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Cedaredge affirms action to allow alcohol sales near school

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The public had an opportunity on June 16 to make its thoughts known on Cedaredge's move to allow alcohol sales across the street from Cedaredge Elementary School. The previous distance limit was 500 feet.

In the end, the public was informed; it participated in a decision that affects the community; and people spoke their minds to elected representatives in town government. And the town board upheld its decision, clearing the way for an existing restaurant to apply for a liquor license.

The Cedaredge Town Board adopted ordinance 2016-04 by a 5-2 vote May 19 without any prior public discussion. In taking a second look at the move during the June 16 meeting, trustees declined by the same vote tally to rescind it.

The ordinance will allow the Cedaredge Creekside Cafe to apply for a hotel/restaurant liquor license for serving alcohol to customers; but only with their meals, promise trustees and cafe owner, Codi Nelson.

The Delta County School District Board of Education, which had not been previously consulted by the town about allowing a liquor license to operate 60 feet from Cedaredge Elementary School, expressed strong opposition. By opposing the town's action, the Board of Education reassured parents of its zero tolerance toward anything that might negatively impact the well being of students and urged the town board to reverse its decision.

A crowd filled the council chamber to capacity for the June 16 meeting.

Cedaredge residents Loretta and Greg Busch agreed with the school district educators and addressed the board on June 16. Loretta Busch based her comments on safety concerns for students and told trustees that 60 feet was "way too close" to the school for alcohol sales. Her husband Greg told trustees there is "no reason whatsoever to have liquor that close to a school." The children will see it and be influenced by it, he warned.

Cedaredge resident Anne Snyer noted that the cafe is well run; but she said there are "negatives" to the liquor license plan. She cited inadequate visibility for the business' limited parking, all of which fronts directly onto busy North Grand Mesa Drive. "An impaired patron who isn't paying attention" is a negative, she said.

Cedaredge Creekside Cafe owner Codi Nelson promised that she would serve alcohol to her customers only during restricted hours and that she would "work with the school." Her assurances of alcohol service limits were cited by trustees in support for the ordinance they adopted.

Two people at the town board's meeting, John Whitney and Teresa Toothaker, expressed support for the concept of limited alcohol serving hours.

Cedaredge's Home Rule Charter allows it to shorten its decision process, establishing that ordinances can be introduced and adopted in the same meeting. As was shown in adopting Ordinance 2016-04 the same night it was introduced, the public's opportunity to be involved is also reduced.

The ordinance was included in the agenda and was posted 24 hours prior to the May 19 meeting in the window of Cedaredge Town Hall. It was then adopted without prior public discussion. Trustees were familiar with the issue when it came up for discussion. Town staff had researched the ordinance with other communities and with Colorado Municipal League lawyers.

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