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Crawford sets rules for citizen comments

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Citizens wanting to address the Crawford council now have official guidelines to help them determine if their concerns or topics should be placed on the agenda or addressed during the public non-agenda items portion of the meeting.

At the Nov. 2 council meeting, trustees passed, 4-1, a resolution "setting forth the process and criteria for a citizen request to address the city council," and a related "Rules of Procedure and Conduct" for town meetings.

Mayor Wanda Gofforth provided copies for the public. She explained that the rules of procedure and conduct are based on Robert's Rules of Order and are intended to give the public "a refresher if you're not sure what they are." The rules call for a limit of two to five minutes for public presentations, with more time allowed for "larger issue presenters ... as determined beforehand by the Mayor." It also states that comments or questions should be confined to the agenda item or issue under discussion and asks citizens to "offer factual information and refrain from obscene language and personal attacks."

Resolution language outlines the steps needed and the criteria town staff will use in determining whether to consider requests from the public for placement on the agenda. Under the adopted rule, citizens "should provide the request through the Town Clerk's office at least seven days prior" to the meeting. That allows the town to prepare information packets and get them to council members ahead of, rather than at the meeting, said town clerk Cally Gallegos. This way, they are up to speed when the meeting begins.

During discussion of the agenda item, "Clarification of Vote in 2012," council passed a motion "to stand with the voters of Crawford and continue to prohibit any kind of marijuana businesses in the town."

Mayor Gofforth reminded council that in April 2012 citizens voted, 57-45, to prohibit "the operation and licensing of medical marijuana centers, cultivation and manufacturing of edible products." Also, said Gofforth, in June 2013, council approved an ordinance prohibiting the establishment and operation of marijuana businesses for any purpose or use and declaring such businesses a nuisance.

"We've had a citizen at our meetings request that we let him open a marijuana shop, and I felt that we need to address this at council," said Gofforth, referring to Crawford resident Jay Ziegler, whose marijuana business was closed by the town following adoption of the 2013 ordinance.

Trustee Tammy Broughton cast the dissenting vote. At the Sept. 21 council meeting, Broughton, a caregiver who works with end of life patients, suggested that council members "do some research" on the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

"Well, I have done it," said Gofforth, holding up a stack of papers. "The majority of the research has not been a positive." She read an Oct. 12 letter from outgoing Denver District Attorney Mitchell Morrissey to the state of California, which has a legalization question on its ballot. The letter includes statistics on the state's crime rates since cannabis was legalized in 2012.

"I really don't think you need a motion, personally, because it was voted on by the people," said former mayor Jim Crook. He said he believes the 2012 vote should stand and suggested the town doesn't need to comment on the issue. The only way to change the vote is to hold another vote, said Crook.

Gofforth told Crook that the reason they're taking action is "so that it puts this to bed. So we're not listening to it at every meeting."

Crawford resident Cheryl Hurst asked if the ban prevents someone from bringing the issue to council in the future. "No," said Gofforth. "But it'll be six months before it can be addressed again." She then referred Hurst to her copy of the resolution and rules. "Cheryl, the reason why we're doing this is so that we don't listen to this at every meeting and that we can move on and get some things done. But it has been recommended that we do this this way in order to stop this."

"I think the vote spoke for the town, and we represent the town," said mayor pro tem Mike Tiedeman in supporting the vote.

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