Town Board Meeting: October 22, 201817 min read
TL;DR: Signs, signs, and more signs! In public comment at the October 22 Town Board meeting, Trustee Candidate Dalton Valette proposed a town-wide ban on political signs. Later, there was a public hearing to approve an increase in the number and size of signage for Superior Medical Center, which passed unanimously. The Board also passed amendments to the 2018 budget, but did not approve a construction contract for pond equalization at the Waste Water Treatment Plant – since the scope was changed after the initial RFP, the Board chose to send the project out for re-bid.
Happy Monday, neighbors! Can you believe there’s only one more week till Election Day? I’m definitely nervous – with no polling for our local Trustee race, there’s no real way to guess who’s going to win. I’m very hopeful that I’ve demonstrated my qualifications for the role of Trustee and my commitment to the community, but we’ll see what happens next Tuesday. If you support my campaign, please like my Facebook page, and consider emailing / texting this blog post to a friend or two with a note encouraging them to vote for me. In just a week, I look forward to hopefully representing you on the Board myself – and as your Trustee, I will pledge to continue being just as transparent and communicative throughout my tenure, earning your trust every day.
Onto the meeting recap…
Trustee Sandy Pennington gave some advice to the new Trustees who will be sitting on the Board in just three weeks:
“I’ve watched with interest as you’ve campaigned and you’ve prepared for a seat up here. You’ve been sometimes forced into corners by the questions that residents have asked of you. Know that, once you come up here, none of that matters. When you come up here, you’re going to be given tons of new information that you don’t have access to right now. With that new information, hopefully you’ll be thinking about your former positions on topics in a much different fashion. Don’t be hesitant to accept that and go with it. It’s a new slate once you’re up here in this seat. Your job is to weigh what’s best for the whole community.”
During Mayor Clint Folsom’s report, he announced that Heather Cracraft will be leaving her position at the Superior Chamber for a role in CU’s athletic department. While I’m very excited for Heather in her new role, I’m sad that we’ll be losing her as executive director of the Chamber – she’s been a wonderful connector for countless residents and businesses in Superior.
Sheriff Chamberlin gave an update on the arson incidents that have taken place on Castle Peak (my street!). This summer, there were three fires set next to the back decks of homes; this fall, someone entered a home in the middle of the night, took cushions off the couch, put them in the middle of the stairs, and lit them on fire – while the residents of the home were upstairs sleeping. This is a horrific incident, and one that I’ve been terrified by ever since it happened, so I was happy to see that we would be getting an update. Unfortunately, the update wasn’t very satisfying.
Sheriff Chamberlin said that while there are persons of interest in these four incidents, there is no suspect; just persons of interest. Trustee Mark Lacis and Mayor Folsom both asked further questions – about how the intruder gained entry into the house, and whether the boy filmed on a Ring camera trying to break into another home a few days later was involved. Sheriff Chamberlin said that there was no forced entry into the home, and that the Ring video incident is being treated as a separate investigation that may or may not be related. He could not say more without compromising the investigation – which is understandable, but also disappointing.
Trustee Kevin Ryan expressed a concern about the original smoke detectors in Richmond homes – and that as they start beeping in the middle of the night toward the end of their life, he’s heard many people have ripped them out. Chief Pelle said that if you ever have a problem with your smoke alarm, you can call the Fire Department and they will come help you figure out what to do. Trustee Pennington requested that we include some reminders to change your smoke alarms in the Superior Sentinel.
During public comment, Trustee Candidate Dalton Valette called for the Town to prohibit the use of campaign signs for future elections. I do agree with Candidate Valette that the signs are unsightly and annoying, and they’ve also been the most expensive part of mounting a campaign. I spent over $1,200 on signs, which was very frustrating to me since they don’t serve any purpose for the community other than getting my name out there. In comparison, my Sunday Sundaes series, which I held again this week for very limited cost, allows me to meet residents and speak with them in person, while also promoting our parks and giving the community an opportunity to come together. This weekend, I got to meet a neighbor at my sundae event who used to live in my house before I bought it! What a small world 🙂
However, I consider campaign signs to be a necessary evil during election season. Although I have focused my campaign on digital advertising, not everyone is on Facebook and there’s no way to ensure that I can reach all voters with my message. While my signs may not be as beautiful as unimpeded open space, they are an important tool in exercising my right to free speech, and encouraging people to check out my website and make smart, informed decisions when filling out their ballots. (P.S. I do love my runner girl on my signs and hope you do too!)
Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees – in 1994, the Court struck down a Missouri city law prohibiting signs in the yards of residents. In this unanimous decision, the Court wrote that yard signs are “a venerable means of communication that is both unique and important.” While this ruling was about private residences, it has been applied successfully in lower courts to challenge city bans on yard signs in public places. I’m not a lawyer (I’ll leave that to Trustee Lacis and Candidate Valette himself, who is a law student), but I would be concerned that if we tried to ban political signs our Town could get into a lot of legal hot water.
On the consent agenda, Town Staff drafted an amendment to an agreement with Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management (HMM), with whom we have partnered (along with Broomfield, Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, and Erie) to provide residents with an environmentally safe method of disposing of hazardous materials. The new agreement moves to an annual rather than quarterly payment schedule, and includes a 5% increase in the fee to cover equipment and building needs. HMM’s fees are based on our proportional use of the facility compared to partner communities, and Superior residents’ use of the facility has been increasing, so I agree with the recommendation of our Advisory Committee for Energy Stability (ACES) to continue participating in this program and fund the Town’s portion of associated costs. More details here.
The Board unanimously voted to approve items A-J on the consent agenda (except for item H, which was discussed separately). In addition to the HMM amendment above, these included approval of various minutes, a proclamation for “Extra Mile Day”, manager changes at Chuck E Cheese and Old Chicago, the appointment of Howard Fischer to ACES, and raises for Town Manager Matt Magley and Town Attorney Kendra Carberry.
Wastewater Treatment Plant Equalization Pond
After the blanket approvals, Trustee Ryan asked the board to separately consider item H – the adoption of a resolution approving a contract to build a Wastewater Treatment Plant Equalization Pond. Public Works and Utilities Director Alex Ariniello presented four bids, ranging from $910K to $2.06M; all of these bids were well over the initial budget of $550K. To stay under budget, the Town reduced the scope of a project to a smaller pond, and then asked only the lowest bidder (Fischer Construction) to provide a new bid, which came in at $530K.
Trustee Ryan expressed concerns with only soliciting a rebid from one contractor when there was such a dramatic change in scope, and I share his concerns with the process. Just because Fischer came in the lowest on the original scope of work does not mean they would be the lowest bidder on the new scope of work. (And all of this also ignores the fact that we may not want to just go with the lowest bidder, and may want to consider qualitative factors as well.)
Utilities Superintendent Jim Widner spoke to how the scope was reduced, and also noted that he’s previously worked with Fischer Construction and found them to be good to work with. Trustee Ryan praised the fact that we are considering past experience; however, he pointed out that there is a flaw in our procurement process if we didn’t start with a public bid of the final scope and include previous experience as a criterion in the RFP.
Trustee Lacis agreed, and also expressed a concern about whether it was proper to reduce the scope of work. Trustee Lacis wanted to make sure we aren’t just putting a bandaid on the problem because of budget, and that we truly are okay with the smaller scope. Superintendent Widner responded that the Town consulted with engineer Dave Takeda from MSK Consulting, and feels confident that the reduced scope will be a sufficient solution – and will also be less expensive to update / maintain in the future. This all sounds great, but still begs the question… why did we originally plan for it to be larger? I am disappointed that there was no real clarity given to what we are losing by reducing the scope. (And the vague explanation here does not suffice.) As Trustee Hammerly neatly summarized, if we are able to cut the scope in half, we are either not accomplishing our goals or we originally planned incorrectly.
The Board also discussed concerns with delaying the work to rebid. A six week delay is not one-for-one; if the work is not completed before winter, it could be delayed significantly longer while we wait for the right conditions. In the meantime, as Mayor Folsom pointed out, residents have been complaining about the smells from the wastewater treatment plant for a long time. However, Trustee Lacis pointed out that the smells are primarily an issue in the summertime, so delaying from, say, December to March, likely wouldn’t have that much adverse impact. The Board ultimately decided to hold on adopting this resolution, and send the smaller-scoped project out for re-bid.
Increased Signage for Superior Medical Center
The Board heard a presentation from Benjamin Rosenfeld of HSRE Superior (and Vice President of Development for Pacific Medical Buildings). HSRE is the owner / manager of Superior Medical Center, and is requesting an increase in both number and size of the signs on their buildings. In all, Superior Medical Center is asking for three new signs on the West/South sides of the building, and two new signs on the North/West sides of the building, plus five new signs on the North and East sides of the garage. The new signs would be a mix of “Superior Medical Center” signs and tenant signs. Full details of the requested signage are available here.
Vice President Rosenfeld said that patients have increased choice in healthcare, which has made branding and customer experience paramount. When people are sick and stressed with trying to find a doctor, it’s important to have signing and branding that makes wayfinding easy. Superior Medical Center is the first healthcare facility in Superior; the building is only 43% leased, but there is a well-known healthcare system who is interested in leasing space. The building will have 130 employees, and projects 85,000 total visits by 65,000 unique patients – and the hope is that these employees and patients will bring more business to Downtown Superior.
The requested signs would be for Touchstone Medical Imaging, Cornerstone Orthopedics, and the undisclosed healthcare system mentioned above. Joe Hsin from Cornerstone Orthopedics discussed how having Touchstone and Cornerstone close together allows them to provide faster and more holistic care. He believes that the partnership can help Superior to become a destination for health and wellness (particularly in such close proximity to the Sports Stable). This integrative health model is trending, and is similar to what Avista Hospital is trying to do in becoming a destination for breast health.
Tyler Rauenzahn, Vice President of Operations for Touchstone, agreed that signage is important, and noted that he’s been working with the Planning Commission to identify ways to illuminate their signs to make wayfinding easy, without disturbing residents with the light. Two days after hearing concerns from residents about the lights, VP Rosenfeld noted that they voluntarily began turning the lighted signs off 30 minutes after the close of business, in an attempt to be a good neighbor.
After hearing concerns about the number and size of the signs, VP Rosenfeld said they reduced the size of all Tier 1 and Tier 2 signs (from 80 to 60 square feet and 50 to 35 square feet, respectively), and got rid of two parking structure signs. They also took the suggestion of the Planning Committee to reach out to CDOT about potentially changing the highway 36 signs to make clear that Superior Medical Center is at this exit – this is in progress.
Trustee Ryan asked about coordination with the Master Developer for the Town Center around signage. VP Rosenfeld replied that Bill Jencks of Ranch Capital is working on a master plan, but that his signs are in line with what Mr. Jencks is expecting.
Trustee Lacis pointed out that the number of signs is going from six to sixteen (increasing by ten), and none of the ten will comply with the design guidelines – the tenant signs are all 35 square feet and the Superior Medical Center signs are 60 square feet, whereas the maximum size in the design guidelines is 25 square feet. However, Town Staff countered in their memo that the location and use of Superior Medical Center is unique, due to its highway visibility and the urgent nature of visits to a medical office vs typical office.
Trustee Pennington focused on the complaints that came up at the Planning Commission meeting: that Louisville residents were disturbed by how bright the existing urgent care sign is. VP Rosenfeld again emphasized that the sign used to be lit all night; immediately after the Planning Commission meeting on September 18th, they responded to complaints by ensuring that it would only be lit for about three hours a day (at dusk until 30 minutes after closing).
Trustee Lacis asked when the need for more signs was identified, and why this is being requested as an amendment rather than as part of the original plan. VP Rosenfeld said that every tenant has been asking for more signage, and it’s becoming more important in healthcare in general. As far as why this was a delayed ask, Sawtooth Development was the original developer; Pacific Medical Buildings took over the project and realized more signs were needed in light of the proximity to 36 (which is causing tenants to request more signage).
During public comment, Trustee Candidate Theresa Clark noted that the toughest part of wayfinding is for people to identify the entrance to the building. Candidate Clark pointed out that if the building itself were clearly labeled as Superior Medical Center, a smaller marquis sign could be put at the actual entrance with tenant names – rather than putting all the tenant signs on the outside of the building. I thought this was a great suggestion, and would also strengthen the branding of Superior Medical Center as a whole entity, rather than promoting individual tenants. If Superior Medical Center is trying to be positioned as an integrated one-stop-shop medical center, this approach would certainly help.
Finally, the Board discussion began. Trustee Ryan noted that from his experience in healthcare, signage really matters – but he wished that this decision could be made in tandem with seeing Ranch Capital’s master plan for signage. I agree with this, and think it further underscores the point I have been emphasizing throughout campaign season: our Town and Board need to get ahead of things and be more proactive in planning. We need to update our 2012 Comprehensive Plan, and also create a master plan for Transportation so that decisions like closing Weldona or extending/capping Coal Creek Drive are not made in a vacuum.
Trustee Lacis said that while he understands the drawbacks of adding signage, and also is disappointed that we couldn’t figure this out earlier in the planning process, he thinks the application is warranted.
Trustee Hammerly said she doesn’t have a concern with the signs; she is more concerned with how people can get into the building. She wants the developer to work with tenants to make sure that there is a good customer experience. Furthermore, she’s disappointed that our design guidelines say that all lights must go out 30 minutes after closing and yet we are not enforcing this; she wants our Town Staff to ensure that we are monitoring compliance with the design guidelines going forward.
Trustee Pennington asked about time sensitivity of the request, especially for new tenants. She said that she is inclined to approve this tonight, but wants to see signage as a Board Retreat / Work Session topic, to ensure that signage is more consistent in the Town Center going forward. Town Planner Steven Williams addressed her questions that he is happy with look and feel of this application, and would support its approval.
Mayor Folsom said that he thinks this is an opportunity to enhance Superior’s presence as a medical destination. While he is sensitive to making exceptions to our guidelines, he believes it’s the job of the Board to evaluate on a case-by-case basis. If we weren’t ever going to make any exceptions, there wouldn’t be a need for the Board to exist.
Trustee Lacis made a motion to approve the amendment and allow the signage; it was seconded by Trustee Pennington, and passed unanimously.
Finance Director Paul Nilles presented several proposed amendments to the General, Open Space, and Capital Improvement funds – these would revise the 2018 budget numbers to align with the actual revenues / expenses incurred in 2018. Full details of the proposed changes are here.
Trustee Candidate Ken Lish expressed frustration over the extra expenses for Tract H as part of the Open Space Fund. He noted that Tract H was not designated a priority by the Open Space Advisory Committee, . However, Trustee Ryan noted that this ought to be reimbursed by the TIF (tax-increment financing – where taxes from the Superior Town Center are ). Director Nilles agreed; he is planning to submit a reimbursement request for all expenses associated with Tract H, in order to make a future accounting adjustment from TIF dollars back into the Open Space Fund.
The motions to approve these budget changes were unanimously approved.
Executive Session with Town Attorney Regarding 1500 Coalton Road
Finally, the Board ended the night by going into executive session with Attorney Carberry to discuss 1500 Coalton Road – the Land Rover dealership that was recently leased to a car dealership, even though the original 1998 agreement with Land Rover requires that it go back to Community Activity Center (CAC) zoning if Land Rover were to vacate. Trustee Ryan brought up this issue in the October 8 meeting, and I’m happy to see the Board taking action on it so quickly. While it will be unfortunate for the new tenant to have to move so soon after taking occupancy, they should never have been allowed to lease the space from Land Rover (without at least getting a zoning amendment from the Board, which I doubt the Board would have approved). I am eager to hear what actions result from this executive session.