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Fireworks expected for Fourth

By Jim Haug Herald staff writer

Durango should celebrate Independence Day with a boom.

City Manager Ron LeBlanc on Monday said he anticipated fireworks for Durango unless told otherwise by fire officials.

Fireworks had to be canceled last year because of extremely dry conditions and a busy wildfire season.

The council met Monday instead of Tuesday so local officials could attend the summer meeting of the Colorado Municipal League that starts today in Vail.

In other ways, it was a typical meeting as councilors, a developer and neighbors argued for an hour about the design and functionality of a proposed three-unit multi-family development at 423 E. Eighth Ave. that would be 40 by 50 feet, bordered by an 8-foot tall fence.

Property owner Nancy Lloyd said the infill project was needed to ease Durango’s affordable-housing crisis, but a neighbor, John Squire, said it was incompatible with the single-family neighborhood.

“It is not in line with the character of the neighborhood,” Squire said. “It’s a big building out of scale.”

With recommended design tweaks for a side entrance and bear-proof trash containers, the council voted to 4-1 to approve a conditional-use permit for the project with Councilor Dean Brookie, who still had design issues, in opposition.

As part of the consent agenda, the council also adopted a new policy to forbid picture-taking of public documents.

Records requesters who have been taking photos of documents with their smartphones have undermined the city’s ability to recoup its costs of retrieving the records.

After the first 10 pages, the city charges 25 cents a page. After the first 15 minutes of time needed to retrieve records, it also charges a flat fee of $30 an hour.

The $30 fee for an employee’s time is new because the city had previously charged a fee based on the hourly wage of the employee needed to fulfill the request.

The Colorado Open Records Law allows for local government to set “reasonable” procedures for fulfilling public-records requests.

In an interview with The Durango Herald, Mike Beylkin, a lawyer with the Denver firm of Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz, which represents the Colorado Press Association, said it is a “perfectly plausible policy. It remains to be seen whether it will be applied in a fair and just manner.”

As an example, Beylkin suggested an indigent requester cannot afford the fees.

In other business, the city had a public hearing over a 10-year cable franchise agreement for Bresnan Communications.

Under the terms, Bresnan would pay the city a franchise fee of 5 percent of the gross revenues plus an ongoing contribution of funding for public, educational and governmental access channels, including a one-time contribution of $15,000.

Bresnan will be required to continue to comply with city-approved customer-service standards. The agreement calls for the potential addition of a high-definition channel for CitySpan 10.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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