OURAY – Former Ouray Mayor Pam Larson will serve as an interim Ouray City Councilor following the death of Councilor Gary Hansen earlier this month. Larson was appointed to the position at a council meeting on Monday, July 15.
Larson, a Ouray native, will serve for the remainder of Hansen’s four-year term; Hansen was up for election this November, alongside Councilor John Ferguson and Mayor Bob Risch.
Larson comes to council with more than a little experience in city government. She served as mayor for six years before Risch was elected in 2009, and as a city councilor for six years before that. She chaired the Home Rule Charter Commission, which crafted Ouray’s Home Rule Charter, approved by Ouray’s electorate in May 2009.
Larson said she looks forward to learning how things have changed since Ouray became a Home Rule municipality.
Former Councilor Sandy Stuller also volunteered to fill the vacancy created by Hansen’s death. At Monday’s council meeting, Risch pronounced both women excellent candidates. “I would flip a coin and be very satisfied with either of them,” he said.
Councilor Ferguson, observing that Larson was in attendance at the meeting and Stuller was not, made a motion for Larson to fill the vacancy. The motion passed unanimously.
City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli will meet with Larson in the coming week “to get her up to speed,” and she will be sworn in at the next council meeting.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Ferguson was appointed Mayor Pro Tem, a position formerly held by Hansen, who passed away Friday, July 5 after a hard-fought 13-month battle with cancer.
Hansen served on the Ouray City Council for almost four years. A moment of silence was held in his memory at Monday’s meeting. A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 20, at 11 a.m., in the Ouray Community Center for those who wish to share their memories of Hansen and celebrate his life. A light lunch will be provided.
MORATORIUM PUTS LID ON COMMERCIAL POT ESTABLISHMENTS
Following a lengthy public discussion earlier this month, council voted 3-1 on Monday to move forward with a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments in the City of Ouray. The moratorium will remain in effect until November 2014, when Ouray’s electorate will vote on whether to allow marijuana businesses within the city.
Amendment 64 legalized pot in Colorado but gave municipalities local control over how or whether to implement aspects of the law pertaining to commercial establishments within their jurisdictions.
Council has grappled with the issue for the past month. In late June, four out of five councilors appeared settled on a course of action to locally implement and regulate the commercial sale of recreational marijuana locally, but following community pushback,council discussed imposing a moratorium instead, ultimately allowing Ouray’s electorate to decide in November 2014 election whether commercial pot shops should be permitted within city limits.
At Monday’s meeting, council considered a draft moratorium ordinance prepared by City Attorney Kathryn Sellars, which provides flexibility to change or end the moratorium at any time.
Mayor Risch said he thought the moratorium could buy the city valuable time to work toward defining what local implementation of Amendment 64 would entail. “There are an awful lot of unknowns from the state and federal government,” he said. “The more time I spend reading about it, the more I think we need that time.”
Councilor Michael Underwood, who had introduced the idea of the moratorium at the July 2 council meeting, reiterated his belief that it would be “the most fair thing for the electorate,” while Councilor Ferguson remained firm in his position that Ouray’s electorate already weighed in on the issue, with a 59 percent vote in favor of Amendment 64 in the 2012 election.
Councilor Richard Kersen, who has been outspoken in his opposition to allowing commercial marijuana establishments in Ouray, supports the moratorium, but said he “doesn’t want the city to be spending excessive staff and legal time toward creating regulations” in the meantime that may not be necessary, depending on the outcome of the 2014 election.
“I don’t want our lawyers and staff to waste a lot of time,” he said.
After brief discussion, Underwood moved to impose a temporary moratorium on retail marijuana establishments in the City of Ouray “until such time as council, the planning commission and staff can formulate questions we want to put to voters in November 2014, defining what we would ask them to accept or reject.”
The motion passed by a vote of 3-1, with Ferguson opposed.
The moratorium applies to several classes of retail marijuana establishments, including retail marijuana stores, retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana product manufacturing facilities, and retail marijuana testing facilities.
SEARCH FOR NEW POLICE CHIEF CONTINUES
City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli reported the city has received 13 applications for the Chief of Police position. “The timeline and process have not been finalized yet but should be by the end of the week,” he said. The Ouray Police Department has been short-staffed since former Police Chief Leo Rasmusson and two officers quit in May. Currently, Commander Gene Lillard from the Montrose Police Department is filling in as interim chief, through an intergovernmental agreement between the cities of Ouray and Montrose.
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