Virtual Town Board Special Meeting and Retreat: June 29, 20209 min read
Hi neighbors! In Monday night’s Town Board Special Meeting, we voted no to rezone the Zaharias property to residential, and held our quarterly Board Retreat to discuss construction updates in Downtown Superior, canceling our annual Chili Fest, the possibility of shifting from virtual meetings to in person, the PROST Master Plan, adjusting our Committee structure, potentially decreasing our current property tax credit, a Twenty is Plenty campaign to reduce the speed limit in residential areas, increasing our tree planting, implementing plastic bag fees, and our agreement with Rocky Mountain Fire Department. Ready to find out more on what happened? As usual, you may read this post in written form, subscribe to the Laura for Superior podcast, 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!
Item 3 – Consent Agenda
We kicked off the meeting by unanimously approving the agenda for the meeting, as well as the one item on the consent agenda – a resolution approving Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) funds. Boulder County expects to be allocated $27.9M from federal CARES act funding; this resolution approves the allocation within Boulder County on a per capita basis using a population-based formula, and Superior expects to receive $567K. To date, Town staff have identified approximately $250K in expenditures that we believe will qualify for reimbursement – including the Emergency Small Business Assistance Grants, personnel, retrofitting facilities with protective screens and other measures, disinfecting facilities, and personal protective equipment.
Item 4 – Potential Rezoning for the Parq at Rock Creek
As our main topic for this special meeting, we considered a final subdivision plat (FP) and final plat site plan (FPSP) for the Parq at Rock Creek, on the 24-acre property commonly referred to as “the Zaharias property”, between highway 36 and 88th Street. The proposed FP would divide the land into one 15.4-acre development lot (Lot 1, Block 1); one publicly dedicated tract of land (Tract A) at 3.8 acres for use as open space; two privately owned tracts of land for use as open space and storm detention; and 0.97 acres of publicly dedicated right-of-way (ROW) along the eastern edge of S. 88th St. This land is currently all zoned as Commercial, though it has never been developed, so some members of the community erroneously believe it is Open Space. In conjunction with this is a request to zone Lot 1, Block 1 to Residential, so that the applicant could build 180 apartments along with the associated private streets, public and private utilities, as well as landscaping and site improvements.
I went into this meeting very undecided on the rezoning request, in particular. While I would love for Superior to have more commercial business, I was concerned that we already have a lot of empty storefronts in town (even before COVID19). If we can’t get our current residents to spend their dollars in Superior, would adding more retail really help? And, would it cannibalize the future Downtown Superior? But a member of the Board pointed out in the meeting that while retail may not be a good fit for this property, there may be other commercial uses that could work – we just don’t know what viable options exist, since the land owner has only proposed this use. I decided that we haven’t exhausted those possibilities enough to require a rezoning, and I would prefer not to make this forever residential when there might still be viable uses for this under the Regional Activity Center (RAC) zoning recommended in our Town’s Comprehensive Plan.
We began with a vote on the rezoning, since the content of the application would be moot if the Board did not approve the rezoning to residential. The Board voted 6-1 to keep the current zoning as RAC, with Mayor Clint Folsom as the dissenting vote – so after three meetings, that concluded this agenda item.
Finally, I’d like to note that I received literally hundreds of emails over the last few weeks asking me to preserve this property as “Open Space”. I was not legally permitted to respond while the application was pending. However, I would now like to ensure residents understand that with this vote, the property will not be zoned as Open Space; it continues to remain zoned as RAC (a commercial zoning), and the property owner can put in a development application for an approved commercial use at any time. Our Board cannot impose a rezoning on the property owner any more than we could tell a resident that we are rezoning their home for Open Space; the property owner would need to ask us to consider rezoning this land for Open Space.
After the Special Meeting, we went into our quarterly Board retreat, and discussed the following topics:
- Update from Morgan-Ranch on Downtown Superior – COVID19 has put a lot of the financing on pause; there is concern about attracting financing due to the amount of required commercial use and perceived risk of long-term vacancy. We had a discussion about how we might be able to provide more flexibility on our current FDP, to help them attract financing – specifically, Morgan-Ranch proposed a new alternative that cut the mixed-use square footage from 30,204 square feet to 14,554 square feet, and increased the number of live-work units from 21 to 34. (The amount of standalone retail square footage would remain constant at 21,200 square feet.) Our Board had very strong negative feedback to this plan, with a general consensus that we are willing to wait to ensure that Downtown Superior is done right, with the commercial core our residents are eager for.
- Parks in Downtown Superior – We reviewed potential plans for Parks 1 and 2 in Downtown Superior, and provided feedback that a splash pad or other water amenity for kids is extremely important to us.
- Chili Fest – We provided direction to Town Staff to cancel the in-person Chili Fest, and instead move forward with planning virtual options. Town Staff has been considering a drive-in movie or a drive-in concert; I suggested that we try to save taxpayer dollars rather than forcing ourselves to put something together for the sake of having something virtual. However, if we do move forward with an event, I suggested that I’d rather see a drive-in concert, since there are other drive-in movie events being held in the area.
- Virtual meetings for July – There was a question as to whether we should continue to hold meetings virtually or move back to in person at Town Hall; we quickly decided to continue to meet virtually.
- PROST Master Plan Update – We heard an update on the PROST Master Plan from PROS Consulting; the presentation may be viewed here. We had some discussion of whether it makes sense to proceed with public engagement during COVID19, and agreed to individually provide feedback to the Town Manager so that we could move on to other items.
- Committee structure – On the topic of PROSTAC, we also discussed the committee structure, and specifically considered combining PROSTAC and OSAC. There is already a very strong relationship and overlap between the two, and both committees currently have vacancies. We also discussed a few new committees we’d like to potentially see form – I suggested a technology, information, and communications committee (as initially proposed by resident Sean Maday at our January 13, 2020 meeting), and another member of the Board suggested a recreational programming committee. We decided to push the OSAC / PROSTAC combination to our August meeting, but delay the discussion of forming new committees to our next retreat.
- Property tax credit – We are able to levy up to 12.127 property tax mills for operating expenses, but only currently levy 7.93 property tax mills. We discussed whether to begin levying additional mills – a one mill increase (or $36 per year for a $500,000 home) would result in ~$250K in annual property tax revenues for the Town. Personally, I am not eager to increase property taxes for residents at this difficult time, particularly when we haven’t identified a reason for doing so (e.g., a budget shortfall).
- Twenty is Plenty – Our Transportation & Safety Committee is tentatively supportive of an initiative to reduce the speed limit in residential areas from 25mph to 20mph; we wanted to get the opinions of the full Board. We were supportive of moving forward to put this on a Board meeting agenda and solicit public feedback.
- Tree replacement – Our Town of Superior Tree Plan outlines removal and replacement of approximately 200 trees each year; a member of the Board suggested that we step up our replacement efforts and seek to increase our tree planting, and we were all supportive.
- Plastic bag fees – We discussed potentially implementing a fee for single-use plastic bags. While I am generally supportive of this initiative, I think now is the wrong time to implement it. Due to COVID19, most stores will not allow you to bring in reusable bags, which can result in confusion (e.g., in Boulder, the bag fees are waived; in Vail, they are not). I suggested we not spend staff time on this until it’s a better time to implement – that is, sometime in mid-2021.
- Rocky Mountain Fire District – Rocky Mountain Fire District and Mountain View Fire and Rescue are in the middle of a merger; we discussed how we can ensure through our service agreements that we will continue to get the same great service we have always received.
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 email@example.com, or to me specifically at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.