By Michael Henry
Committee Chair Margie Valdez called the meeting to order and introduced a discussion of marijuana and its effects on neighborhoods and young people. City Councilwoman-at-Large Robin Kniech described Council Bill 16-0291, a very complicated and much-negotiated ordinance to regulate and limit any new marijuana retail licenses and cultivation licenses, which is scheduled for final reading on April 25 and, if passed, will be effective on May 1, 2016. There will be a possibility of 44 new locations in Denver. There are currently 213 cultivation-only locations in the city, 146 retail-only locations and 64 combined locations, for a total of 423 facilities.
The new ordinance will require a 1000-foot buffer between cultivation facilities and schools and residential zone districts. In the future, unlike the past, any new applications will be subject to a full needs-and-desires hearing by the Department of Excise and Licenses. In addition, applicants for new or renewed licenses will be required to have a “community engagement plan,” which must include plans to create positive impacts in the neighborhood where the business will be located and procedures to address neighborhood concerns. Neighborhood organizations should become familiar with the current locations in their neighborhoods and any problems they may cause and be prepared to respond promptly to notices of applications for new licenses. A separate new ordinance will impose greater controls on offensive odors.
Nancy Grandy-Jones, a Globeville business owner who has been involved in recent Globeville-Elyria-Swansea neighborhood planning efforts, spoke about the dangers of bad-health effects of marijuana facilities on surrounding neighborhood residents, workers and students. She urged that tax revenue from marijuana should be returned to assist impacted neighborhoods and that neighborhoods should work together to study and remedy marijuana problems.
Henny Lasley, one of the founders of Smart Colorado, a volunteer organization, the main goal of which is to protect youth from marijuana problems, spoke about various issues. She said that there are now at least 300 different types of recreational marijuana edible products. Smart Colorado recently successfully supported legislation to more clearly label such products. The high potency of current marijuana products is a problem for all users. She said that recreational and medicinal marijuana is now a billion- dollar per year industry in Colorado. More information can be found at www.smartcolorado.org. Committee member Gertie Grant suggested that marijuana-facility licenses should be quickly revoked when problems occur.
David Engelken, vice president of Humboldt Street Neighborhood Association, and Kim Nytes of Curtis Park Neighbors spoke briefly about proposed developments in both of their neighborhoods of large developments of micro-apartments that have no parking for residents. Such developments are allowed on small lots (6250 square feet or less) in Main Street and Mixed Use districts under the 2010 zoning code. It was discussed that, even in the unlikely event that the residents of such apartments have no cars, they will certainly have visitors with cars, which will impact neighborhoods with very little on-street parking. At the next Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on May 21, there will be a fuller discussion of this problem and a possible moratorium to be requested from City Council for such developments.
City Council is presently expected to have a public hearing on June 13 on an ordinance to legalize and regulate short-term rental properties. All Registered Neighborhood Organizations should send their positions to City Council and/or testify in person on this important ordinance that will affect all neighborhoods. It was announced that Councilman Wayne New has withdrawn his proposed amendment which would have allowed one property-owner to operate 2 separate short-term rentals in Denver, instead of only one in his/her permanent residence.
A motion was made, seconded and passed (with one abstention) to clarify a motion from the March 26 ZAP committee regarding the Platte to Pak Hill stormwater project as follows:
Flood protection and ensuring the safety of existing Denver residents is of paramount importance to all of us in INC and in Denver’s neighborhoods. Protection of existing historic Denver neighborhoods, existing Areas of Stability, and existing designated park lands is crucial and should be Denver’s priority. For this reason, we move that the City explore all reasonable options before moving forward on the “Platte to Park Hill: Stormwater Systems” program and the Globeville Drainage program, evaluating options not based on utility for CDOT, RTD and revenues for the City, but based on full study and meaningful neighborhood involvement.
The next ZAP Committee meeting will be on Saturday May 21 (one week earlier than usual to avoid the Memorial Day weekend) at 9:30 – 11:30am at 1201 Williams Street in the 19th-floor party room. Members of all RNOs are welcome.
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