Town Board Meeting: March 9, 2020

Town Board Meeting: March 9, 20209 min read

Hi neighbors! In last Monday night’s Town Board Work Session and Meeting, we approved funding for the Superior Chamber of Commerce, approved the CAPS committee work plan, approved a construction agreement for the first phase of 88th Street reconstruction, approved the final design for 1500 Coalton Road, and continued discussions of new ordinances to regulate oil and gas development in Superior. 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 3 – Consent Agenda

This Board Meeting kicked off with our Board unanimously passing the consent agenda – including meeting minutes, a proclamation for the 2020 census, cancellation of the May elections for the Superior Metro District 1 and the Superior / McCaslin Interchange Metro District, and approval of a loan agreement for the wastewater treatment plant of Superior Metro District 1.

A Trustee pulled Item 3G, approval of a $40,000 contribution to the Superior Chamber of Commerce. Executive Director TJ Sullivan shared the Chamber’s 2020 goals and workplan (linked here) – with a focus on updating the website, improving communications, developing a long-term strategic plan, and expanding Chamber engagement in economic development and community affairs. Executive Director Sullivan noted that he plans to make sure some of the potential grant from the town is specifically geared toward supporting the Town’s economic development efforts and the establishment of Downtown Superior. There were some concerns expressed by a few Board members as to whether the Chamber would be the most deserving nonprofit for this funding. However, in my opinion, the Chamber of Commerce does a fantastic job serving as the professional face of business in Superior, funding and organizing events that can be enjoyed by the entire community, and working in tandem with our economic development consultant. Ultimately, item 3G passed unanimously.

Item 4 – Proposed Annual Work Plan from CAPS

Our Board asked representatives of each of our Advisory Committees to present their work plans for the year, for discussion and approval. At this Board meeting, we heard and approved the Cultural Arts and Public Spaces (CAPS) committee work plan – linked here.

Item 5 – 88th Street Improvement Project Construction Contract with GoodLand Construction

The Town has been long overdue for road reconstruction and widening of 88th Street from Rock Creek Parkway to the US 36 bridge. For historical context, we discussed the improvement options at our October 28th meeting, and approved a construction manager / general contractor delivery model with GoodLand Construction at our January 27th meeting. Since then, GoodLand and town staff have refined the engineering design, resolved utility conflicts, and begun obtaining construction access from property owners.

At this meeting, our Board considered a $1.8M contract with GoodLand Construction for phase one of the work. The major elements of the design include full-depth reconstruction of the existing pavement, addition of a center turn lane and two six-foot wide bike lanes, addition of a curb and gutter on the east side, addition of a ten-foot wide multiuse trail and street lights along the east side, addition of a raised pedestrian refuge island north of Shamrock, and utility extensions. In the first phase of construction, there will be lane closures between the hours of 9am and 3pm (avoiding rush hour) in May and June – but one lane will always be open.

In the second phase of work this summer, the road will need to close entirely – so there will be no passage from Louisville to / from Superior during this time. However, access to Reliance Circle will be maintained, and emergency vehicles can be flagged through. GoodLand VP Ben Worland told the Board that there is no risk that construction will extend past when school is back in service. On the flip side, if we closed one lane at a time, the timeline would double, and we wouldn’t finish until October – which would be challenging for school traffic, confusing for residents (especially in emergency scenarios), and could also lead to weather delays impacting the project. We expect the second phase of the work to come to the Board for approval on April 27th.

The contract for phase 1 was approved unanimously.

Item 6 – Final Design for 1500 Coalton Road

Amanda Johnson and Joe Levi from OZ Architecture presented the potential final design for our community space at 1500 Coalton Road. Since our last preview of the design plans, the restrooms have been moved toward the windowless center of the space, with offices taking their place on the back wall. A reception desk and children’s play area have been added to the front of the building near the entrance, and at my request, the bookcase wall separating the library area from the main entrance now has glass backing the spine to help mitigate noise bleeding into the library space. The upper mezzanine has an office space added for the Town’s Parks & Rec department. Ms. Johnson also shared a video walkthrough of the space that really helped bring it to life!

Our Board had almost exclusively positive feedback on the final design, and I will state that I am really happy with where we landed. We voted unanimously to approve the design.

Items 7 and 8 – Ordinance Around Oil and Gas Development

Our Board went into executive session with our attorney Matt Sura to discuss liability associated with amendments to our Superior Municipal Code around oil & gas development. We then came out of executive session and heard a presentation from Attorney Sura around the application from Highlands Natural Resources to frack under Superior in November 2018, and the history of local government regulations and changes over time. Superior would be the first town to use our powers under Colorado Senate Bill 181 to impose limitations on oil and gas development; as such, it’s likely that we’ll be under increased scrutiny and open ourselves up to potential lawsuits if what we propose does not fall under the rather ambiguous legal definition of “reasonable and necessary.”

At our Board meeting on February 10, we discussed an initial draft of the proposed new ordinances. Since then, the document has stayed largely the same (with a few changes in verbiage to make the language cleaner). At this meeting, we heard nearly forty-five minutes of extremely compelling public comment on the proposed changes. We heard from many residents and members of Safe Superior and the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans, with a few key recommendations for further changes to the draft: increase the minimum setback from 1000 to 2000 feet, add reclamation costs of $82,500 per well bore to the financial assurances section, and require operators to offset any emissions to protect degradation of Superior’s air quality.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time left for our Board discussion before our meeting end time at 11:00pm (which Trustee Sandie Hammerly and I did not vote to extend). We began talking about potentially increasing the residential setback from 1000′, and one member of the Board proposed a set of changes to what was drafted. But the clock was ticking, and while there were motions made to quickly vote, with only three minutes left in the meeting, I for one did not feel comfortable rushing through a decision. Instead, we decided to continue the discussion at our next meeting on April 13th. (We will have a special Board meeting this Friday, but its purpose is solely to consider resolutions adopting a remote meeting policy as well as declaring a local disaster emergency.) Right now, we have a moratorium in place on oil and gas to give us time to finalize our Municipal Code, but this moratorium expires on April 13 – so we will need to either make a decision then, or potentially extend the moratorium. Either way, I want to make sure we give this important issue the attention it deserves.

A major frustration with my role on the Board is the inefficiency of our Board meetings. I am a firm believer that you should never waste time in a meeting to cover something more appropriate to a simple email. Unfortunately, Colorado’s Sunshine Laws require that any discussion between more than two members of a governing body be open to the public – and emails do count as “discussion”. I would very much like to see our Town open up our emails to the public, as Fort Collins and Larimer County have done, and I would also like to see our state laws revised to allow for email discussion, provided that we begin publicizing all emails sent or received, and also ensure that there is opportunity for the public to weigh in before a decision is made. In this instance, it would have been incredibly helpful to hear from the public via email rather than in person, and also circulate proposed changes in advance rather than trying to do so verbally at the meeting.

Trying to make lemons out of lemonade, I am hopeful that the current COVID19 situation will provide impetus for everyone to figure out how we can get more done virtually. For example, I’m thrilled that we will be considering adoption of a remote meeting policy! I have also proposed that a discussion of our ways of working be put on a future Board agenda, though have not yet received any interest from the rest of the Board in doing so.

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.

I hope you and your family are staying home, staying healthy, and are feeling prepared for the coming weeks as we try to mitigate the risk of COVID19. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there is anything I can do to support you. Have a great week!

2 Responses so far.

  1. […] originally planned for this summer. Our Board approved the first phase of these improvements at our March 9th meeting. However, we are now considering adjusting the timeline for the second phase of the work, to get […]

  2. […] our March 9 meeting, we discussed proposed amendments to the Superior Municipal Code around oil & gas development; […]

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