Feb 11, 2014 11:59 PM by Maddie Garrett

COS City Council Settles Contentious Issues

From new rules on where you can carry marijuana, to a new chapter in the power struggle between the mayor and Colorado Springs City Council, News 5 is keeping track of some key issues decided at City Council Tuesday.

The first major item on the agenda was a disagreement between Mayor Steve Bach and some city council members when it comes to filling vacant positions.

"It's just a conflict that we have and to be fair the charter is unclear on several of these issues," said Council member Jill Gaebler.

Council tried to pass an ordinance a few weeks ago that gave it more control over interim appointments. The ordinance set a time limit on how long a temporary appointment could last before the Council could step in and vet the employee for a permanent position.

But the mayor vetoed that ordinance. On Tuesday, council didn't get enough votes to override the mayor's veto.

"The mayor can hire interim employees for an extended period of time, hopefully not for more than a year, but that is not specified and that is one of the things council was trying to nail down," said Gaebler after the vote.

Next up was a new ban on bringing marijuana into city buildings and the airport.

"Why are we doing this? Is there some rash of marijuana offenses that says we need to do this?" asked someone during public comment.

Council President Keith King said the new rule is not to punish people or fine them excessively, but to discourage people from bringing marijuana into city facilities.

"It's going to be very like a facility penalty, very de-criminalized, and a very low penalty," said King.

Under the proposed ordinance, if someone brings pot in a city facility or the Colorado Springs Airport, they won't face a criminal drug charge. Instead the person will have the chance to leave the building or hand over their pot. But after a warning, the person could face up to a $100 fine if they still try to bring marijuana into the building.

The penalty ordinance still has to go to a final vote at the next council meeting.

Finally, Council settled the fight over a convenience store being built in Flying Horse Ranch Subdivision.

Homeowners originally were worried about the sole entrance proposed on Roller Coaster Road, where a park is right across the street. Some people have been protesting the "right-in/right-out" entrances for over a year.

"Our concern is where they're putting this right in right out and the traffic hazards that's going to create," said Mark Hankle, a resident in Flying Horse Ranch.

To alleviate homeowner's concerns, City traffic engineers and developers added another "right-in/right-out" entrance on North Gate Boulevard, which happens to be near the intersection of North Gate and Roller Coaster Rd. The idea is to relieve more traffic from Roller Coaster Road where the park sits.

"Trying to get as many people off Roller Coaster is an important factor that was considered here today," said King.

But Hankle and other homeowners said that doesn't ease their safety concerns either. Hankle got an appeal on the agenda of the City's approval of the "right-in/right-out" entrance on Tuesday.

"This new right-in/right-out on North Gate, we don't believe is going to relieve traffic on Roller Coaster," said Hankle.

After all was said and done, the Council denied the homeowner's appeal to limit the entrances with one stipulation that a traffic light be put in at North Gate and Roller Coaster Road.

King said just because they approved this entrance doesn't mean they'll approve similar ones in the future, saying every development is different.



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