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Delta urges governor's veto on municipal court mandate

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At the recommendation of the city attorney, the Delta City Council has written a letter to Governor John Hickenlooper urging him to veto HB16-1309.

The bill would require public defenders at each session of jail advisements in municipal court, which could prove costly. Councilmembers agreed with the city attorney's assessment that HB16-1309 is an unfunded mandate that is also unnecessary.

"Employing an attorney and paying him or her to wait during municipal court advisements on the minimal chance that a defendant meets the requirements of the bill would be a waste of taxpayer dollars," the letter states.

"The Delta Municipal Court already complies with the requirements of the United States and Colorado constitutions concerning defendants' right to counsel. Adding additional requirements as mandated by this bill would cause unnecessary continuation of cases and may push more cases into the already overworked county court system."

The letter continues: "This bill will have a significant impact on municipalities in rural areas such as Delta. The number of local attorneys who might qualify to serve the role of public defender for the purposes of this bill is limited, so there is a substantial likelihood that a public defender would need to be hired and paid to travel from Grand Junction or further."

At the May 17 council meeting, the four councilmembers present voted unanimously to authorize the letter to be signed by Mayor Ed Sisson.

In other business, the council approved a zoning change at 618 and 620 Bridge Street from mobile home residential to industrial. The zoning change was recommended by the Delta Planning Commission upon the condition the property, which is used for a salvage yard, be screened from neighboring residences and from Highway 348.

The property owners are David and Sarah Triantos, who said they believe the MHR zone was erroneous. The property has been used in an automotive-related way since the 1960s, and no reason for the mobile home zone could be found during an extensive search of city records.

"I believe that a mistake was made when the property was changed from industrial to mobile home some time in the past and that the requested change from mobile home back to industrial will make the zoning correct," Triantos said.

Community development director Glen Black told councilmembers they could adopt the planning commission recommendation or set another hearing. Council voted 4-0 to adopt the planning commission recommendation. "They did a thorough review," said councilmember Gerald Roberts.

The brief meeting ended with a comment from councilmember Ron Austin, who suggested the city council officially recognize the Delta Panthers for qualifying for the state baseball playoffs for the first time in 32 years.

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