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County discusses budget, receives marijuana apps

Posted: Thursday, Oct 11th, 2012

Courier editor

ALAMOSA — Alamosa County has received two applications for medical marijuana facilities under the ordinance commissioners passed this summer.

One of the applications is in substantial compliance, according to Alamosa County Land Use Manager Juan Altamirano, with all of its paperwork submitted. The other does not yet have a completed application.

Altamirano said those applications will be coming before the county commissioners soon. Under the county’s new ordinance, those wishing to operate medical marijuana facilities in the county must apply for special use permits. Currently there is only one medical marijuana business in the Alamosa area, Sensitiva, located in East Alamosa.

He added that Alamosa County Attorney Jason Kelly is working on an amendment to the county’s medical marijuana ordinance to allow waivers regarding distance restrictions. As it is currently approved, the county’s ordinance lacks provisions for variances or waivers for applicants who might not meet the 1,000-foot restriction from churches, schools, childcare facilities, public parks, governmental buildings, residential areas, dormitories, hospitals and detention facilities.

The Alamosa County Commissioners heard several land use matters during their Wednesday meeting. They also waived a building permit fee at the Del Monte Gun Club, which lies on property owned by the county. The club will be adding a 25x25-foot building at the site. SLV Builders donated the building.

Alamosa County Land Use Administrator Ken VanIwarden gave an extensive update on ongoing or potential blight matters in the county.

One of those areas, which has been an ongoing safety concern for some time, is property owned by Conoco Phillips locally termed “the devil’s playground.” People often trespass onto the property, which is “like a graveyard for equipment right now,” VanIwarden said. The county has sent correspondence to the only address it has for the property owner but no response has yet been received. VanIwarden said the best solution is to build a solid chain link fence around the property so people cannot get in there.

“We are open to suggestions,” he said.

VanIwarden said the county’s blight ordinance requires a show cause hearing before the county commissioners, and his office will be bringing some of these cases to the commissioners for show cause hearings. The county commissioners would then make the determination whether blight exists or not.

VanIwarden said the county has dozens of these types of cases and hopes to get permission to add a staff member to help with these, if the county commissioners approve it in the 2013 budget.

Alamosa County Chief Financial Officer Brittney DeHerrera presented the preliminary 2013 budget to the commissioners on Wednesday. She said the public hearing on the budget will be November 19. The commissioners will hold a work session between now and then to discuss the budget.

Representatives from the Alamosa Senior Citizen Center spoke during the public comment period on Wednesday to urge the county to provide additional funding for the senior center, from the $10,000 last year to $15,000, and they thanked the county for its support.

DeHerrera said the preliminary budget is a planning tool and a starting point for the commissioners. Based on increased assess values, the county can expect about $74,000 in increased property tax revenues, according to DeHerrera. She said she had to budget a 9-percent increase in health insurance in the 2013 budget but has not yet included any of the departmental requests for increased expenditures.

“It’s a conservative budget,” she explained.

The county will maintain a mill levy at 25.238 for 2013, DeHerrera added.

She said most of the fund balances look good, but the county continues to struggle with costs for housing inmates outside the county. She plans to use some of the county’s fund balance to balance the general fund, she explained, because of that additional outsourcing expense.

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