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Skiing in the new year in the Abajos.  Natalie Randall photo
Skiing in the new year in the Abajos. Natalie Randall photo
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Bluff City Council approves Lyman Family Farms municipal disconnect and event alcohol permit
Jan 15, 2019 | 777 views | 0 0 comments | 151 151 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bluff Town Council held their second meeting of the year on Jan. 8 at the Bluff Community Center. The first item on the agenda for the council was the consideration of a 72-hour alcohol permit for the Friends of Cedar Mesa event scheduled for March 1-2. “For Celebrate Cedar Mesa we would like your guys’ consent to sell some wine and beer on Saturday of the event,” Lindsey Luttrell with The Friends of Cedar Mesa said. “The permit is for 72 hours, so if possible or if it arises Friday, we may sell alcohol then too.” The council approved the request unanimously, granting the organization a three-day single event permit, which is exactly the same permit the council has approved in the past. “Every calendar year, an entity gets to request 12 of these from the state,” Luttrell said. “This will be the first one Cedar Mesa is requesting for 2019. “And if other entities in town were to ever come to you, it would not be out of character to ask for some kind of a fee for it, so that you then could garner money from the people asking you for the ability to get permits.” The next agenda item the council considered was the Lyman Family Farms disconnect, which the council unanimously approved. “In keeping with the ongoing Lyman Family Farms agenda item, we are required as a municipality to have a vote prior to Jan. 13, 2019,” Bluff Mayor Ann K. Leppanen said. “And the issue is whether or not we will grant their petition to disconnect what is referred to as Lyman Family Farms.” Mayor Leppanen gave each council member the opportunity to talk about why they are voting the way they are prior to anyone making a motion on the disconnect. “I love that property out there, and I love that it is so attached to Bluff, but what I’m worried about is an open wound in our town, festering for two years while this thing would go through the courts,” said councilman Brant Murray. “My first gut reaction is to fight like hell. “But my level-headedness tells me that this may be a battle that we want to sit out and not fight. And I haven’t decided how I am going to vote yet. “So both of those weigh really heavily on me...I haven’t decided, but those are my two ideas. One is I don’t want to leave an open wound. And two is I don’t want to give up anything that Bluff cherishes so dearly.” Councilwoman Luanne Hook weighed in on the controversial disconnect next, stating that she agreed with Murray. “It’s been a real struggle to go, ‘What do we do with these guys...’ What it basically is is a new town. “We are a brand new town, and we’ve inherited a bad decision as we’ve got a bad decision made by Utah’s SITLA board to sell this piece of land. They took it out. They sold it. “The new people are private property owners, that’s a done deal. We don’t yet know why they want to leave Bluff. “We don’t know, but we do know the Lyman Family Farms; they’re private property owners which goes with it a lot of rights with Utah and anywhere else. “They’re private property owners. We can’t change that, but they will still be under county ordinance. The county will still have a say on what’s going on... “They did buy what we collectively call our Comb Ridge. It was in our town, it was what we used as a park. So I am going to vote yes to let them go back to the county.” Hook estimated that the cost to fight the disconnect in court would range from $50,000 to $100,000 – part of the reason she indicated she would vote yes for the disconnect. “I was not elected to engage in expensive litigation,” Councilwoman Linda Sosa said. “Expensive, long, nasty litigation with an attorney who will take us through the wringer. “There is no doubt in my mind that we will spend every waking moment wondering who’s being deposed. Who has to file an answer? Who has to do this? “I’m not doing it. I would love to tell them no, but in my mind, I cannot say that that is the best thing for this town.” Sosa went on to say that she has faith that we are seeing a great change in San Juan County with the new commissioners, who she believes the council can work with to make sure they enforce the planning and zoning for the county and that the road is not privatized at the farm. “I’m not going to engage in litigation at this point,” Sosa said. “We would fail as a town, and I wasn’t elected to make sure we failed.” Jim Sayers stated that he agreed with his fellow council members. “A lot of it is a cost-benefit analysis that it would cost us a lot of money to deny this disconnect,” Sayers said. “Even if we were to somehow prevail we don’t have the money to really go forward. And there’s also the matter of the economic time and resources.” Sayers made the motion to approve the disconnect for Lyman Family Farms from the town of Bluff, which was seconded by Hook. The council then unanimously approved the disconnect from the city. The city will have 30 days to create an ordinance for the disconnect following the Jan. 8 meeting.
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Monticello City Council receives 2018 police department statistics
Jan 15, 2019 | 648 views | 0 0 comments | 150 150 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Monticello City Council held their regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 8, a meeting that lasted just over two hours. As usual, the meeting started with an invocation or a prayer, which Mayor Tim Young performed after no member of the public volunteered for the task. Monticello Police Chief Clayton Black gave the only department report of the evening to the council shortly after the meeting began. “I’ve compiled some numbers for comparison over the year,” Black said. “It’s kind of a measurement. It’s kind of hard to measure the effect the police department has, but there are a few ways that we can.” Black told the council there were 543 total incidents the Monticello Police Department responded to in 2018. “That number is about 40 lower than last year and 10 higher than two years ago,” Black said, adding that the department also conducted four search warrants over the course of the year. “In 2017 we did one [search warrant], and in 2016 we did six.” Black said the searches in 2016, which were mostly drug-related, put a “pretty big dent” in some of the criminal operations in Monticello. Black believes it made the department’s 2017 a little easier following the searches but stated 2018 saw an increase, something he described as a rollercoaster. “Four is a pretty good number, and we do have the county task force that helps us on that,” Black said. “So it’s not just the Monticello Police Department.” A list was provided to the council which showed all of the calls the department responded to in 2018. “The number that stuck out to me was the possession charges [distribution or possession],” Black said. “It’s 61 and those are all drug calls. “Some of our other high calls – the animal problems – we were at 40. Citizen assist – and that could be something that is not too serious – that was at 24. Traffic crashes were pretty high...and suspicious circumstances.” The highest amount of calls came from people requesting vehicle identification number inspections from the department. There were 99 in total. “In 2018 we wrote a total of 1,125 citations,” Black said of misdemeanor and traffic tickets issued by the department. Of the 61 drug-related citations, Black said around 60 came from traffic stops. “We’ve seen a lot more drugs,” Black said. “I don’t know. Colorado has been open for five years, but apparently the business is just starting to now boom. We’ve seen a lot more drugs coming through Monticello, and those are found by traffic stops.” Mayor Tim Young asked Black if the majority of the drug citations were marijuana-related. Black confirmed that 90 percent of the drug citations are marijuana-related where the product comes from a dispensary. “I wanted to point that out because we are not living in a drug-ridden community,” Black said. “Most of those are found on traffic stops, and they are not our locals. Those are just people passing through. We do have, maybe five out of those 60 are locals.” Young then asked Black how he thinks the new Utah marijuana laws will affect some of the citations written last year. “So if somebody has a medical card, even from another state, they can be in possession legally in our state,” Black said. “But if their marijuana exceeds the amount that the state of Utah allows them to have, then it’s still a criminal violation. “If it’s at or below the amount that Utah allows them to have, but is not packaged properly, then it could be an infraction.” Black said the department has received training on the new marijuana laws, but that it’s something that is new to the officers. He estimated it may take the department up to six months to become fully acclimated to the new marijuana laws. “It’s going to be tough for us to figure out, you know,” Black said. “Once we do it for six months, then it won’t be a big deal. “But right now it’s new to us and you’ve got to figure out are they in possession legally but it’s not packaged correctly? “Utah is not selling it anywhere at this point, nor are they giving cards. So a doctor can write a prescription. “Say I pulled over a car, and I can smell marijuana but somebody says, ‘Hey, I’ve got this prescription.’ That still works for now. “But then, where Utah is not set up to sell it at this point, it’s like, ‘Hey, where are you getting your marijuana?’” Young pointed out that it is still legal for someone to buy marijuana from another state like Colorado if the packaging and amounts are of the legal Utah limit and the person has a card or prescription. “That’s kind of where it gets messy,” Black said. “The doctor is not explaining to someone, ‘I’ll write you a prescription for marijuana but you have to have less than this, it has to be carried such a way, it has to be packaged in such a way.’ “It can’t be burned, but if you see marijuana in a pipe, that is still illegal. You can’t burn to ingest it, but it will work itself out as far as we are concerned.” The topic of conversation eventually led to driving under the influence arrests. Black said the department had 10 in 2018, which is a significant increase from recent years. The 10 DUIs in 2018 were part of the 109 people who were booked into the county jail. “If you look at the comparison years, it went way up this year,” Black said. “And again, that is in correlation with the traffic stops and the possessions.” The next Monticello City Council will hold their next meeting on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Hideout Community Center.
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