The Littleton City Council will decide Oct. 1 on whether to ban retail marijuana sales in the city for at least a year.
The council on Sept. 17 passed on first reading an ordinance that would extend a moratorium on retail marijuana shops to Oct. 1, 2014. The current moratorium was set to expire Oct. 1.
The council had already approved the measure on first reading during its Sept. 3 meeting but decided to redo the first reading since a formal date for a second reading was not announced, said City Manager Michael Penny.
“Basically, we did not identify a date for the public hearing of second reading,” Penny said. “We decided to err on the side of more process.”
Part of the confusion necessitating a redo on the first reading was the council’s late-night shift in opinion on whether to allow retail marijuana sales.
During the Sept. 3 meeting, the council voted 4-3 to switch the proposed ordinance allowing retail marijuana sales to an ordinance banning retail marijuana. During the discussion before that vote, which took place about 2:30 a.m., several council members voiced concerns about changing an ordinance on first reading.
Council members Jerry Valdes, Peggy Cole and Jim Taylor all questioned whether the ordinance should be brought back before the council for another first reading since the direction of the ordinance was being reversed.
“This is a first reading. Sending it to public hearing so we can hear from the public when it is an announced agenda item is the correct thing to do. If you don’t like what the public says, then you can vote your conscience at this time,” Taylor said. “I think it is unfair to not move forward since the only thing we had on the agenda tonight was to have this on first reading and establish a public hearing date.”
During that meeting, City Attorney Ken Fellman said that because the ordinance was still dealing with the same section of the law, there wasn’t a need to bring it back for another first reading.
While the bill passed on first reading on a 4-3 vote, the date of the second reading when a vote would take place was never announced, making it necessary to bring it back for a second first reading.
Valdes, during discussions Sept. 17, said he had issues with how the process of passing the ordinance had been handled.
“I’m concerned about the process. We’re getting really sloppy with our process when we’re dealing with important issues. I think this is really important,” Valdes said. “If council is going to vote on something, we need to make sure our city attorney is giving us good advice.”
Contact Ramsey Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.