Town Board Meeting: February 10, 2020

Town Board Meeting: February 10, 202012 min read

Hi neighbors! In Monday night’s Town Board Meeting, we heard a presentation on the 2020 Presidential Primary process, heard a presentation from ACES on the Superior Sustainability Scorecard, approved an increase in the price to request public records, approved annual work plans from five of our Advisory Committees, approved an ordinance removing distance restrictions from schools for liquor licenses, reviewed and discussed building designs for the community center at 1500 Coalton Road, and reviewed and discussed potential future regulations for the acceptance, processing, and approval of land use applications related to oil & gas. Ready to find out more on 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. At the request of my fellow Board members, I am keeping their points anonymous rather than trying to attribute my interpretation to them personally. For the most unbiased and complete information, I would encourage residents to watch the meeting video itself and draw their own conclusions – visit the town website at SuperiorColorado.gov for the official meeting video and 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. Engaged Citizens 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!

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Item 2D – Public Comment

After the usual preliminaries, we kicked off the meeting with public comment – but there was no general public comment tonight.

Item 2E1 – Presentation – 2020 Primary Election

Instead, we turned to presentations. Next month, Colorado will face its first presidential primary in 20 years. Boulder County Clerk Molly Fitzpatrick gave a presentation to the Board on some new changes this year. Unaffiliated voters will receive ballots for both the Republican primary and the Democratic primary, but may only return one (if both are returned, they will be invalidated); otherwise, voters may only vote in the party primary for which they were registered as of February 1. This year, 17 year olds who will be 18 years old by the time of the November 3 General Election are also eligible to vote in the primary. Finally, for those choosing to vote by mail, Clerk Fitzpatrick recommended doing so at least one week in advance of the March 3rd deadline. To learn more about the election process, or to check / update your registration, visit www.GoVoteColorado.com; you may also visit www.BoulderCountyVotes.org to sign up for Ballot Track and see where your ballot is at all times.

Item 2E2 – Presentation – ACES Sustainability Scorecard

Our second presentation was on the ACES Sustainability Scorecard. Over the last year, the Advisory Committee for Environmental Sustainability (ACES) has developed a scorecard to evaluate sustainability performance and track long-term strategies for improvement. ACES member Mike Henchen presented this year’s scorecard (linked here), which includes metrics comparing Superior residents’ energy use to others in Boulder County, and also includes a checklist of opportunities to improve sustainability. ACES plans to use this scorecard to track progress, raise visibility into performance, and also set sustainability goals for the future. I’m thrilled that we are establishing metrics for environmental sustainability, both to benchmark ourselves against neighboring communities and also to track our own progress from year to year – in my opinion, this is the right way to drive progress.

Item 3 – Consent Agenda

Next, our Board unanimously passed the consent agenda – including meeting minutes and a resolution approving the Three-Mile Plan (our process for annexation of new land into the Town of Superior).

Another Trustee and I pulled agenda item 3C, a resolution amending the town’s public records policy and increasing the price of a Colorado Open Records request from $30.00 to $33.00 per hour for research time. I am still very disappointed that our Board does not have an appetite to make public / all of our email correspondence public and easily accessible – which would dramatically reduce both the frequency and scope of our open records requests, and improve transparency. If we are not going to do that, I would at least like to decrease the price to citizens to request information. As such, I was not supportive of increasing the price of open records requests at all, despite the recent state law change that allowed us to increase the hourly price to $33.58. A motion by Trustee Kevin Ryan failed to raise the price to $33.00 even; Trustee Ken Lish proposed a motion to raise the hourly price to the full $33.58 allowed by state law, and Trustee Neal Shah seconded. Trustees Sandie Hammerly, Ken Lish, Kevin Ryan, and Neal Shah voted to approve; I voted opposed. (Mayor Clint Folsom and Mayor Pro Tem Mark Lacis were absent.) The motion carried.

Item 4 – Proposed Annual Work Plans from the Town’s Committee Members

Our Board asked representatives of each of our Advisory Committees to present their work plans for the year, for discussion and approval. I have linked each of the plans below:

We approved each of these plans unanimously. The Cultural Arts and Public Spaces Advisory Committee (CAPS) and Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) work plans will be presented at a future meeting.

Item 6 – Proposed Ordinance Removing Distance Restrictions from Schools for All Classes of Liquor Licenses

Colorado state law requires all businesses applying for liquor licenses to be at least 500 feet from a school – but towns have the opportunity to eliminate or reduce this minimum distance through local ordinance. As we discuss design plans for 1500 Coalton Road, it has come up that this building is only about 120 feet away from Rock Creek School – so a liquor license could not be granted to a private entity in this location. As such, our Board was considering an ordinance to remove the distance restriction from schools.

My initial thinking on this was “why now?” – meaning, couldn’t we wait to make this change if and when we decide to put a bar / brewery / distillery at 1500 Coalton Road? I quickly learned that for town-owned property, the 500 foot rule would not apply; as our Board intends to keep 1500 Coalton Road as a town-owned property, with an option to lease out space to private vendors, this ordinance would make no difference in this area. So while the initial impetus for exploring this change was the design for 1500 Coalton, that isn’t actually a reason to make the change.

But now that it was being considered, I started thinking about the ordinance not from the lens of “should we change the status quo?” (always a higher hurdle to clear) but “what is the right policy for our town if we were choosing today?” When approaching it from that perspective, I believe that it makes more sense to remove the distance restriction – particularly since our Town Attorney assured us that any application for a liquor license can be approved or denied based on the individual circumstances, regardless of the distance rule. It became apparent that the only purpose of the distance rule is in preventing anyone within the 500 foot limit from even applying for a liquor license. I don’t believe such a blanket ban is warranted in Superior, and would rather err on the side of flexibility and consider applications on a case by case basis (particularly when it comes to Downtown Superior, where density is higher).

Furthermore, while a Board could overturn this distance rule at any time in the future, having it codified dissuades owners / investors from even considering Superior as a potential business location, since there is a perception that it will be a big hoop to jump through for a Board to change the law. We have spent a lot of money to engage an economic development consultant to help recruit food / beverage manufacturers, and last month alone, he reached out to 208 distilleries, wineries, and cideries; it doesn’t make sense for us to be reaching out to these businesses on the one hand but then discouraging them from setting up shop. I want to send a message to potential owners / investors that we are a flexible, business-friendly community, and I think this ordinance will convey that message.

The Board ultimately voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance, with Trustee Ken Lish as the dissenting vote.

Item 7 – 1500 Coalton Road Building Design and Use Review

Last month, we organized a number of opportunities for public engagement to define and design the improvements to 1500 Coalton Road. At our last meeting in January, OZ Architecture presented the results of that engagement; at Monday’s meeting, they coalesced the potential designs into one vision and our Board provided feedback on changes we’d like to see made. The final design will come to our Board for approval at the February 24 meeting before an RFP is issued for a general contractor to begin the build. You can review the draft design here; the space plan / concept begins on page 10.

I loved the aesthetic of the “open spine” wall (seen on page 17) that divides the main entry way from the library; OZ explained that books and games could be placed in the nooks so it would be kind of a bookshelf-feel. However, I was very concerned about the acoustics of using such an open wall, particularly combined with the high ceilings of the space. While I’m not expecting that the designated library area will have library-like levels of quiet, I think if we are already putting a wall there, we might as well give it some sound-blocking qualities – otherwise, we’ll suffer the same pitfalls of the open office trend, where it looks cool but secretly drives everyone nuts. I hope the final design will either use a different type of wall, or put Plexiglass or something similar on the back of it, so that we can enjoy the aesthetic of the unique wall but not have quite as much noise throughout the space.

My other concern was with the stadium seating taking up so much of the space. When I’ve seen this style of seating in other buildings, it’s rarely used, as people don’t find it comfortable to sit on what are essentially bleachers unless there is an actual event to watch. Another Trustee said he had the opposite opinion and believed it would be the most popular seating in the space. I conceded the point, and will be curious to see how it does. The stadium seating certainly does create a cool aesthetic, and I think it will be valuable for the large (though infrequent) town hall-style events we may host; I will just be curious to see its popularity on a regular basis.

A member of the Board asked the designers if there is anything we didn’t include in the space that they think we should? They replied that some features and functions are very unique to Superior relative to other towns (e.g., a library / book drop), but said they think our plans are comprehensive from the feedback they’ve heard. Great to hear!

As far as next steps, our Board discussed whether to send this out for another round of feedback, or move forward with the feedback we’ve collected so far. We decided to put the current design out on the Town of Superior website and encourage people to email the Board with their thoughts, then update the website in two weeks as soon as the next draft is available, with feedback from this meeting incorporated. We will not have the final design come to the Board for approval until our March 9 meeting, so that gives several more weeks for community input. Please email your feedback to townboard@superiorcolorado.gov – I am eager to hear your thoughts!

Item 5 – Proposed Ordinance for Acceptance, Processing, and Approval of Land Use Applications Related to Oil & Gas

We closed our meeting with item 5 (out of order due to scheduling): consideration of a proposed ordinance to detail the regulations for the acceptance, processing, and approval of land use applications related to oil & gas exploration, extraction, and related operations. In 2019, facing an application for fracking in the southwest corner of Superior, our Board enacted a temporary moratorium to review and update our regulations; now, our special counsel Matt Sura has prepared updated regulations.

The updated regulations would limit oil and gas facilities to areas zoned for agriculture and industrial uses; require a permit that must follow a detailed process; allow for inspection by the Town at any time; and be at least 1000′ from homes, schools, and parks (500′ more than state requirements), and 500′ from water bodies and public wells. Attorney Sura also drafted a Best Management Practices (BMP) document to sit adjacent to our town code and outline more than 90 specific practices that must be followed across twelve categories: air quality, water quality protection, use of pipelines, emergency response plans, inspections, transportation & circulation, noise mitigation, community outreach, reclamation, risk management, safety, and visual mitigation. You may read the BMP draft here.

So, why 1000 foot setbacks, you may ask? That was my question to our attorney – particularly since there are some municipalities in California currently pushing for 2500 foot setbacks. The answer is that several months ago, Adams County (Colorado) adopted a regulation requiring 1000 foot setbacks, which has not yet been challenged. Attorney Sura pointed out that if we try to adopt a setback that is significantly higher than the state limit, we may be challenged legally; it seemed to be his belief that 1000 feet will offer us the greatest protection with the least risk.

We will be making a decision on the final adoption of these regulations at our March 9 meeting.

Item 8 – Reports, Issues, and Questions

Finally, during reports, I wanted to share congratulations to Chandy Ghosh, a Superior resident who
was recently selected as one of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business. Our small town is full of incredible talent, and I’m thrilled to have such a strong female leader right here in Superior!

Wrap Up

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 townboard@superiorcolorado.gov, or to me specifically at lauras@superiorcolorado.gov. 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.

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