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Hotchkiss town council meeting was busy, uneventful

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The Hotchkiss Town Council had a busy agenda for its Sept. 13 meeting, although it was not particularly eventful. Most of what was done was housekeeping.

The new public works building received some comments as to whether it would be possible to have it run on solar power. Per the design, the roof has been sloped south so that solar panels can be placed on it. There are some technical challenges with insulation codes (this being a large steel building), but it seems that at least the primarily occupied sections will be able to be run on renewables, should funding be available. "We're doing everything that is practical," said the town engineer.

The town reserves are in good shape. That fact however is making it a bit difficult to receive Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) funding for the new public works building. With that in mind the town is considering creating an official reserves policy. As it stands there are some regulations as to how much the town is required to have on hand (operating funds for sewer and water, for example), but crafting a new reserves policy could allow them to apply for grants without the cash on hand counting against them.

After changing several portions of the bill that had raised concerns, ordinance 2018-5 regarding the growing of marijuana and the sale and possession by a minor is scheduled to be heard during the October meeting. Some of the wording had seemed to allow police to search a property without a warrant; it has been updated to be explicitly compatible with Fourth Amendment protections.

A review of mobile home regulations will also be coming up in October as well. The current code contains some outdated language and policies. For example, trailer park owners required to oversize their utility pipelines would have the difference paid by the town. The council is looking at removing this clause, saying that "developers should pay their own way." The language in question can be found in sections 10-7-8 G and 10-7-6 G of the mobile home and travel home regulations code. Other clarifications of language were examined, but the biggest idea was imposing an age limit on mobile homes. At present any post-1976 HUD compatible mobile home is allowed in town, but there was discussion of creating an age restriction on new mobiles (with a grandfather clause for current trailers and homes).

The council did adopt one resolution during the meeting, resolution 2018-10 Opposing Amendment 74. Amendment 74 is a citizen initiative on the November ballot to expand the takings laws in the Colorado Constitution. Right now any property that is taken by any government must have "fair market value" paid for it. Amendment 74 seeks to expand this by allowing companies and individuals to sue for any reduction in the value of their property caused by legislative actions. Proponents say that it's holding government responsible for its actions, while opponents say that it guts local government authority and opens them to hundreds of millions in damages.

Lastly, the mayor has lifted the stage one fire restriction that has been in place, following the lead of several other counties nearby. With winter approaching quickly it should be safe once again to have a campfire cookout. Though it seems like we're out of the woods this season, there remain concerns about what will happen next year if it's a dry winter.

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