of the board raised numerous concerns, Mayor Brgoch said “use by right” already exists for any number of uses (and is therefore not up for debate), but the board could address issues of access in a motion. Trustee Shane Clouse then moved to approve the application, with the stipulation that it require an alternative access off of highway 12. The motion was seconded by trustee Tim Tady, and after further discussion approved by a 4-3 vote. Those opposed included trustees Dale Davis, Connie Grimm, and Mickey Schmidt, who explained his opposition as “procedural” meaning that the applicant already has what they are applying for (use of a commercial property for marijuana dispensation), and board action is “premature.”
Huerfano County Economic Development wants to partner with LVTB for housing assessment and broadband
A full agenda still remained. Lola Spradley, representing Huerfano County Economic Development, spoke to the board with an invitation to “partner” in a project to improve the county economy. She said that they want to contract for a housing assessment for the county, with a first step being to obtain a DOLA (Colorado Department of Local Affairs) grant with which to engage a contractor for the assessment. She explained the assesment would be useful in attracting investors in a possible “industrial park” north of Walsenburg. She invited La Veta to partner by committing between $1,500 – $3,000 for a requirement of matching funds. Mayor Brgoch said that because of the town’s “austere” budget the board would need time to consider it. Asked how soon she needed to know, Spradley answered “yesterday.”
Spradley then described the second project is to provide access broadband to anyone south of highway 160 (through buried fiber). She said there would be a grant application to demonstrate “need,” and show public support. She provided a “letter of support” for the town to review and decide on.
In other business: events permits, animal control and town cleanup
Two requests for “special events” permits were then presented. First, Cynamin VanLue of the Spanish Peaks Music Festival requested a special events permit (malt, vinous, and spiritous liquor) for events on July 6th and 7th, to be held in La Veta. The application was unanimously approved, pending some needed corrections in the application, and a verification of insurance coverage. Next, an application from the Francisco Center for the Performing Arts was presented for a special events permit (malt, vinous, and spiritous liquor) for social events to be held on June 2nd, July 5th, 6th, and 8th, and July 13th – 15th. It was also approved by the board unanimously, pending proof of necessary insurance.
Brgoch explained the town has been drafting a proposed animal control ordinance (Title 6). The board accepted the draft, and a public hearing will be set for 6:30 on July 3. Town “cleanup” will be held on June 2 from 10 am to 3 pm. The burn pile will be open to the public at the town lakes, and two dumpsters will be available in town for non-hazardous materials. A paper shredding service, and a trailer for approved hazardous materials (for a fee), will also be available.
Greg Colter was approved for vacation time August 16 – 22. David Steffen and George Parker were both approved unanimously to be hired as part-time employees at Francisco Fort Museum.
Finally, Schmidt made a statement to raise public awareness of the town’s water situation.