A water tap and a contentious Longmont City Council meeting are at the center of a lawsuit against the city filed in November.
Robert Gourley, who lives in Longmont, asked council in October to approve changing a residential water tap in Hygiene to a commercial water tap so he could construct an indoor marijuana grow at 7593 Hygiene Road.
The question about Hygiene came about because the water tap ties into Longmont's existing system and Longmont law says council can offer a water tap outside of city limits if there is a clear benefit to Longmont residents.
Gourley's representatives argued before council that the marijuana grow would offer jobs in the area and would not negatively impact the unincorporated area of Hygiene because they would use air filters and other measures to control odor.
Hygiene residents and business owners pleaded with the council to not allow the water tap classification change because they didn't want to see a marijuana business in that area. In the end, the council sided against Gourley and denied the change on a vote of 4-1.
Mayor Dennis Coombs dissented on the vote to deny the change and council members Brian Bagley and Joan Peck were absent.
In November, Gourley filed a lawsuit against the council, alleging that the council was swayed by the anti-marijuana business testimony and their refusal to reclassify the water tap amounts to prohibiting him from using his property the way it is zoned in Boulder County.
"Swayed by the testimony of individuals who do not live within their city, the Council grossly abused their discretion by usurping the authority of Boulder County to effectively ban all commercial use on the property in order to prohibit one specific use," Gourley's lawyer, Trevor McGarvey, wrote in the complaint.
Gourley is appealing to the Boulder County District Court to overturn the council's decision and award Gourley damages.
Gourley said he couldn't comment extensively on the suit while it works its way through the court.
Longmont spokesman Rigo Leal said the city had not been "properly served" with the paperwork and couldn't comment on the suit.
"The city is aware of a complaint filed on this issue but not of any properly served lawsuit against the city," Leal said. "From our perspective, nothing has occurred because we haven't been notified properly."
Gourley is also behind a three-month-old website called LegalizeLongmont.com. He said the purpose of the site is to convince the city government and the City Council that most Longmont residents would like to see marijuana businesses allowed within city limits.
Although there are two dispensaries on the edge of Longmont city limits, city law bans retail marijuana establishments.
Gourley pointed out that 58 percent of Longmont residents supported Amendment 64 in 2014.
"It was voted in legally but the City Council of Longmont has withdrawn it when the people voted it in," Gourley said. "So the City Council is very conservative ... they're making decisions for the City Council and not for the people."
In 2016, Longmont residents in favor of medical marijuana pushed back against the council for attempting to regulate home grows. The council also discussed allowing retail marijuana, which some residents supported and some opposed. Council asked staff to research and bring back more information about the effects of allowing retail marijuana.
Additionally, the city received a $567,000 state grant for communities that do not allow retail marijuana.