by Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor.The room was so empty at Monday’s Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, one might have legitimately assumed that a discussion of the budget was on the agenda. That assumption would have been incorrect. Maybe there are a lot of Stanford/Virginia Tech alumni living in Lyons, and they were all glued to their televisions watching the Orange Bowl. More likely, it was just the post-holiday blahs.
Lyons Substation Commander Sgt. Kevin Parker reported that all had been quiet in town during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday week. Not much to report except another (this time small) incident of graffiti over at Lyons Elementary School. Whoever is doing this had better hope that Parker finds them before Trustee LaVern Johnson does; she has about run out of patience with this vandal.
There was a seemingly endless discussion between Mayor Julie Van Domelen, Attorney Tim Cox, Administrator Victoria Simonsen, and several Trustees about whether the first readings of ordinances should be included within the consent agenda, with the ordinances/public hearings (o/ph), or after the o/ph, but before the consent agenda, to avoid the confusion about whether or not the public would be allowed input (which they are not, during first readings). If staff could provide background at first reading, and if so, how detailed, whether or not substantial changes or amendments could be made between first and second readings. How much discussion about said proposed ordinance between Trustees would be allowed at the first reading. Yada, yada, yada.
As it turned out, all these questions, and the discussions that followed, were quite germane, because the item that followed (the first reading of ordinance 891, to amend and streamline the annexation regulations) proved to be quite a thorny proposal indeed. The BOT and the Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) had a workshop about this very issue, just prior to Christmas, and had seemingly come to some sort of accord. But then, in a move that seemed to have taken everyone by surprise except Trustee Ed Bruder, a proposal to do away with the citizens’ right to approve by vote, the annexation of non-residential parcels of greater than five acres, was added to the recommendation for the proposed ordinance. This didn’t sit well with most of the Board. Van Domelen and Trustees Sandy Banta, and Kathy Jacobson all voiced the opinion that they were all for the streamlining of the annexation process, but would not vote to pass the first reading if that particular item were included.
Bruder said that he had indeed brought up the idea during the workshop, and he felt that it didn’t make any difference, because the public could have their opportunity to make their feelings known at the second reading and public hearing, which he insisted was the way these things normally worked. But the rest of the Board felt that this would be a “hot button” item for many in the community, and Van Domelen feared that by adding it to the ordinance at the last minute without public input, “would make it seem like we are trying to slide something by the public during the Christmas lull.” And so it went, back and forth, with everyone including staff getting involved. In the end, a motion was made and seconded to pass the ordinance, without the offending passage, on first reading in a 6-0 (Trustee Kirk Udovich was out of town) vote. Bruder, very reluctantly, went along.
The consent agenda, consisting of the December 20 BOT meeting minutes and the December accounts payable was passed without much fanfare or discussion. Van Domelen then recused herself from the next agenda item (designating, for the purpose of legal notices, the official newspaper for the Town of Lyons) and left the room. Since Mayor Pro Tem Udovich was not present, that left the running of the meeting in the able hands of third-stringer Trustee Carroll. She handled her duties with aplomb and grace, and The Lyons Recorder was so designated in a 5-0 vote.
In a different, and unrelated, annexation item, the Trustees were enthusiastically behind the Economic Development Committee’s recommendation to adopt a six-month “incentive” period (January to June 30, 2011) to allow businesses and landowners currently in the Lyons Planning Area, but not located within the Town of Lyons to petition for annexation. This incentive program would defer some fees, drastically cut others (by as much as $17,500), and the speed up the time frame needed for annexation. Economic Development Manager Jacque Watson reported that there were currently about 15 properties that would be eligible to participate, many of whom have expressed interest. These incentives would very quickly lead to a significant increase in the sales tax revenues, property values, etc., and would offset any loss of fee revenue. Plus it is in line with the Comprehensive Plan for development of commercial properties along the eastern corridor.
A discussion and motion to approve a stipulation agreement between the Town of Lyons and the City of Longmont concerning alternate points of diversion in the St. Vrain and its tributaries ensued. What this basically comes down to is Longmont wants permission to use, in the event of a break in their current infrastructure, the currently non-used Lyons diversion dam at the top of Apple Valley. Lyons would not give up any water rights, nor would it lose ownership of said diversion dam, nor would it preclude any future use of the dam by the Town of Lyons if they so desired, but Longmont would take over the responsibility of maintenance and upkeep of the dam. Simonsen recommended approval of the agreement, and the Board listened and obeyed. And in what amounted to a house-cleaning chore mandated by the State of Colorado, the Trustees, after a short discussion, approved a motion to adopt the salaries and wages for Town Staff per the 2011 budget.
There wasn’t much to report (due to the holidays) during the Trustee reports, although the Mayor did appoint a few people to various boards, committees, and commissions, and Trustee Carroll, still aglow from her turn with the gavel, mentioned that the Sustainable Futures Committee would be holding a “How to use your Eco-Bus Pass” (or how to ride the bus) at the Walt Self Senior Center on January 18 (time to be determined). During Staff reports, Simonsen noted that the Town had just received a $10,000 grant for a wastewater feasibility study (to look at the options of: keeping the plant where it is, moving it to the east of town, or hooking into the Longmont system). She also informed the Board that just that day, officials from Lyons Valley Park had called her to discuss the possibility of starting construction for 18 building lots near the high school. These two tidbits of news sent everyone home with a smile on their faces.