By Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor.Perhaps it was the crisp fall-like weather, or maybe it was the added day of rest, but Tuesday night’s (Monday was Labor Day) Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting was fast paced. The presentations were concise and the discussions were to the point. As is said in a good Sherlock Holmes story, “everything moved along apace.”
Sgt. Kevin Parker of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office reported that although the town was busy over Labor Day Weekend, things were very slow from his perspective. He asked that his time be allotted to a couple of representatives from the Boulder County Fire Protection District and Boulder County Open Space, who reported to the Board that they would be doing controlled burns in the Hall Ranch area later this fall. During audience business, Lyons resident David Gouge discussed the Town’s policy of having landlords be ultimately responsible for paying renters’ utility bills. Gouge explained that it was tricky for the property owner to make sure all debts were up to date upon the renter vacating the premises (state law requires landlords to return deposits within 30 days), and therefore withhold the proper amount from a security/damage deposit if the Town put the renter on a payment schedule for arrears. He suggested that the property owner should be informed in the event the renter falls behind in his or her utility payments, and he also suggested that the Town hold the renter’s utility deposit until the contract is over (the Town now returns the deposit after one year of service) to ensure full payment is met by the renter. The Board agreed that these measures seemed reasonable, and instructed Staff to get together with Gouge and discuss it for a later agenda.
The Trustees, acting as the local liquor licensing authority, then held a public hearing and approved a special event permit (to sell beer in Bohn Park) for First Descents, in conjunction with the Devil Dash 5K race event, which will be held on Saturday, October 8. The consent agenda, containing the August 15 BOT meeting minutes and the August accounts payables, was passed. As was a resolution to “get the ball rolling” for a possible annexation of the “Madhava Honey” lot. According to Town Planner Danna Ortiz, Grace Design (a sound/audio design company) is in negotiations to purchase the property, and annexation into the Town of Lyons is a desired part of the deal. A request by the Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife and Colorado State University to conduct a research project on the effects of whitewater parks on aquatic resources (they want to see if the fish are able to negotiate the man-made features that have been added to the river in Meadow Park) was also approved.
The Trustees heard the recommendations on design guidelines for the Commercial Eastern Corridor (CEC), now to be referred to as the “Gateway Corridor” (GC) much to the delight of Trustee LaVern Johnson. These recommendations were put together by a subcommittee made up of members of the Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC), the Sustainable Futures Commission (SFC), and the Economic Development Commission (EDC). The recommendation concern landscaping, lighting, multi-model uses (cars, trucks, bikes, pedestrian, and golf carts), sustainability, and residential site design. So, the PCDC, EDC, and the SFC reported to the BOT that the CEC will now be referred to as the GC. The BOT then passed a resolution supporting DRCOG’s application to HUD for a sustainable communities regional planning grant. Phew, you need a program just to keep track of the acronyms!
During Trustee reports, things started to get a little contentious, or as they say at the U.S. State Department, “it was frank and open discussion.” Trustee Ed Bruder, saying he was disturbed that the PCDC hadn’t held any meetings during the month of August, and that Planner Ortiz had subsequently billed the Town for travel and time, questioned the leadership of PCDC Chairman Jeff Cornell. Bruder further asserted (from information he requested from Administrator Victoria Simonsen) that there had been no PCDC meetings held from July of 2010, to January of 2011. He further characterized the PCDC as a “run away train” and intimated that during the time they should have been working on the CEC regulations to go along with the Town’s annexation stimulus package, they were spending all their time on medical marijuana.
This did not sit well with Mayor Julie Van Domelen. She defended Cornell, saying that he had in fact informed the Board that he was dealing with a family medical issue, and would be required to travel out of the country on business over the coming months, and had therefore asked to resign from the PCDC, but would try to continue in his duties until a replacement could be found. She characterized Bruder’s statements as a “personal attack” and questioned his decision to carry it out in this forum. The Mayor asked if Bruder had discussed this with Cornell; Bruder said no. Van Domeln asked if he had discussed this with PCDC Vice Chair Michelle Allen; Bruder again said no. She then asked if he had discussed this with PCDC liaison Kirk Udovich; again the answer was no, although Bruder did say he had given Udovich a heads up that morning that he would be bringing the issue up at the meeting. Van Domelen then asked Bruder if he had also requested the attendance records of any of the other PCDC members, or any of the other Chairs of the other various commissions and committees that serve the Town. Bruder said no.
Udovich questioned the accuracy of Bruder’s statement that no meetings were held during the six months in question, claiming he had attended many meetings. Simonsen informed the Board that these were actually “workshops,” and she distanced herself from the fray by noting that this issue was entirely at Bruder’s request, and she felt that, “Cornell had a very good attendance record.” Udovich then questioned why if he was informed that there wouldn’t be meetings held in August, Planner Ortiz wasn’t informed. He seemed to think it was more a Staff communication problem than a PCDC leadership problem. He also backed Cornell saying, “He runs a good meeting.” Trustee LaVern Johnson piped up, “I think Jeff Cornell is an asset to the community.” Trustee Kathy Carroll then weighed in asking Bruder, “Everything withstanding, what are you driving at?” Van Domelen agreed, telling Bruder, “We have a system in place for removing a person from a committee, do you want to make a motion to do so?” Bruder remained mum. Looking like a man out on a limb all by himself sawing away like mad, Bruder reluctantly let the matter die without any measure (but plenty of action) being taken.
The Board then went into executive session to discuss a potential real estate transaction. Upon reconvening the BOT directed Staff to look into hiring a land use lawyer.