By Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor.
On the eve of Election Day (Tuesday) the Board of Trustees (BOT) grappled with last minute issues until practically the “witching hour” (midnight, well really about 11:30 p.m.). At issue were an ordinance approving the annexation of the property known as the Vasquez 2 Annexation (the old motel next to the stone yard), an ordinance amending the zoning regulations for the Commercial Eastern Corridor (CEC), a resolution to
approve the Lyons Planning Area (LPA) comprehensive development plan for the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Town of Lyons and Boulder County, and a resolution approving the Lyons CEMEX Area Comprehensive Development Plan for the IGA. Each of the above items was also scheduled to have public hearings, so you knew it was going to be a slog. No one was disappointed, it was! Prior to all of this, there was of course a Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) special meeting to discuss criteria and use by special review triggers for development in the CEC, and come up with recommendations for the BOT, which ran from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
It was also time to say farewell and thank-you to Trustee Kathy Carroll, who after serving on the Board for two terms (four years), decided not to seek re-election. Since Carroll will be out of town for the “turn over meeting” (when the newly elected members will be officially seated), the Mayor took the opportunity to say how much she appreciated Carroll’s service to the community, and allow her a few words. Carroll expressed what an honor it was for her to serve on the Board, how much personal growth she had experienced and, contrary to a certain unnamed cynic’s prediction, how many new friendships she had developed over her stay on the Board. The audience gave her a nice round of applause.
The consent agenda, consisting of the March accounts payables was approved. However, the minutes for the March 19 BOT meeting were tabled until a later date once it was determined (by Trustee Ed Bruder) that a few lines in the minutes had actually been talked about at a workshop prior to the March 19 meeting. The Vasquez 2 Annexation sailed through without any public comment, and passed 7 to 0.
During the public hearing for the amendment of the zoning regulations for the CEC, John Burke, a member of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) spoke eloquently about the need to delay the approval. He spoke of “lack of clarity” and asked, “do you want it now, or do you want it right?” He went further, describing the situation metaphorically, “what you have is a cake that is 45 minutes from coming out of the oven, we’re (the EDC) asking that you let it finish baking.” Basically, he and other members of the EDC are not satisfied with the recommendations that a committee of EDC and PCDC members came up with, and he asked for at least two more weeks to improve the language and clarify the criteria. Local consultant to developers, Chuck Keim, also spoke, and not surprisingly, echoed much of Burke’s sentiments. PCDC member Roger Flynn (speaking as a “private citizen”) spoke, and also not surprisingly felt much different. He didn’t feel the ordinance needed to be much more “business friendly,” in fact he felt it had already come quite a ways in that direction since its initial draft. The Board agreed to give Burke two weeks (until the April 16 meeting) to find the “clarity” he and the EDC are looking for.
The two ordinances and public hearings concerning the IGA with Boulder County, one pertaining to the LPA, and the other pertaining to the CEMEX property, also evoked some passionate responses from the public. Mike Whipp and former Mayor Nick Angelo expressed their concern that a twenty-five year agreement was too long. Angelo pointed out that twenty-five years ago, Eagle Canyon didn’t exist, nor did Stone Canyon or the development near the high school.
Former CEMEX plant manager, Steve Goodrich, and current plant manager ,Shane Wilson were not happy with being the subject of talks between the Town and the County. They complained about not being in the loop, or party to the discussions, and suggested that there had not been an “open dialogue.” They also suggested that there might be grounds for a “taking of property rights.” Mayor Van Domelen took exception to these assertions, and was quick to point out that Goodrich, had indeed been present for at least two meetings between herself, Administrator Simonsen, and Goodrich where the topic had been discussed. She also noted that if CEMEX has any issues with “down zoning or taking of property rights” it would be with the County, since if and when the Town looks at the possible annexation of any CEMEX properties, they would come in as general industrial (the current zone status).
After the public hearing, all the Trustees had a chance to expound on their feelings about the status of the IGA, and all but one agreed with the Mayor that the point of an IGA was to find compromises, and set mutual guidelines for future development. They also agreed that they had gotten far more out of the County than they had originally hoped for. None were happy with the twenty-five year term, but didn’t want it to become a “deal breaker.” The only holdout was Bruder, who has wanted the Board to adopt a harder line with the County since Jump Street. He noted that twenty-five years was “two and a half comp plans (they should be updated every ten years) and twelve and a half Board of Trustee terms! He stated in no uncertain terms that the twenty-five year term was indeed a “deal breaker” for him. Trustee Lavern Johnson asked former County Councilman (now County Attorney) Ben Pearlman if the County might compromise and “meet us in the middle at twenty-two years. Pearlman said he no longer made policy, but was only there to represent the County’s interest. He did say however, that he would pass along the request to the County Council. In the end, the Board voted 6 to 1 (Bruder was the dissenting vote) to have Staff present to the County and table the vote on the LPA/IGA ordinance until the April 16 meeting, and to also table the CEMEX/IGA ordinance until the same meeting (this one passed 7 to 0).
A resolution to approve a supplemental budget, appropriation and revision of the Parks & Recreation budget was delayed until a later date, to see how year-to-date sales tax revenues are trending. It was now after 11 p.m., and the Mayor asked that Trustees email their reports on the morrow. Simonsen advised that the planned community “Bohn Fire” celebration in Bohn Park, slated for Saturday, April 14, might be in jeopardy because of a fire ban recently instituted by the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. She anticipated knowing more by late this week or early next. The meeting was then adjourned.