The Crestone Eagle • January, 2021

Reigel resigns as Mayor of Moffat

Annexation of additional property
being considered

by Lisa Cyriacks

Mayor Patricia Riegel submitted her resignation at a Special Meeting on December 10, citing personal health reasons.

Earlier in 2020, charges of official misconduct were filed against Riegel by District Attorney Robert Willet after hearing complaints from Moffat citizens following a May incident involving conflict between an employee and employer on property in Area 420. Riegel and the Town’s code enforcement officer entered the property under the guise of a compliance check, allowing the employee to remove items from the premises.

The Town of Moffat has not been without challenges and controversies over the past few years.  

In 2018 the Town annexed 100+ acres of land with the intention of developing a designated Commercial Cannabis Park, Colorado Area 420 LLC. The development proved to be popular and soon reached capacity. 

Less than a year later, the Town began the proceedings to annex an additional 325 acres, also owned by Potch LLC, the developer of Colorado Area 420. The Town used an unusual annexation process known as flagpole annexation, utilizing County Road 59, to add the property to the Town. The land is also to be developed as commercial cannabis property.   

In 2020, the Saguache County Commissioners filed a legal objection to the second and third annexation, asserting that the Town failed to meet the annexation requirements under statute and that the annexation was not in the best interests of county residents. The Town prevailed in the proceedings and the court awarded $13,747.50 in fees and costs to be paid by the County.

Progress on the expansion and subdivision of the property has been placed on hold, however, while the Town trustees develop new codes and zoning for the Town—specifically in response to the expansion of Area 420, designated as a Commercial Cannabis Park. The Town of Moffat currently does not have regulations or other policy guidance for land use development. As acknowledged by the former Mayor, there is no planning commission or Master Plan.

In November 2020, public hearings were conducted to consider the annexation of an additional 94 acres of land south of County Road UU60 (aka County Road X). This property, too, is slated to be developed as cannabis cultivation property. Discussions are underway to utilize the eastern edge of the property (closest to Moffat School) for residential and non-cannabis commercial development.

At the same meeting that Riegel resigned, the Town voted to retain Williamson & Hayashi, LLC as their specialized counsel to review and advise the board on the pending annexation and the the most recent Potch LLC annexation that was challenged in court. Also retained as interim Town Attorney while the Town completes its search, was Karen Lintott of Salida.

Throughout the two-year process, residents expressed concerns about the expedited pace of development without apparent consideration for legal requirements—contending that Moffat is pushing forward with plans to expand marijuana business under their own rules and for the benefit of a select few insiders.

Questions remain on the table as to Moffat’s ability to provide needed services to a growing population, including infrastructure such as water, sewer and fire hydrants. All along the hope has been that with the added revenues from fees, licenses and excise taxes, Moffat would have the revenue to build infrastructure and add services.

After charges were filed against Riegel, the Town enlisted CIRSA (Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency) to investigate the Mayor and the trustees for potential misconduct and conflicts of interest. In addition, and as part of CIRSA’s services to the Town, Sam Light, General Counsel has been invited to conduct ethics training and advise on liability issues in late December.

Trustee Cassandra Foxx was unanimously appointed by fellow trustees to serve as Mayor until the next election. Trustee Brian Morgan has also resigned his position.