County seeks to stop Stoner pot party

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 3:19 PM
Partygoers listen to music and smoke marijuana during the annual 4/20 marijuana festival, in Denver's downtown Civic Center Park on April 18.

At the request of upset neighbors, Montezuma County commissioners will seek a court-ordered injunction to stop a bong-a-thon event scheduled for July 31 to Aug. 2 along the West Fork River.

Thirty concerned residents attended Monday's commission meeting to urge legal action against the pot party, which features competitive marijuana smoking and related events.

The Colorado Invitational Bong-a-Thon is expected to exceed county standards for traffic and possibly noise, and therefore requires a high-impact permit, a planning official said.

The county denied the permit last week because the application was incomplete and was not submitted in time to go through the county planning process and public comment period.

However, ticket sales are reportedly available online and neighbors claim organizers have indicated they plan to move forward with the party.

"They are expected 1,200 people, they've built roads and are ready to go," said M.B. McAfee, who has a family cabin near the event. "We're asking the county to seek an injunction to stop the event."

The event is on a 50-acre property owned by Ted Clark, according to county officials, and is accessed off Colorado 145 via County Road 38.5 near Stoner. Neighbor Mitch Martin is worried about the safety of the access road, and the nature of the event.

"That road is on a blind corner, and there is no turn lane," he said. "When people leave who is to say if they will be intoxicated as they pull out onto a busy highway, so my concern is public safety."

Neighbor Doreen Garlid said she is concerned about trash, damage to wetlands, upsetting the family atmosphere, and setting a bad precedent.

"It's frustrating because you denied the permit, but it's still going on," she said.

Mike Fitzgerald lives across the highway from the proposed event.

"I live with my family and children, and I'm concerned about the criminal element of the event," he said. "I care about property rights, but at the same time you are not allowed to do anything that endangers the neighbors."

No one spoke in favor of the event. Chris Jetter, the event organizer, could not be reached.

Commissioners agreed to try and stop the bong-a-thon if evidence, such as ticket sales, indicated it was going forward.

"I move that if we find evidence they plan to break our land-use code we file for an injunction," said commissioner Larry Don Suckla.

The commission then voted 3-0 to direct county attorney John Baxter to seek a court order to stop it. The audience applauded.

The county also discussed whether they have the authority to temporarily close the road, except to residents, to prevent the unpermitted event.

If the event goes forward and is in violation of the land-use code, a summons would be issued, but it's not an arrestable offense, Baxter said. The fine would be up to $1,000.

On Monday, the county road department reported they observed a new driveway being installed off of Road 38.5 to the event property without a driveway permit from the county. At the county's request the worked stopped pending a driveway permit application and approval.