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Centennial Citizen Arapahoe County, Colorado • Volume 11, Issue 52 November 16, 2012 A Colorado Community Media Publication Area drug task force disbands Economy takes toll after 27 years By Rhonda Moore The economy caught up with a regional drug task force in place for nearly 30 years, leading to the dissolution of the South Metro Drug Task Force. The task force dissolved after nearly 27 years of street-level drug enforcement in a decision officials call difficult but well-considered. The Arapahoe and Douglas sheriff’s offices announced the decision to disband the regional task force Nov. 8, about two months after the board voted to dissolve the unit that was the primary narcotics agency for Douglas, Arapahoe and Elbert counties. Robinson About 14 agencies participated in the task force, providing resources that included officers who primarily served as undercover agents paid for by local taxpayers, federal grants and asset forfeiture seizures. At its peak, about 10 agents, a sergeant and commander from the Douglas and Arapahoe sheriff’s offices provided the lion’s share of the resources to the task force, with staff contributions from the participating police departments, said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson. Robinson served as the chairman of the task force board. In July, when dissolution discussions began, the task force was made up of seven agents, a sergeant and commander, with contributing officers from the Littleton, Parker, Englewood and Greenwood Village police departments, Robinson said. “The difficulty we had is we’ve never been able to get the resource numbers up Participating agencies: Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office; Castle Rock Police Department; Cherry Hills Police Department; Douglas County Sheriff’s Office; Elbert County Sheriff’s Office; Elizabeth Police Department; Englewood Police Department; Glendale Police Department; Greenwood Village Police Department; Littleton Police Department; Lone Tree Police Department; Parker Police Department; Sheridan Police Department; 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. to a level we would have liked to,” Robinson said. “That’s just life. There are other priorities people need to focus attention on.” Task force continues on Page 11 Drilling rules gain approval City code in step with state law By Deborah Grigsby Firefighters battle a blaze at The Streets at SouthGlenn on Nov. 8. More than 36 personnel from the Littleton, South Metro and Englewood fire departments worked to extinguish the blaze, believed to be started by sparks from a utility saw. Photos by Deborah Grigsby Fire engulfs SouthGlenn building Sparks from construction ignite vacant structure By Deborah Grigsby A fire engulfed a vacant building at The Streets at SouthGlenn, filling the Centennial shopping center with a yellowish, foulsmelling smoke. Doug Ireland, spokesperson for Littleton Fire Rescue, said the department responded to a two-alarm fire at the center at the northeast corner of East Commons Avenue and Gaylord Streets at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 8. Sixteen units and 36 personnel from Littleton, South Metro and Englewood fire departments worked in unison to bring the blaze under control within 90 minutes. “Yeah, I saw the smoke from Arapahoe Road and came over to see what was going on,” said Mark Hefestay, an eyewitness. “Some people I talked to were saying they heard an explosion, and I guess since the building was being demolished for a new store, I’m guessing there might night have been a sprinkler system.” Ireland said the blaze was started by sparks from a utility saw used by construction workers as they cut steel rods on the roof. ABOUT THE SOUTH METRO DRUG TASK FORCE Smoke billows out of a vacant building at The Streets at SouthGlenn on Nov. 8. The two-alarm fire caused businesses on the south side of the shopping center to be evacuated. “The sparks fell through the open roof and ignited a stack of foam insulation panels below,” he said. Businesses on the south side of the shopping center, including Whole Foods, were evacuated as a precaution, due to smoke. “The smoke got so bad we had to leave the area and go inside the theater for a while,” said Margo Franz of Littleton. “My husband has some breathing difficulties and whatever was in the smoke was making my eyes burn.” A construction worker was treated for smoke inhalation on the scene and released. No other injuries were reported. By evening, cleanup crews were back on the site with small front-loading equipment, clearing the water-soaked damage. Media reports and shoppers on the scene say the building was being renovated to make way for a new two-story H&M clothing store. Calls to The Streets at SouthGlenn about the fire were immediately referred to Alberta Development Partners, which did not return calls. Centennial has repealed its moratorium on oil and gas development and replaced it with a set of regulations to permit exploration within the city. With a vote of 8-1, city council authorized modifications to the municipal code making oil and gas exploration and extraction permissible as a limited use activity in all zone districts. City Attorney Bob Widner said the move is not so much one to open up the floodgates for drilling, but rather to flesh out the city’s current codes that do not align with statutory authority. “For example, the state determines whether or not a wellhead is permitted, the local government does not — if we say no they could say yes, as long as (the operator) met the spacing and setback requirements,” said Widner. “So we would be pre-empted as to that location; we need to recognize the state has control over the location issue, which we are doing through this regulation change, bringing ourselves in line with the state law.” City planners said statutory requirements are far more restrictive, and the city’s new regulations are essentially the most it can do without conflicting with the state authority. However, the city can now require potential oil and gas operators to apply for an administrative permit, provide site plans detailing wellhead locations and associated structures, and even produce traffic studies to determine potential impacts of industrial vehicles on the city. Fears of increased drilling activity along the Front Range prompted city council to place a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in July until it could better determine how it would deal with potential operations within the city. The moratorium prompted concerns on both sides of the issue, including environmental and health worries, property devaluation, and the possible perception that the city was no longer open to new business ventures. No drilling permits are pending and no wells currently exist within the city. Widner said the regulation gives the city the ability to push certain requirements on operators to “protect, to the extent we can, the health safety and welfare of our public.” A copy of the new regulations will be posted online at under the “Government” drop-down menu. Printed on recycled newsprint. Please recycle this copy.

Centennial Citizen 111612

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