Headlines July 30, 2020

Headlines July 30, 2020

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A judge today upheld Governor Jared Polis’ last call rule and capacity limits for bars and restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently imposed a 10pm last call, as well limits on the number of people who can avail of in-person dining.

On July 21, the Tavern League of Colorado, a trade association representing more than 200 businesses around the state, filed a lawsuit against the State of Colorado and the Department of Public Health and Environment. The suit was seeking a restraining order to cease enforcement of specific capacity limits.

The current restrictions require bars and restaurants to limit customers to 50 percent of the business’s capacity or a maximum of fifty guests, whichever number is smaller. Larger businesses (with more than one room) are allowed up to 100 guests.

The lawsuit said that the capacity limitations were imposed without thought to the viability of the establishments they affect, and described them as a death knell for many of the Tavern League’s members.

In today’s ruling, Judge Brian Whitney said he was sympathetic to the plight of restaurant and bar owners but added that the state had a rational basis for imposing the measures.

The Colorado Attorney General’s office today issued a cease and desist order to a company that ran a rodeo in Weld County on July 26.

Colorado Politics reports that the event drew about 2,000 people to a private farm near Hudson, and many of them did not wear masks or maintain a safe social distance.

At a press conference on Tuesday Gov. Polis scolded those who attended the rodeo and concert saying such events could lead to more COVID-19 outbreaks.

Governor Polis said that no government policy can force anybody not to be stupid, but he said he was calling on Colorado not to be stupid.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office said they tried to prevent the event, but a spokesperson for the event promoter said deputies couldn’t do anything to stop it.

He said the concert only ended after the landowner saw the size of the crowd, and told the promoters to call it off.

Today the Attorney General’s office contacted Live Entertainment Co. on behalf of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, saying the event was in violation of Gov. Jared Polis’ executive order banning events if they have more than 175 guests.

The event organizer is currently promoting a dance that is scheduled to take place at a ranch in Agate, Colorado, on Aug. 15. More than 600 people have RSVP’ed on Facebook.

The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that a lawsuit brought by Boulder County and the City of Lafayette against oil and gas drilling company 8 North, LLC and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, can proceed despite 8 North’s parent company, Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., filing bankruptcy.

In a news release, county officials said that while bankruptcy filings can result in automatic holds being put on all pending litigation against the bankrupt party, the plaintiffs argued the case should go forward and the appellate court agreed.

The suit challenges the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s policy of accepting only summary, unofficial evidence of mineral ownership from operators in its hearings.

The complaint alleges that 8 North failed to provide adequate evidence that it owns the mineral rights it claims. It also says the state’s regulatory agency, the COGCC, should not have accepted or relied on the summary and hearsay evidence that the company did provide.

 

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On Wednesday, Denver Water asked a court to dismiss its appeal of a district court decision that said Boulder County has the right to review a permit application to expand Gross Reservoir.

The reservoir and dam expansion already has federal approval and would be the biggest construction project in Boulder County history. It has drawn heated opposition from many in the county including local residents, environmentalists and county officials.

Boulder County asserted its right to review the permit application, known as the 1041 process. Through that process, the county would have the option to deny the entire project.

Denver Water had appealed a court ruling in favor of Boulder County’s local permitting process but now the utility is withdrawing that appeal.

In a statement yesterday Boulder County Commissioner Matt Jones said it was a great win and that the Gross Dam expansion project would have major impacts on Boulder County residents and the environment.

Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave Denver Water the approval to proceed with the project under the condition the construction begin within two years.

Todd Hartman, a spokesperson for Denver Water, said that due to the timeline being imposed by the federal agency, they don’t have time to move through the appeals procedure and now seek to move through the local permitting process in a timely way.

Denver Water is expected to submit its application by late summer or early fall. After county staff reviews the project, it will be subject to public hearings before the Boulder County Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners.

Advocates for those experiencing homelessness are criticizing an early morning sweep of a homeless encampment near the state Capitol in Denver on Wednesday.

The Denver Post reports that police began assembling at Lincoln Park around 6:30 a.m. Denver public health officials cited health and safety concerns as the reason for the sweep.

Terese Howard, an advocate with Denver Homeless Out Loud said that about 200 residents of the camp were cleared out without any notice and now have nowhere to go.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has been criticized for his handling of homelessness in the city particularly the ongoing sweeps of camps which go against advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says such actions could spread COVID-19, unless safe housing is available.

Denver Public School Board member Tay Anderson was taken to a hospital after he was injured during a protest at Wednesday morning’s sweep. Anderson told the Denver Post that Denver police pushed him to the ground. Anderson spoke at a Community Press Conference at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver on Wednesday night. He criticized the Denver police and Denver city officials for the ongoing sweeps of the homeless encampments.

The Cherry Creek School District said Wednesday evening that they plan to implement a hybrid learning model for middle and high school students when they return to school this fall.

The district superintendent held a virtual press conference Wednesday night to explain the hybrid learning model.

This includes full in-person learning for elementary school students and a blended learning plan for grades 6-12. The blended plan includes students divided into cohorts with two days of in-person learning and three days of remote learning every week.

On Wednesday Denver Public schools announced that it will delay in-person teaching until at least mid-October for most students.

The Denver Post reports that most of the district’s 93,000 students will take classes virtually through at least Oct. 16.

DPS had previously committed to full-time in-person instruction.