Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs City Council remains divided on recreational marijuana issue

Majority of council supports ballot measure

Colorado Springs City Council remains...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The president of the Colorado Springs City Council says a majority of council members support letting local voters decide whether to allow recreational marijuana sales.

"We have five or six (of the nine) Council votes," said President Richard Skorman.  "I know the mayor (John Suthers) will oppose it.  We'll have a good community-wide discussion about it.  But I don't expect anything on the ballot until next year at the earliest."

Colorado Springs has not allowed recreational pot sales since they were approved by a statewide vote in 2013. Manitou Springs, with two dispensaries open, remains the only municipality in El Paso County selling the product.

"It seems silly to ask voters to decide again after they already decided in 2013," Skorman said.  "If the citizens don't want it, so be it.  But let them decide if we should regulate it and keep the tax revenue."

Most local authorities are still strongly opposed to recreational sales, a stance that was emphasized twice recently -- at a joint meeting of the Council and El Paso County commissioners, and a private meeting involving Suthers and federal officials.

Councilman Merv Bennett is among the opponents.

"I don't want the issue on the ballot," he said.  "That would mean I'm in favor of it, and I'm not.  If the mayor, police chief, fire chief, district attorney, the military installations and school districts say they don't want it, that's good enough for me.  They think there would be too many problems and not enough resources to deal with them."

In other Council business, several city staff members and planners presented an update on an ongoing master plan for the southwest downtown area.

The plan now includes improving the area immediately east of the intersection of Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue where the Olympic Museum is currently under construction.

The city has been working on developing the downtown area since 1971, and has updated the plan 10 times.

Monday's presentation provided another update and look ahead to plan over the next 20 years.

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