Developer Mickey Zeppelin says he isn't a public official and did not violate any law by discussing the location of a grow facility in the River North neighborhood, where he's a major property owner.
Last Thursday Dan Emmans, owner of Grass Roots Health and Wellness Center, filed notice of his intent to sue Zeppelin, current councilwoman Judy Montero and former councilwoman/now Zeppelin consultant Susan Barnes-Gelt for disclosing the location of his grow. A draft of the lawsuit charges that Zeppelin repeatedly made the grow's location public, both during news interviews as well as when he was discussing the property during Denver City Council committee meetings.
"There isn't any real substance to the lawsuit," Zeppelin says. "His basic complaint is based on the fact that the locations are supposed to be not disclosed. But ... that is only with regard to public officials."
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Under state law, the locations of grows are exempt from the Colorado Open Records Act; "state and local licensing authorities shall keep the location of an optional premises cultivation operation confidential and shall redact the location from all public records."
Zeppelin denies Emmans's allegations that he continually contacted Emmans's landlord and harassed Emmans. He also denies that he and Montero have a financial relationship, noting that while he developed the property, he does not own the TAXI building where Montero has her city council office space.
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Zeppelin, who is not shy about noting his opposition to growhouses in the area, says that that growers took advantage of a loophole in the old zoning code and did so knowing they didn't have the right permits to remain open under the zoning code adopted last year. On Tuesday night, councilmembers will decide whether to grandfather in growhouses established in areas that were originally zoned for commercial use but are now prohibited under the city's new code.
The threatened lawsuit, Zeppelin says, is nothing more than a political move by growers angry over Denver's proposed ordinance changes. "I am a lawyer, and looking through it, there is no breach of contract, there is no anything," he adds. "It is someone who is having some financial problems and is trying to find a scapegoat." For more of out cannabis coverage, go to the Marijuana archives.