Town Board Meeting: March 11, 201914 min read
Hi neighbors – I hope you’ve stayed safe and warm despite the bomb cyclone blizzard last week! We lucked out with a relatively limited amount of snow and wind compared to what was predicted, and I was grateful that there weren’t any major outages / damages in Superior. Our park and street crews did a fantastic job cleaning up quickly, and getting our streets / sidewalks in noticeably better condition than surrounding communities – kudos! #SuperiorTownSuperiorLife
In last Monday’s Town Board Meeting, we covered several topics I’m extremely passionate about – like using technology to help our town government be more transparent and inclusive. While I was disappointed with some of the decisions we made, I am just one vote of seven, and part of being a Board member is supporting the direction of the Board even if it does not align with my personal opinion. (And on that note, it should be noted that on Monday night, Trustee Kevin Ryan was home sick and unable to attend, so all decisions made “unanimously” were actually 6-0.)
Edited to add: While I am trying my best to provide detailed information for you that is still short and easily digestible, sometimes in my attempts to summarize I don’t accurately capture the intentions of my fellow Board members. For our March 11th Board Meeting, I ended up having to revise the post and take down the video; I am re-recording it now with some redactions, which is why you are seeing this video so late. Going forward, you may see varying levels of detail in my blogs and videos as I try to balance my goal of providing you with a full recap without trying to represent my colleagues’ positions on various issues. I welcome any feedback or suggestions on how I can improve!
Ready to find out what happened? As usual, you may read this post in written form, or scroll to the bottom for a video recap.
Disclaimer: While I do my best to represent an honest and accurate portrayal of meetings and events, the following should be considered an editorial that represents one person’s interpretation of the meetings. For the most unbiased information, I would encourage residents to watch the meeting video itself and draw their own conclusions – visit the town website at SuperiorColorado.gov for a meeting video and the official meeting minutes. Finally, I’d also encourage you to check out EngagedCitizens.us, which is a fantastic free tool created by one of our own residents, which includes a repository of agendas, documents, and meeting videos, and allows you to search within a video to jump to critical parts. I hope you find it as helpful as I do!
Working Session with OSAC
Monday night’s Board Meeting kicked off with a working session with the Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC). The Board and OSAC discussed the potential future acquisition of the CenturyLink property on the south side of Superior, the timeline / urgency in developing a vision for the Town 15, and ideas / potential additional funding for facilities at Shan-Shan Trailhead.
Advisory Committee Interview
The Board conducted an interview with resident Christina Costabile to potentially fill one of two open positions on the Cultural Arts and Public Spaces (CAPS) Committee.
Trustee Neal Shah reminded everyone that he testified at the Senate hearing for Senate Bill 181 (SB-181), around oil & gas. You can view a copy he provided of his testimony here.
Trustee Sandie Hammerly provided the rest of the Board with copies of the Mobility Choice Blueprint – a report funded by DRCOG, CDOT, and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, exploring other transportation options rather than driving.
Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Lacis attended the Metro Mayors Washington DC trip last week (in lieu of Mayor Clint Folsom). The delegation met with various officials and departments to lobby for federal funding for transportation projects in Colorado. In particular, they were looking to secure funding for managed lanes and BRT lanes on the Diagonal Highway from Boulder to Longmont. Mayor Pro-Tem Lacis also went to the Capitol to testify and lobby on behalf of SB-181. Finally, he reminded citizens that this Friday is the Superior Youth Leadership Council’s Parents Night Out – parents can drop their kids off for a night of fun and games, while enjoying a night to themselves without having to pay for a babysitter.
Although the Board was already well aware, I reported to the public that I attended a Town Hall on Saturday 3/9 with Governor Jared Polis, Senator Tammy Story, and State Representative Matt Gray. They covered a number of topics including transportation, oil & gas, education, and infrastructure. I took detailed notes on all the questions and answers, and published them here, so those who did not attend are still able to learn what was said.
Coming up, a resident emailed us about a “Superior Zero Waste” Event to help residents of Superior learn about how to recycle and compost better, and get all their questions answered. This will be on Tuesday March 26th, from 6:30pm-8pm, at the Fire Station on Indiana. To learn more and RSVP, go to ecocycle.salsalabs.org/
During public comment, resident (and professional pilot) Brad Walker suggested that the Town hire an aviation attorney, as he said that the contract we agreed to sign last meeting discriminates against flight schools. Mr. Walker also told us that he feels his profession has been personally attacked by the Town. As a consultant who frequently works with airlines and aviation professionals, I was really sad to hear this.
Two residents who founded Safe Superior, Jeremy Jackson and Tim Howard, spoke in support of SB-181 and urged all Trustees to unanimously support it with a resolution.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lacis read a proclamation to declare our Board’s support of National Service Recognition Day on April 2, 2019. I read a proclamation to declare March as Nutrition Month in Superior. I also pledged to only eat carrots (and skip the M&Ms and chips on the dais) for the duration of the meeting 🙂
A trustee pulled item 3G, Adoption of a Resolution approving an Intergovernmental Agreement with Boulder Valley School District for use of Town Hall, to ask whether it’s typical for this to be at no cost; Manager Magley said it was. This item passed unanimously.
The rest of the consent agenda (approval of meeting minutes, a resolution approving the annual 3-mile plan for annexations, approval of a tastings permit for Superior Liquor, and a contract with Siegel Public Affairs for lobbying services around SB-181) also passed unanimously.
Item 4 – Approval of the Planning Commission’s 2019 Work Plan
The Planning Commission’s 2019 work plan was redlined to remove item 6-1 (implement summary of recommendations for Original Town by developing the overlay district), as it was believed by the Board that an overlay district might not be legally feasible. Planning Commission Chair Bob McCool and Vice Chair Lisa Ritchie were in attendance, and each spoke about their frustration at having this item abruptly pulled without any notice or discussion from the Board or Town Staff, as they have been working on it for several years. Several members of the Board (including me) apologized profusely for not communicating with the Planning Commission better, particularly after our working session with the Planning Commission was cut short several weeks ago. The Board decided that we’d like to schedule another meeting with the Planning Commission before approving the Work Plan, and talked about potentially doing this as a standalone meeting rather than a Work Session prior to a Board meeting, to ensure ample time for the discussion.
Item 5 – Resolution in Support of Senate Bill 181, Concerning Additional Public Welfare Protections on Oil & Gas Operations
At our Special Work Session this November when Highlands Natural Resources filed an application to drill in Superior, many of our Board members said we were extremely limited in our ability to respond. We’ve had several meetings since then with legal counsel to understand our rights, and how we can protect Superior if another drilling application were to be filed. At our last meeting’s Executive Session, we directed Town Staff to hire a lobbyist to represent Superior’s interests and support Senate Bill 181, which changes the framework of the COGCC (Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission) from fostering oil & gas development to protecting public safety, and also gives more power to local governments in approving oil & gas development.
I was somewhat divided on my support of this bill. My general philosophy in life is that I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to take a stand on something without fully understanding the other side, so prior to this vote, I spent a lot of time reaching out to opponents of SB-181 to hear their perspective. I ended up learning several things that I don’t like about the bill, and I’m not convinced it is the best thing for Colorado as a whole. There are a lot of changes I’m hoping will be made to the bill before it becomes law, and it makes me nervous to declare my support for something that is clearly extremely recent and in flux. However, I was elected to protect the health and safety of Superior – and I think this bill does that, by giving control to our local officials who understand that what makes sense out in Weld County may not makes sense for a densely populated town of just four square miles. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything else on the horizon that makes an effort to protect a town like ours, so I voted yes to support the resolution. My fellow Board members did the same, and the resolution passed unanimously (6-0).
Item 6 – Approval of Sale & Purchase Agreement for Ridge II Property
Next, our Board was presented with the opportunity to purchase a 5.8 acre property west of McCaslin and north of the Ridge subdivision. This could be a strategic acquisition for us, because it’s next to key Town infrastructure and resources (the Town Water Treatment Plant and Terminal Reservoir). Funding to purchase this would come from reserves, and would not require financing or a tax increase. The Board voted unanimously (6-0) to purchase this property.
Item 7 – Discussion of Board Communications and Roles
Our final item on the agenda included several disparate topics, so I proposed that we identify one at a time for discussion, and that if the meeting went particularly late, we consider tabling some items till the next meeting rather than trying to rush the conversation. This was agreed upon, and we began with a lengthy discussion with our Town Attorney about what our Board members can / can’t legally talk about via email.
Next, we had a discussion around publishing emails to / from the Town Board. I championed this initiative and am very passionate about making it happen, as I believe transparency is a huge part of integrity in decision making. If you aren’t willing to stand behind your words, why are you writing them? Unfortunately, the majority of the Board disagreed with me, and there were concerns that citizens might stop writing to the Board if we made their words easier to access. Mayor Folsom, Trustee Lish, Trustee Shah, and Trustee Hammerly did not support the initiative. There were concerns with the cost to implement (is posting the emails a quality use of staff’s time?), and questions around whether we need to be more transparent than we already are. Mayor Pro-Tem Lacis said he was on the fence. After a compelling public comment from resident Sean Maday, Mayor Pro Tem Lacis stated that he was now convinced and would like to try publishing the email as an experiment. I reached out to Mr. Maday for a copy of his comment to share with you, as I personally thought it was excellent:
“I am an avid supporter of open government, and I was very excited to see a consideration of proactively publishing town board emails on the agenda for tonight’s meeting. I am here today because I would like to share my opinion on this important topic.
The issue you have before you is not a consideration of what material should be made publicly available. Section 1(C) of the Colorado Open Records Act clearly establishes correspondence with elected officials via electronic mail as squarely within the scope of open records requests.
The issue you are considering should not be the unintended consequences of citizens knowing who is exchanging emails with the Town Board. The name of anyone emailing the town board is already part of the public record. With a few notable exceptions, this information can not be legally redacted from public release.
The vast majority of email correspondence sent to and from the town board is already public information. Anyone can get a copy of all of these messages by filling out the eight fields on the town of Superior’s one page “Application for Open Records Request” form.
I would contend that this form is the actual issue under consideration here, specifically if this silly piece of paper should stand between taxpayers and the material that they are rightfully entitled to access.
If the town does not officially publish these messages, we are simply deferring this insight to whoever is willing to fill out the form and pay the associated fee. We are giving this insight to whoever is willing to pay. Nothing is stopping a third party from publishing this material
You have an opportunity to eliminate a layer of bureaucracy from our community. You have a genuine occasion to tangibly reduce the friction between citizens and their local government. You have a chance to actively demonstrate Superior’s commitment to proactive transparency and openness.
Governments of the past required citizens to pull data from them. Modern governments push data to the public.
I ask that you empower the town staff to invest the resources necessary to implement a system and develop a process for pushing this email correspondence to the public on a regular basis, just as our neighbors in Louisville, Boulder, and other progressive Colorado municipalities have already done.
If you want Superior to support transparency, support it.”
Unfortunately, the rest of the Board remained unmoved by this comment, and this initiative was dropped from consideration. The Boulder Daily Camera subsequently posted their own article covering the discussion here.
Next, a discussion of the roles and responsibilities of Board Liaisons to Advisory Committees. There was debate as to how active Board members should be in Advisory Committee meetings, and confusion stemmed from the fact that our official policy contradicted the municipal code and also does not accurately reflect how the liaison role has been handled for the last few years. (E.g., the policy says attendance is optional, but all Board members in the last few years have treated attendance at their assigned committees as mandatory.) Town Staff is going to work with Committee Chairs to revise the policy and bring it back to the Board.
Although I suggested we delay the remaining items for another meeting, we pushed forward to a discussion of whether Board members and/or Advisory Committee members should be able to call in via phone to Committee meetings rather than being required to attend in person. We began with a vote down the line rather than an open discussion, which I found frustrating as I felt that it significantly curtailed consideration by forcing everyone to take a side immediately. We did discuss afterwards, with several Trustees expressing concerns about the ability of remote callers to fully hear / participate, and the Board ultimately decided not to move forward with leveraging technology to allow anyone to call in for meetings.
Finally, the Board discussed the potential for the general public to call into Town Board Meetings with public comments. This would not be legally possible for land use applications, but other communities have tried this for non-land use comments (albeit with limited participation). As we did not have all the facts around implementation costs and feasibility, Town Manager Matt Magley took a note to come back to the Board at a later use with more details.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read / listen to this recap – I hope it is helpful! Our Board is always open to hearing your comments, questions, and concerns – you may always email your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to me specifically at email@example.com. As a reminder, any messages sent to a government email are part of the public record and will have your name attached; if you feel the need to write in anonymously, you may always comment at the bottom of my blog post recaps.
Have a great week!