by Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor.
In a meeting that was chock full of discussions that were confusing, convoluted, contentious, and sometimes just plain hard to follow, the Board of Trustees (BOT) did decide to honor the spirit of a letter sent to potential annexees, develop a project scope for the Commercial Eastern Corridor CEC) subcommittee, and agree not to put a sales tax increase initiative on the November ballot; sort of.
Sgt. Kevin Parker, Lyons Substation Supervisor, reported that it had been a relatively quiet Fourth of July weekend. Just a couple of fights outside a local imbibing establishment, which led to arrests for outstanding warrants, and he told the Board that Boulder County had enacted a level two fire ban for the County. No agricultural ditch burning, no outdoor open fires on the ground for cooking or warmth, etc.
But charcoal/gas grill cooking fires on private property, and wood fires inside private homes would be allowed. This led to a discussion about whether charcoal fires would be allowed in Meadow and Bohn Parks, and what the Town ordinances say in general about fires in the park. The park “rules” say no outside grills, gas or charcoal, may be brought into the parks, but the ordinance says otherwise. How does this impact users when they have leased the entire park, i.e. Meadow Park during festivals? What about campfires in the parking field in Bohn Park? Parker basically said if the fire ban were in effect, which he believed would still be the case, no campfires. He suggested staff look into their leasing agreements with Planet Bluegrass to see what the language says, citing the “no alcohol in the parks” which is waived during the festivals.
During audience business, only Wayne Anderson, owner of The Fork Restaurant, spoke. He said he wasn’t complaining, that he “loved Good Old Days,” but he felt the way the beer tent, food vendors, and stage were laid out, it created a “dead space” for his parking area that fronts onto High Street. He couldn’t get deliveries, his customers couldn’t park there, and although his establishment serves beer and food, because of the layout, it felt more “exclusive rather than inclusive.” To top it off, his wife and business partner, Debbie Anderson, received a parking violation ticket for parking on Fifth Avenue while she was working! Talk about insult to injury, yikes!
Town Clerk Deb Anthony purposed a resolution that would automatically tie the Town of Lyons to a Boulder County Sheriff’s fire ban; eliminating the need to pass a resolution of agreement every time a ban is enacted. In light of the two area fires last week, Coffin Top and Blue Mountain (both now out by the way), this didn’t need much discussion, and was passed in a 7-0 vote.
In a very confusing discussion about the 2011 six-month annexation incentive plan, which was passed late last year and several weeks ago extended until December 31, there was a lot of back and forth between Mayor Julie Van Domelen, several Trustees, and Town Staff (Administrator Victoria Simonsen, Planner Danna Ortiz, and Deputy Clerk Jacque Watson; about the only one not weighing in was Attorney Tim Cox, who wasn’t present), about setting precendent, if and when an annexed property owner would hook-up to Town utilities, whether or not the water tap credit was tied to development or annexation, if the infrastructure was not in place how long would it take to get it on line, and how would it be financed. How close the system had to be (500’, 400’, 100’) before property owners would be required to hook-up, how many days notice would be required (90, 60, 30). Would the annexation incentive plan over ride local ordinances, County and/or State regulations, and on and on and on. In the end, the Trustees agreed to honor the spirit and wording of the original letter sent to prospective property owners, which didn’t impose a time frame for hook-up to Town supplied utilities, unless or until the property changed use, was sold, or developed. This led Trustee Ed Bruder to question the fairness to Mike Whipp, owner of the recently annexed Lyons Farmette, who was asked to agree to a hook-up within two years. Whipp who was present, said that he was “a big boy, and could live with his agreement,” but he felt that due to “the uncertain economic times” he would prefer to be treated like everyone else. When Watson informed him that his annexation didn’t become official until tomorrow morning (July 6), Mr. Whipp went on record saying he would ask to have the two year hook-up language removed from his annexation agreement. The Board and Staff seemed agreeable.
The “project scope” for the Planning and Community Development Commission/Economic Development Committee subcommittee on the CEC was reduced and fleshed out. Trustee Kathy Carroll pushed to task the subcommittee to “define concerns and negative impacts by formula businesses that they were worried about,” and Trustee Kathy Jacobson asked that the term “small town character” be reworded to
“Town of Lyons character,” and defined as well. The Mayor asked that the “conditional use” parameters concerning formula businesses be “as transparent and clear as possible.” It was also decided to ask the subcommittee to recommend whether to use “design standards or design guidelines” by the August 1 BOT meeting.
Trustee LaVern Johnson floated the idea of putting a one percent sales tax on the November ballot, to finance things like: promotion of the town, a library district, the Golden Gang, the museum, and Parks & Rec. projects. Trustee Jacobson indicated that she thought there wasn’t enough time to “educate” the public on why the tax increase might be needed, and Trustee Sandy Banta didn’t see how that money would go to needed street and infrastructure improvements, which she felt were the most urgent needs. Van Domelen, never a fan of “earmarked taxes” noted that if any of these projects were deemed necessary during the budget discussions, they could be funded out of the general fund. She added that for Lyons (among the lowest sales tax rate in Boulder County), to have the same rate as Ward was puzzling. She did offer a glimmer of optimism stating that sales tax revenues are up about thirty percent so far for the year. Curiously, despite the fact that at least four Trustees (Bruder, Carroll, Kirk Udovich, and Johnson) expressed support for the idea (five if you include Van Domelen, who said she could go along if the money was not specifically earmarked), no motion to do so was made.
The consent agenda, containing the June 20, BOT meeting minutes and the June accounts payable was passed without too much discussion. Trustees reports and Staff reports were given, and since it was only 9:30 p.m., the group voted to go into executive session to discuss strategies in the ongoing Boulder County Intergovernmental Agreement negotiations.