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 an evening that was described as “mostly house keeping” by Town Clerk Deb Anthony, the Board of Trustees (BOT) put on a unified front Tuesday night (Monday was the New Year’s holiday) and passed every measure, except one, by a unanimous 7 – 0 vote.The consent agenda, consisting of the December 19 meeting minutes, and the December accounts payable, was passed without any discussion. Also passed were an ordinance to transfer a water share of the Colorado Big Thompson Water Project (acquired by the Town as a result of the Whipp annexation last year), from “temporary” to “permanent” status, and a resolution designating the Lyons Recorder as the “paper of record” for legal notices (this passed 6 – 0, when Mayor Julie Van Domelen recused herself [see disclaimer above] from the discussion and vote, citing a conflict of interest). A resolution determining that the upcoming April election will be held as a mail-in ballot, and an ordinance, put forth by a group of concerned citizens to ban all medical marijuana businesses within the Town of Lyons, was officially put on the ballot for the said April election.
The Board could have elected to pass the ordinance themselves, but when Van Domelen called for a motion to do so, not a peep was heard from any quarter.
Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen introduced Jeremy Matsen, a new intern for the Town, who was starting his first day on the job at this meeting. Matsen is enrolled in a public administration program at C.U. – Denver, and is part of a two-year intern program financed by the Department of Local Affairs, which will pay for his salary and benefits during the internship. Simonsen informed the Board that Matsen will rove from department to department on a quarterly basis in order to give him the broadest exposure to all facets of public administration. He will also be tasked to take on and assist on certain special projects, when they arise.
There was a lengthy discussion concerning the future of the so-called “five acre annexation vote.” Currently, there is an ordinance on the books which requires the approval by a vote by the citizens of any annexation of a parcel of land into the Town of five acre or more. Apparently this was adopted by a BOT in September of 2000, after an “advisory” vote by the citizens who were concerned with the mushrooming of residential development that was occurring at that time. Some citizens in town now feel that this “vote measure” has hindered economic development on the non-residential side of the equation, thus adversely affecting the sales tax base for the Town.
Van Domelen suggested to the Board that they had three options: do nothing, and leave everything as it is; discuss among themselves, with input from the public, the Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC), and the Economic Development Commission (EDC) in order to cue up an ordinance that they would themselves pass; or put an ordinance on the April ballot. Everyone agreed that the “climate” has changed over the last twelve years. Housing starts are way down, most available tracts of land larger than five acres have been gobbled up by Boulder County Open Space, and the ratio of residential to non-residential zones is not sustainable for the long-term economic health of the town.
However, no one was particularly eager to take an action that might be viewed as “taking away the rights of the citizens.” Trustee LaVern Johnson seemed at first to be of the mind to do nothing, but later in the discussion joined Trustees Kirk Udovich, Cathy Carroll, Cathy Jacobson, and Mayor Van Domelen as they wrestled with the pros and cons of passing an ordinance themselves or putting the issue to a public vote. Trustee Sandy Banta was firmly in the “put it to a vote” camp, while Trustee Ed Bruder leaned more toward adding some significant language (excluding non-residential properties, and making environmental/economic impact studies mandatory for all parcel over five acres instead of the current ten acres) to the existing ordinance so as to alleviate the fears of massive residential projects. He also noted that the current efforts of the PCDC to come up with design standards and site plan reviews (and the required public hearings) for all future development within the town would add another layer of safeguard to quell the fear of unrestrained growth. This was an interesting turn around on all sides, since late last summer or early fall, when Bruder expressed his and the EDC’s desire to put the “five acre” issue to a public vote, he got no support from anyone on the Board, and now he was advocating a change in the ordinance, and everyone else wants to put it on the ballot.
In the end, because time is running out to get something on the April ballot, it was decided to direct Staff to get input from the PCDC and EDC, draft an ordinance, and schedule a first reading for the January 17 (Monday, January 16 is Martin Luther King Day). A second reading and public hearing will be scheduled for a special January 30 meeting, at which time, the Board will make the decision on whether to adopt the ordinance themselves, or put it on the April ballot.
Since everyone had been enjoying the holidays, few of the Trustees had anything to report. Simonsen announced that RTD will begin bus service to and from Longmont/Lyons in the next few days. The eastbound buses will arrive in Longmont at approximately 7:45 and 8:45 a.m., and the westbound buses will depart Longmont at approximately 4:45 and 5:45 p.m. The route will go through Hygiene, and pass along the Amgem and Seagate facilities on their way to and from Longmont. For more details about specific times and start dates, you can contact RTD. Van Domelen also proclaimed that January was “Radon Action Month” in Lyons, and noted that over 50% of the tested homes in Boulder County have radon levels that exceed EPA recommendations. For information about inexpensive radon testing kits (under $25) residents are advised to contact Boulder County.