Town Board Meeting: September 24, 201815 min read
TL;DR: The Board heard a presentation from XCEL Energy on the cause of the recent gas leak on McCaslin, as well as a presentation from OSAC recommending a purchase of one of the 76th Street parcels for Open Space. Urban Green Development presented a final plat site plan for “Superior Shores”, a 91 condo development on Coalton Road adjacent to Bell Flatirons; the Board unanimously approved development.
Happy Monday, neighbors! Last Monday’s Town Board Meeting was the last meeting for Trustee Rita Dozal, who moved to Arizona this week. I’d like to take a moment to thank Trustee Dozal for her service to the Town, and on a personal note, thank her for her support in my campaign to become a Trustee. I met Trustee Dozal at the monthly First Fridays events, where residents have the opportunity to dialogue with Trustees. After I had attended a number of First Fridays and started speaking up whenever I felt I had salient points, Trustees Rita Dozal, Sandy Pennington, and Sandie Hammerly encouraged me to consider joining the Board myself. Trustee Hammerly will still be on the Board after the election, but it’s a tall order to live up to the excellent example Trustees Dozal and Pennington have set for our Board; if elected, I look forward to the challenge.
Onto the recap…
Trustee Rita Dozal said that at the the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOGs) meeting, the topic of Smart Cities came up. Trustee Dozal defined Smart Cities as “the availability of technology and how it’s used to enhance quality of life in your city”, which was a great definition. Last week, I attended the Colorado Smart Cities Symposium, and am very passionate about this topic. You can read my recap of the conference here, and also click here to set up time to meet with me and discuss in person. And, stay tuned for an event I’ll be doing in a few weeks highlighting various ways we can use technology to improve our town and its communications!
Trustee Sandie Hammerly reported that the Louisville Library has been interviewing new candidates for a librarian position. As part of the interviews, Trustee Hammerly specifically asked the candidates about their ideas for outreach to Superior, and she said that several people had excellent answers. I am really looking forward to hearing how Superior can get more services from the Louisville Library. Right now, the main benefit Superior residents get from sending our tax dollars toward Louisville library is the book return drop box at our Town Hall. It would be wonderful to get some programming in Superior!
Trustee Mark Lacis talked about the Transportation & Safety Committee (TSC) meeting the previous Monday, which I also attended. One of the biggest items on the TSC agenda was a request from the residents of Pitkin Ave for traffic calming measures; more than a dozen people showed up specifically to talk about this issue. The TSC discussed adding a few stop signs, but also decided to add temporary speed humps like those deployed on Castle Peak Ave earlier this year.
The TSC also discussed the placement of the Castle Peak speed humps, and the Committee recommended that the hump at the bottom of Castle Peak be made permanent. The other two temporary speed humps between Huron Peak and Mount Sopris will be removed for winter, then redeployed to two slightly different locations in that same stretch to ensure we get the locations right before making the speed humps permanent. Finally, I spoke up in public comment at the TSC meeting and requested consideration for speed humps south of Mount Sopris, as multiple neighbors have asked me to advocate for these as well. Full notes from the September TSC meeting are here.
One important thing to note about the TSC meeting was resident Brian Hill’s excellent point around traffic calming: the more we add, the more residents of other areas come to the Board to request similar traffic calming measures in their neighborhood. While this could get expensive, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. However, it reiterates the point I have continued to make about the need for a comprehensive master plan around transportation in our Town. While I advocated for speed humps south of Mount Sopris, I would really like to see us take a more holistic approach to our traffic issues rather than trying to plug one hole at a time (which puts more pressure on the other holes).
Mayoral Candidate Gladys Forshee announced that she will be organizing a cookies with veterans event on November 11th from 9am-1pm in honor of Veteran’s Day.
Trustee Candidate Neal Shah presented his analysis of the RMFD ballot initiative and urged the Board to take a stand against this ballot on the grounds that it decreases transparency. Although I haven’t spoken with Candidate Shah about this directly, I believe we have the same opinion of the ballot initiative: that our fire department does great things and we are supportive of them, but the current proposal is too vague. You can read more of my thoughts on the RMFD ballot initiative here.
Resident Brian Hill also reported out on his research into Rocky Mountain Fire Department (RMFD), and noted that RMFD doesn’t offer the same opportunities for citizen input as other neighboring towns do. However, Mr. Hill pointed out that this is because the RMFD isn’t focused just on one town and covers a broad area. This tidbit gets at the heart of the debate around the new ballot initiative. Essentially, we pay more to RMFD than other neighboring municipalities do, but that is because RMFD includes a lot of Open Space (outside of Superior), whose services Superior taxpayers are subsidizing. The RMFD will be presenting the initiative at next Monday’s Town Board Meeting on October 8th.
Trustee Candidate Dalton Valette asked the Board to sign the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). You can learn more about Cities for CEDAW here.
Saddlebrook resident Kate Kelley asked the Board to allow Zaharias to stay as Open Space rather than being developed; she invited people to come out and hang out on her balcony and see how nice it is. I reached out to Kate after the meeting, and am looking forward to joining her for a walk around the area this weekend. (And I’m going to use this opportunity to point out that it’s easy to contact me and set up time to meet for a walk, coffee, or any other kind of drink… I appreciate any forum to better understand your viewpoints on the Town!)
XCEL Energy Presentation
Craig Eicher, Boulder Region Manager from XCEL Energy, spoke about the gas leak at McCaslin two weeks ago. Manager Eicher reiterated how seriously XCEL takes this leak, and explained that a line was capped and had not been properly marked per standards; as a result, it was hit in the course of the Comcast/Xfinity fiber upgrades. Going forward, XCEL is considering putting a marker ball on the end of each pipe to help locate them in the future. However, Trustee Kevin Ryan pushed back on XCEL to find out exactly why the line wasn’t capped and who made this mistake. I agree that we need to figure out where we went wrong, in order to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
OSAC 76th Street Parcel Presentation
Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) Chairs Ken Lish and Ryan Welch spoke about a potential opportunity to purchase the property at 7494 Marshall Road. OSAC originally evaluated the 30 acres of 76th Street parcels as a whole; now, parcel 3 may be up for sale. This particular property has connection points on both Marshall and 76th Street, and could help create a safe connection between the Davidson Mesa Underpass and Mayhoffer Singletree trail network. As the property is more than 12 acres in size, OSAC offers that the Town could devote all of it to Open Space or just a portion. Chairman Lish also pointed out that there could be many opportunities for partnerships, since this trail would have benefit to other jurisdictions like Boulder and Louisville.
Chairman Lish noted that while this parcel is not currently listed for sale, OSAC has heard rumors that the owner is open to negotiations. Chairman Welch noted that there is a dwelling on the property, so it could be difficult to determine a valuation since this would need to be taken into account. He said that the current Zillow estimate for the property is $1.5M dollars. However, Zillow estimates are notoriously inaccurate and I have always been told by realtors to ignore them. Any realtors want to chime in on what fair valuation might be?
Trustee Lacis perfectly echoed my thoughts on the recommendation by pointing out that in a town of only four square miles, we have rapidly dwindling undeveloped land. With rising property values, the pace of development is increasing and there soon won’t be any land left to designate for Open Space. Our citizens highly value Open Space, and it’s part of what makes our town so special, so Trustee Lacis recommended that we listen to OSAC’s recommendation and take steps to purchase land before it’s too late. I completely agree with Trustee Lacis and, depending on the price, would support the purchase. A full summary of OSAC’s recommendation is here.
Superior Shores Final Plat Site Plan
The main topic for the Board agenda tonight was presentation of a final plat site plan for “Superior Shores”, a new development of 94 condominiums on the 13-acre Resolute property (north of Coalton between Tyler Drive and Flatirons Crossing Drive). Resolute Development President Gary Rohr provided an overview of the goals for the project, and then turned the podium over to developer Mark Young from Urban Green Development.
Urban Green Development (UGD) is a Denver-based B-corporation. A B-corp is unique in specifically defining a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment as one of their goals (in addition to profit) – which is exactly the type of developer I think we want in Superior. As a B-corp, all employees are given monthly time to volunteer and give back to the community. Mr. Young says that UGD’s goal is to create a conscious, sustainable community. UGD wants Superior Shores to be a “net positive community” by providing more energy than they use through geothermal heating. UGD won’t know until they can dig the test wells whether being net positive is possible for this site, but it is currently in their plans.
Mr. Young called attention to the roof deck, which he said UGD tries to add on all their properties, and which would provide stunning views across the Front Range. All the front doors of the condo front to open space – and 46% of the land is targeted as open space. However, PROSTAC expressed concern in their comments about whether or not the green space and park areas are adequate given the density of development.
Trustee Sandy Pennington was unhappy with the choice of native grass rather than manicured grass. She said that her part of Town near Wildflower Park made that choice (for native grass), and has subsequently struggled to keep it looking nice. The concern was that the landscaping would need to match what Bell Flatirons is doing adjacent, so Mr. Young said he would meet with Bell Flatirons to discuss this and other topics. Specifically: he would also like to work out some sort of agreement for residents of Superior Shores to use Autrey Reservoir, which is owned by Bell Flatirons.
As far as Superior Shores’ own infrastructure goes, electric and water utilities will be covered by the future HOA. This allows UGD to keep infrastructure down by establishing just one water and electrical service per building, rather than having it all individually metered by unit. In addition to the regular snow removal, landscaping, and traditional HOA maintenance, the Builder wants to improve interactions between homeowners in the community. After the units are built, UGD would turn the HOA over to the community to run. In two of the communities UGD has already built, Mr. Young says the residents have asked UGD to come back and run the HOA because they were so happy with it.
It should be noted that the condos will be expensive: starting in the 500 thousands for a smaller unit (1,700-2,500 square feet) and going up to the 900 thousands for the largest units (2,900-3,400 square feet). This would be the biggest development UGD has undertaken, though many of the workers at the company have been at other builders with larger developments. As for prospective buyers, UGD is targeting double-income no-kid (DINK) couples and empty nesters. UGD doesn’t believe they will have many renters, as the price point is too high.
Trustee Chris Hanson asked whether the developer has considered the expansive soils, which presumably are the same in Resolute as they are in the rest of Rock Creek. The developer said that he’s hired the very best geotechnical engineer, and they will need to dig the wells 300-400 feet down, so the soil won’t matter, as they will be drilling into the bedrock. To mitigate against the expansive soil, the developer is building in a 6-inch void between the soil and the garage, and a two-foot void throughout all of the other parts of the home.
Trustee Hammerly asked whether residents in the Shores would pay landscape fees and Rock Creek HOA fees. UGD answered that they will definitely pay the landscape fees, but it was unclear whether they will also pay the Rock Creek HOA fees.
Trustee Pennington did not like the monochromatic look. She said that she prefers how the Summit at Rock Creek has different colors for different buildings, which makes wayfinding easier. The developers said he was happy to consider other colors, but didn’t want to slow down development by changing the colors. There was some discussion as to whether UGD could decide on the colors at a later date, and Town Attorney Kendra Carberry said that UGD could come back with an amendment anytime if they wanted to make changes to the current palette.
Trustee Pennington asked about adding more art to the community, and UGD seemed open to that suggestion; Mr. Young said, “absolutely; that’s what we do.” UGD committed to “making this really cool”, and Trustee Pennington said she’d love to see UGD work with the Cultural Arts and Public Spaces (CAPS) committee to make that happen.
Trustee Pennington also asked why there isn’t a clubhouse in this type of community, and Mr. Young responded that club houses are typically underused. However, he restated his intention to work with Bell Flatirons to see if the Superior Shores community could have access to the Bell Flatirons Clubhouse and amenities for a fee.
During public comment on the proposal, there was some talk as to whether the two year warranty that the builder provided would be sufficient for public utilities, as Trustee candidate Theresa Clark was concerned it wouldn’t be long enough. However, Mr. Young clarified that this is fairly standard, and furthermore, the two years is from when the property is built and finished, not from when construction begins. The two year warranty is also exactly what our town code requires. Trustee Dozal pointed out that as we approach the end of the two year warranty, if there are any observable problems, the warranty can be extended.
Several of the Trustees were concerned about parking, especially Trustee Hammerly, as she’s seen problems with guest parking in the Summit. Each unit has a garage, but as Trustee Ryan pointed out, there is very limited street parking for guests. The developer’s response was that he hoped some of their visitors could park in the outer edges of the proposed hotel parking lot adjacent. He jokes that perhaps the Board could make it a condition of the hotel’s development application that they allow residents of the Shores to park there 🙂 See the table at right for details of the parking that will be provided.
UGD said that they would be ready to start building within 90 days of board approval, and Mr. Young estimated it will take 2.5 years to complete the project.
Trustee Pennington wanted to add a condition to require the applicant to work with Bell Flatirons to install manicured lawn, and Attorney Carberry wrote it up as “Applicant shall work with the owner of Autrey Reservoir” (i.e., Bell Flatirons) “to improve the landscaping between the sidewalk and the trail around the reservoir.” Trustee Ryan and Mayor Clint Folsom were against it, as they felt it was too prescriptive and it shouldn’t be on this developer rather than on Bell Flatirons. Trustee Pennington said that people should go look at Coal Creek Crossing for an example of why this condition should be added. Trustee Lacis said that while he agrees it would be great to have this improvement, he doesn’t think it is the appropriate use of a condition, because the applicant doesn’t really have control over it. Trustee Dozal countered that she would like to see it added as a condition even if it’s not enforceable by the Town, because Superior Shores is buying on Lakeshore Drive and the lake is part of the whole premise for their property and design; therefore, UGD needs to be able to work with the owners of that Lake to ensure beautiful views.
The Board ultimately decided to add this as a condition; a motion to approve the plat plan was made by Trustee Hanson, and seconded by Trustee Ryan. It passed unanimously.
Executive Session with Town Attorney
Finally, there was an agenda item for an executive session with Town Attorney Carberry to discuss RMFD’s ballot initiative. Before the motion to go into Executive Session, Trustee Ryan wanted to discuss whether there should be an Executive Session, and stated that he was against doing so; Mayor Folsom agreed. Trustee Hammerly said that she was the one who requested an Executive Session, because she wanted to ask Attorney Carberry what the Board’s options would be if, after hearing the presentation on October 7th, the Board has concerns about the proposal. Trustee Pennington agreed, as did Trustee Dozal. To avoid going into Executive Session, Attorney Carberry said that she would resend the memo and any Trustees who have questions could contact her individually to have them answered.