Monday, May 17, 2010

Boulder to finalize medical marijuana rules, take on grassland management

With its annual summer vacation looming, the Boulder City Council on
Tuesday will tackle several major proposals, including setting rules for
medical marijuana, debating the first comprehensive grassland management
plan and voting on "SmartRegs" for rental properties.

Here's a look at what's on the agenda.

Medical marijuana

Setting new rules for the medical marijuana industry in Boulder is all
but a done deal.

The City Council on May 4 approved sweeping regulations for the
blossoming industry of dispensaries and growing operations, but the
council still needs to finalize the decision Tuesday.

The third public reading is on the council's consent agenda, so it won't
come with a full public hearing. Advocates and opponents of the
proposal, however, will have one last chance to weigh in before the vote
during the first 45 minutes of public comment time.

The rules, as proposed, would create a licensing system for
dispensaries, set hours of operation, require security and limit the
amount of marijuana each business can have on hand.

Owners would have to undergo criminal background checks, pay a licensing
fee of up to $5,000 and keep detailed records about patients and sales
of the drug for the city to inspect. Marijuana operations could not be
within 500 feet of schools or licensed day-care centers, and they would
have to offset 100 percent of their growing operation with wind or solar

City officials are still figuring out how Boulder's rules would interact
with state rules that Gov. Bill Ritter is expected to sign.


For the first time, members of the public will be able to tell the
entire City Council, face-to-face, how they feel about the city's
proposed SmartRegs -- a contentious set of rules that, among other
things, would require landlords to make energy-efficiency upgrades.

The proposed rules would make three major changes.

First, the city is considering adopting the International Property
Maintenance Code, which is more comprehensive than Boulder's existing
housing code.

Another proposal is to create a new system for licensing and inspecting
rental properties, increasing the fees for a rental license from $46 to
$70 and charging a $250 fee if the city has to investigate a property
for not complying with the rental code.

Perhaps the most divisive proposal is to require landlords to make
improvements that could include installing energy-efficient appliances,
sealing ducts or better insulating their rental properties.

In a rare move, the council will hold a full public hearing on the first
reading of the regulations. That will give the public at least two
opportunities to comment about the regulations before the elected
officials take a final vote.

Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan

The city of Boulder is looking to adopt a comprehensive management plan
that would cover 24,000 acres of grassland habitat and open space.

As proposed, the Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan would set the
allowed uses for grasslands, wetlands, riparian areas, agricultural
operations on open space and protections for prairie dogs.

Grasslands represent about half of Boulder's open space properties,
which are mostly located in Boulder County or Jefferson County.

The management plan would add 168 acres to the areas where prairie dogs
could be relocated, and it sets budgets and priorities for projects like
repairing irrigation ditches, setting a plan for controlled burns on
grasslands and constructing fish passages along Boulder Creek.

The council will be asked to adopt the plan Tuesday night.

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