OURAY – Craig MacCraiger, owner of the Silver Nugget, finally got permission for an encroachment permit to expand his backyard behind the restaurant, but it’s going to cost him.
MacCraiger said he wants the encroachment so he can expand his garden and put in a garden shed. His original encroachment permit was granted in 2005 at a cost of $5,400, which the city gave him ten years to pay out. MacCraiger paid in $2,160, but defaulted on the rest, according to city staff.
But the payment rules for permits have changed, said city administrator Patrick Rondinelli, and the city can no longer give long extensions on permit fees, since it amounts to a non-interest loan from taxpayer funds.
The current assessment of MacCraiger’s property would bring the cost of the encroachment permit to $14,850.
MacCraiger argued for the earlier assessment of $5,400, saying that he had surgery in January that “nearly killed him” and asked for an allowance from what he had paid previously for the earlier permit.
But the earlier permit was not up for discussion, county attorney Kathryn Sellers reminded council.
“Only the new permit is up for discussion,” she said. “You must decide the fee and whether to give credit for payments.”
MacCraiger argued that the city had overcharged him for water in 2008 and 2009, which should be taken into consideration, along with previous payments, but Sellers said that was irrelevant.
After more discussion, the council decided to allow the encroachment at the current permit rate of $14,850, with credit for the $2,160 already paid, and 30 days in which to pay the balance due.
After the meeting, MacCraiger said the issue of the earlier permit and water bills was not dead, and that he has hired an attorney to look into it and has written a letter expressing his displeasure. He did not say whether he would meet council’s conditions for the encroachment permit.
“I will definitely address the issue in the next 30 days,” he said.
Rules for Pot Caregivers Discussed, But No Action
The other big topic of discussion was council’s role regarding medical marijuana patients’ caregivers, something Rondinelli said has not been on the table before, even though council has spent months discussing medical marijuana dispensaries and commercial production and growing operations.
According to Sellers, House Bill 1284 gives certain rights and restrictions for individual providers, but the city is limited in what it can do besides tighten up home business regulations.
“We have to start talking about this – or not,” Sellers said, since council could do nothing and let state regulations rule.
Medical marijuana caregivers are considered nonprofits because they must sell at cost, Sellers said, so they don’t have to pay sales taxes or get permits from the city.
Councilmember Betty Wolfe asked if caregivers could be restricted to a commercial area, but Sellers said “probably not, but you could make home occupancy [businesses] more restrictive.”
At that point, Councilmember John Ferguson asked what the point was.
“Is there a purpose to this discussion?” he asked, and Councilmember Joe Kersen asked what city staff recommended.
Sellers again explained that the city has limited actions, such as imposing rules on number of customers on the premises and how much space could be used in trying to regulate caregivers.
“But the key is, do we let them grow?” asked Mayor Bob Risch. Sellers then explained that under state law, caregivers can grow a certain amount of plants for their patients, but can’t make deliveries.
Just how the city would enforce the rules was an issue, Rondinelli said, since only Police Chief Leo Rasmussen has access to information on caregivers in Ouray, which he can’t reveal because of patient privacy laws.
Councilmember Gary Hansen asked about what recourse council might have to impose rules on caregivers at a later time, should it opt for the do-nothing option, at present.
Rondinelli said the city should do what it can now, with Risch bringing up the axiom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” while adding that trying to fix something later rather than sooner can lead to further problems.
At the end of the hour-long meeting, council had come up with no recommendations, even though Rondinelli said council has “a responsibility” to discuss this.
“Good discussion. I move to adjourn,” Ferguson said, and the topic was closed.