Virtual Town Board Meeting: February 22, 2021

Virtual Town Board Meeting: February 22, 20219 min read

Hi neighbors! In Monday night’s Town Board Meeting, we heard an update from RTD and discussed northwest area light rail; reviewed and approved the CAPS and Planning Commission work plans; revised our oil & gas setback requirements; made appointments to our Planning Commission and ACES; discussed a potential affordable housing development at McCaslin Park-n-Ride and the financing required; discussed but ultimately did not change our current meeting end time policy; and went into Executive Session with our Town Attorney to receive legal advice regarding the purchase of property for Open Space purposes. 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. At the request of my fellow Board members, I am keeping their points anonymous. For the most unbiased and complete information, I encourage residents to watch the meeting video and draw their own conclusions – visit the town website at SuperiorColorado.gov for the official meeting video and meeting minutes.

Item 2D – Board Reports

During Board reports, Trustee Tim Howard remarked on the importance of us continuing to wear masks, social distance, and take precautions so that we can close out the COVID19 pandemic strong. I want to echo this sentiment! For those who are eligible for the vaccine but have not yet been able to make an appointment, check out this vaccine finder site, which scrapes available appointments at nearly all the hospitals and pharmacies across Colorado.

Our Town Manager Matt Magley introduced our newly-hired Economic Development Manager, Jill Mendoza. Ms. Mendoza is a certified economic developer who is excited to help us realize the vision we have for the Town of Superior. I am thrilled to welcome her to our Town Staff!

Item 2E – Public Comment

During public comment, Brad Walker spoke up with concerns about Board member comments on tactics for addressing noise at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.

Item 2F1 – Presentation – RTD Directors

Next, Regional Transportation District (RTD) Directors Lynn Guissinger & Erik Davidson joined to share some updates on public transportation for District O, which represents the northernmost portion of the RTD area.

One of our main discussion topics was the desire of the community to have light rail connecting District O to Denver (as described here). While I am extremely frustrated that we have been paying for this light rail through a tax increase for years, I don’t think it makes sense for us to move forward with it any longer. With such an extended delivery timeline, I think by the time it’s built, demand will have dropped significantly due to the proliferation of autonomous vehicles. I want our towns to get what we are owed – but as I said to Directors Guissinger and Davidson, I’d like to see the money our town has paid in reallocated for another use that benefits our community specifically (like perhaps the expansion of the FlexRide buses that solve the last mile problem from homes in Superior to the RTD bus stop on 36).

Item 2F2 – Presentation – CAPS Committee Work Plan

Next, we heard from Cultural Arts and Public Spaces (CAPS) committee Chair Terrye Whittaker and Vice Chair David Weingarden, who presented the CAPS Committee Work Plan for the year in order to solicit Board feedback. The bulk of the comments from the Board were about the Art Path that will someday wind through the town, with some suggested adjustments to ensure the Art Path goes through the whole community. CAPS will also seek additional feedback from the community. The Board voted unanimously to approve the work plan.

Item 3 – Consent Agenda

Next, our Board unanimously passed the consent agenda – including meeting minutes, and an agreement with Murraysmith Inc for design services for the water treatment plant.

Item 3C, the Planning Commission Work Plan, was pulled to discuss removing the bullet around allowing ADUs (since that was done at our January 25 meeting). Planning Commission Chair Bob McCool also suggested potentially pushing out the updating of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan. With these changes, the work plan passed unanimously.

Item 3D, potential participation in a Boulder Consortium of Cities Joint Letter, was pulled for discussion by Mayor Clint Folsom. I agreed with Mayor Folsom and did not support Superior signing this letter to Governor Polis, which would request a number of actions to ensure housing stability for Colorado residents impacted by the pandemic. While I certainly support housing stability, I had concerns that the actions provide protection for renters but do nothing to provide protection for landlords. Landlords are not necessarily big corporations who can accept the economic hit that an eviction moratorium would take on them; many are individuals. Last year, Colorado Public Radio pointed out that “there’s no specific aid for landlords and people who pay mortgages. People who rely on their rental properties for income are in a tight situation, with the cascade of job losses now threatening their own financial stability.” To my chagrin, the motion to support this letter passed 5-2, with Mayor Folsom and I as the dissenting votes.

Item 3F, a new ordinance to increase the oil & gas setback requirements, was also pulled for discussion. Our existing regulations include setbacks of 1,000 feet from trails and surface water, and a 1,500 feet setback from Town boundaries, residential units, public facilities, parks, etc.
Recently the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) adopted a 2,000 foot setback from schools and a 2,000 foot setback from homes, so we considered matching that change, and voted unanimously to approve.

Item 4 – Appointments to Planning Commission

Over the last few Board meetings, we’ve interviewed four residents for potential appointment to the Planning Commission – Bryan Kinderman, Laurence Rose, Jennifer Kaaoush, and Jason Serbu. As there were two vacancies, our Board voted by written ballot prior to this meeting, and Town Clerk Phyllis Hardin announced that Jason Serbu and Laurence Rose had been appointed. We voted unanimously to make the appointments.

Item 5 – Appointments to ACES

Over the last few Board meetings, we’ve interviewed four residents for potential appointment to the Advisory Committee for Environmental Sustainability (ACES) committee – John Craven, Michelle Gazarik, Miles Hoffman, Lauren Wheeler. As there were two vacancies, our Board again voted by written ballot prior to this meeting, and Town Clerk Phyllis Hardin announced that Miles Hoffman and Michelle Gazarik had been appointed. We voted unanimously to make the appointments.

Item 6 – Affordable Housing at RTD McCaslin Park-n-Ride

Next, Scott Holton shared an overview of Element Properties’ extensive local experience in developing affordable housing, and presented ideas for redevelopment opportunities at the McCaslin Park-n-Ride location – seeking our input and interest in public-private partnership opportunities to finance a development project of this type. You may view the presentation here.

Mr. Holton said that a minimum of 100 units would make this viable, and Element Properties would likely need a subsidy of $75-100K per unit… so we’d be looking at $7.5-10M in total subsidies. For comparison, in a 2015 Boulder project by Element Properties, the City of Boulder paid a $15M subsidy – but we are nowhere near the size or budget of Boulder. To create these 100 units in Superior with a $75K subsidy for each, we’d need $1666 from every single household in Superior. (To be clear – we would almost certainly not fund this exclusively through property taxes, but I do think it’s valuable to think about town expenses on a per-household basis, particularly since there is opportunity cost for any town funding.) To me, this is far too much for our small town to support – and even if we were able to secure outside funding for half of that, which is a pretty lofty goal, that’s still a steep $800 per household.

When it comes to affordable housing in Superior more generally, I have major concerns that using Superior dollars to subsidize affordable housing will really just subsidize Boulder, Denver, and Broomfield. In my opinion, the main reason to deploy subsidies for affordable housing is when people can’t afford to live where they work and businesses are struggling to attract workers as a result (e.g., in cities like New York and San Francisco). But we simply do not have enough businesses in Superior for this labor shortage to be the case. As I’ve stated before, I support affordable housing in Superior if and only if we require residents of Superior’s affordable housing to actually work in Superior – not if they work in Boulder or Denver and want to use Superior as a bedroom community from which to commute. It’s not acceptable to me to spend significant Superior taxpayer dollars to subsidize housing costs for workers in other communities.

Item 7 – Meeting End Time Policy

Next, we (once again) discussed changing our meeting end time policy. I was extremely frustrated that we were having this discussion once more, as we’ve discussed it numerous times before (most recently on February 1st, and previously on April 27th).

I won’t repeat all my previously stated points around why we are less effective at making decisions late at night; you can read the above linked blog posts for that. However, I want to reiterate that rather than wasting more time trying to decide how late to allow our Board meetings to run, we need to figure out how to make our meetings shorter and more efficient. Today, our meetings are often a series of monologues as we “go down the line” of our Board for opinions, but to me, the true value in meeting is discussing, rethinking, and building consensus. Otherwise, I could simply spend five minutes voting and then publish a blog post to justify my votes after the fact! If we’re going to spend hours meeting, let’s spend the time collaborating and working together on creative solutions and compromises, rather than spending hours individually pontificating.

The motion to change our current meeting end time policy failed 4-3, with Trustees Tim Howard, Neal Shah, Paige Henchen, and I as the nay votes, and Mayor Clint Folsom, Mayor Pro Tem Mark Lacis, and Trustee Ken Lish in support.

Item 8 – Executive Session

Finally, we went into Executive Session with our Town Attorney to receive legal advice regarding the purchase of property for Open Space purposes.

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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