County Attorney Mary Deganhart was worried that with public meetings on pot scheduled for June 14 and 28, the county would have little time to craft a resolution before the state’s “drop dead” date, at which point state law would become the rule for Ouray County as well.
There is still a raft of unknowns on the state side of things, Deganhart said. Revisions to the original medical marijuana legislation only passed out of committee on April 1, she said. “And the House hasn’t done anything” yet. So, just what the state will require of local governments, and when, is still somewhat up in the air. All the more reason, Deganhart said, “If you want to ban medical marijuana, either permanently or temporarily, I think you have to have a resolution in place before July 1.”
Discussing the options available to the county is one of the goals of the forum, said Commissioner Heidi Albritton. “We want to educated our public as to what the medical marijuana topic means for our residents, the issues and options as it relates to the county” – that is, separate from the incorporated towns of Ridgway and Ouray, which make their own decisions regarding medical pot.
“We’d like to have someone from the state Department of Revenue attend,” Albritton said. “And possibly some local patients. And the attorney Christian Sederberg, who works with medical marijuana issues. And we’d like to have Mark [County Planner Mark Castrodale] do his staff power point presentation for the public.”
“Do we also need a representative of the medical profession to talk about the pros and cons of marijuana as medicine?” asked Commissioner Lynn Padgett.
The most important thing to communicate, Albritton stressed, is to make clear the various options open to the county. These include: banning medical marijuana outright; banning it for now (until the state has its act together) with the intent to revisit; or develop a permit and revenue collection process to allow one or more of the three types of marijuana businesses (dispensaries, growing operations or manufactured marijuana products).
“This is absolutely not to be a decision-making meeting,” Albritton stressed. “It is to be educational, for us and for the general public. It will not be a bully pulpit for how wonderful or horrible this is. I’m hopeful we can avoid what happened at City of Ouray meetings on this.”
The commissioners agreed to add one more workshop to their schedule, on April 27, to discuss wording for a survey to be passed out following the forum in May. The wording is important, Albritton said, because “it has to be a lot more nuanced than ‘Yes/No – I’m in favor of medical marijuana, or I’m not.’ It has to ask which of the many options available to the county do you favor.”
The educational forum on medical marijuana will be May 11, 6 p.m., at the 4-H Events Center in Ridgway.
PADGETT TO ATTEND D.C. LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE
Ouray County Commissioner Lynn Padgett told the BOCC meeting this week that she had been nominated to attend a prestigious four-day leadership training institute in Washington, D.C., this June.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) announced Padgett’s selection as one of 22 county leaders from across the United States to participate in the eight annual County Leadership Institute, a rigorous four-day program offered in partnership with Cambridge Leadership Associates. Padgett was nominated by Chip Taylor, executive director of Colorado Counties, Inc.
She asked the board’s forgiveness in advance for her absence, and requested help from the county’s training budget to defray a part of the $1,600 fee. She said she would be paying out-of-pocket for her air travel and any meals not included in the program.
The rest of the BOCC agreed on the value of such training and to help with the funding.
BOTTOM-UP MEETINGS CRAFT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Following three weekly meetings in March, an ad hoc group of Ouray County citizens and business leaders came up with the requisite five goals to be submitted next month to Governor John Hickenlooper’s Bottom-Up economic development planning effort.
Commissioner Lynn Padgett reported to the BOCC that the goals are: 1. Diversify the economy; 2. Create a countywide “creative district”; 3. Form an economic development corporation; 4. Link up with Silverton-based Operation Link-up to bring fiber optic broadband to the region; and 5. Expand tourism opportunities.
Padgett conveyed the doubts some committee members felt that “the governor really will be able to help us do these things.” But, she reported, “there was a sense that we really have to be in charge of our own destiny.” And to that end, “the group wants to meet again and break out into sub-committees to pursue each of these individual goals. Especially the idea of an economic development corporation” to attract business to the area.
RANCH HISTORY MUSEUM GETS SPECIAL USE PERMIT
The Colona School, or Colona Grange, the iconic 1915 schoolhouse sitting in a field south of Colona, will open again this summer as the Ouray County Ranch History Museum. The museum will operate Sundays 1-5 p.m. from June to September and by appointment for groups and schools. Admission is free.
Museum spokesperson (and storyteller) Jane Bennett thanked the BOCC last week for granting the 180-day permit but questioned, as did everyone on the board why the museum, and county staff, had to go through the permitting process every year. The answer from County Planner Mark Castrodale had to do with the fact the Grange had not been drawn inside the Colona commercial district when that zone was created. As it is, the museum cannot even sell books or other mementos to visitors.
Bennett reported that work has begun to renovate the building’s roof and windows. “We’re so excited,” she said. “Ridgway Valley Construction is doing the roof. And a company called Older Than Dirt out of Salida is doing the windows.”
The BOCC unanimously approved the new permit. And Commissioner Albritton commanded, “You guys, Mark, get together and see if we can fix this zoning thing before next year.”