Trespass ordinance passes |

Trespass ordinance passes

New law approved without contention

Susan Ghysels

Craig city Council members discussed the constitutionality of a trespass ordinance before approving modifications to it at their meeting Tuesday evening.

Under the new ordinance, business owners and managers will have an easier time banning people from their property.

The modifications are necessary to reinforce the rights of business owners to control who can be on their property, said City Attorney Sherman Romney.

The new ordinance includes an addition that “a business owner or manager has the right to refuse service to any person for any lawful reason … A place of business, while open to the public, is private property and no patron or guest upon that property has rights except as authorized by the owner, manager or person in charge or control of that property.”

Council members asked Romney about a letter from Hayden attorney Mark J. Fischer, which urged the Council not to pass the ordinance and questioned the its constitutionality. In the letter Fischer wrote, “Our Colorado Constitution states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” According to Fischer, the ordinance infringes on the constitutional rights of the public.

“I don’t think that (section of the Colorado constitution) applies to people who don’t own that property,” Romney said. “I want to reassure you that what we’re doing isn’t in any way unconstitutional,” he said.

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The ordinance states that business owners must give the person they want to ban a written trespass notice and must have a lawful reason to do so. Discrimination is not a lawful reason.

Romney told Council members that the ordinance could legally have gone further and given owners more rights. The discrimination clause isn’t necessary and Colorado state law places no restrictions on private property and gives owners absolute power, he said.

No members of the public commented on the ordinance, and the Council passed it unanimously.

Council members also approved a contract with DHM Design to work on the city’s parks and recreation master plan.

DHM will do an assessment to determine what the residents of Craig really want from parks and recreation, said Dave Pike, Parks and Recreation Department director. The assessment will include a survey mailed to residents, along with public hearings and meetings, and potentially a way for people to make comments through the city’s Web site.

Council member Don Jones said the city needs to make sure it implements the assessment, unlike one done in 1983 that was never used.

“Once this is done, we can’t put this book on the shelf,” he said.

Pike expects the master plan to cost $60,000 or less, most of which will be paid for by a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant.

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