Cripple Creek Concludes Business For 2022 With Approval Flurry

Council Finalizes Pot Moratorium and Permit Extension for Mega Hotel

Rick Langenberg

Talk about a sprint to the finish line for official business for the city of Cripple Creek—at least for this year.

From finalizing the 2023 budget and setting local property taxes, to dealing with street vacations,  casino expansion extensions, dirty windows of vacant commercial storefronts downtown, and even establishing an emergency marijuana license moratorium, the Cripple Creek City Council ended 2022 last week with a bang.    And this hefty agenda also included actions taken by local students in making recommendations on the allotment of $14,000 for nonprofits serving the southern Teller region, and an update by the Newmont Mining Corporation.

But unlike other municipalities and entities in Teller these days, the city concluded business for the year in a fairly prompt manner, in a final meeting that lasted less than 60 minutes.  At first glance, the spree of scheduled ordinances, resolutions and reports appeared to set the tone for a lengthy, marathon session.

However, that wasn’t the case, as the Creek council moved swiftly in putting the final stamp of approval on many measures already introduced.  The legal clock was ticking for the panel of elected leaders.

The council  needed to get a spree of ordinances and resolutions finalized as they previously decided to cancel their Dec. 21 session.

Here are some of the highlights of the final session for this year.

Pot Moratorium

Leading the pathway for final action was an emergency marijuana moratorium, giving the city a 180-day period for putting a hold on accepting or reviewing any pending cannabis licenses. Voters recently heavily favored a ballot proposal, opening the door for the retail sale of marijuana within the city limits. It would permit two recreational and two medicinal marijuana outlets, based on the citizens petition accepted by the voters.

But according to Cripple Creek’s attorney and key officials, the city needs time to establish the rules and groundwork for handling this issue.

The main questions of concern deal with where these businesses could be located and who would receive the licenses. It is expected that demand will exceed the legal availability, based on preliminary interest.

The council, at the recommendation of attorney Erin Smith, unanimously approved the final reading of the moratorium, which sets a six-month time-out period. Smith earlier stated that the city doesn’t necessarily have to take this much time.  City Administrator Frank Salvato has echoed similar sentiments, saying the town government will move as fast as it can in preparing for this new industry.  In fact, the city has already allocated some marijuana-related revenue for 2023.

Alley and Street Vacations

The council also wasted little time in giving Bronco Billy’s the thumbs-up for an extension of their completion permits for their Chamonix resort, a 300-plus-room, four-star hotel project, with a parking garage and slew of amenities. Full House Resorts, owner of Bronco Billy’s requested the extension due to delays with the completion of Tower Two. Representatives of Full House have indicated that the hotel could be available for an initial opening in the fall, but didn’t believe they could meet the earlier deadline, set for July 2023.

Due to the progress occurring with the project, the council didn’t hesitate in granting the final reading of an ordinance, granting this extension until the end of 2023. As part of this extension, this would extend the completion conditions for the related street and alleyway vacations.

And in other casino-related business action, the council okayed a request by the Wildwood casino for a vacation for part of Carbonate Street (consisting of an island-like area in front of the Wildwood casino).

The new owners of the Wildwood, the  Fertitta Entertainment Group, which own all of the Golden Nugget casinos, have wanted  to do additional landscaping and install a digital sign, at this spot.

This idea of a digital sign raised some concerns by Mayor Pro Tem Tom Litherland, who cited possible safety problems with a digital sign serving as a distraction for motorists as they enter town. He mentioned the sign used by the Double Eagle as an example.

If the sign is approved, Litherland also inquired about the possibility of the city being able to advertise shows held at the  Butte Theater and other events, with this new display. The digital sign would replace an older more traditional sign that showcases the Butte Theater.

Ken Hartsfield, the city’s head building official, believes these issues with a proposed digital sign could get resolved with the new Wildwood owners.  He reminded the council that the details of the display would still have to get approved by the city.

The city also okayed a final measure that declares dirty windows on vacant buildings in the commercial core as a nuisance, and a situation that must be abated by the property owners. This action stems from various questionable  messages and obscene comments reportedly posted on dirty window areas of certain  empty structures that had remained vacant for years. “This can lead to other nuisances,” said Salvato.

But since contacting the property owners of these structures, he said much of the problem has already been rectified.

Even local students got into the final city action for the year. The council approved $14,000 in proposed allotments from students in the Pioneers in Public Service program.  The students, who are part of the Cripple Creek/Victor RE-1 School District, evaluated proposals made by a variety of nonprofits, with funds awarded from the city’s community allocation monies. It is collaborative effort among the Community of  Caring, the city and the RE-1 School District.

And to further top matters off, the city also approved their 2023 budget and the various government funds (see related story), along with setting the property mill rates.