Sunday, December 31, 2006
Long-time Town Manager Bruce Williams died in a car accident on December 19. As described in the Daily Camera, he arrived in Superior in 1990 as an intern when the town had 250 residents and worked up to the Town Manager position 11 years ago. The Board terminated his employment (no negative reasons given) in August.
The new Town Manager will have open space and recreation demands to deal with, the bad blood with Louisville from the library issue and a potential new town center on the horizon.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
According to Colorado Wireless Communities website, users of the network will pay the WiFi provider for service. "No taxpayer dollars will be used to build and operate the network. The network will be built using a model where a WiFi provider with the best proposal for the region will be awarded the contract to fund, build, and operate the network."
You can find several documents with information on this project on Colorado Wireless Communities website and you can listen to an interview about this on Colorado Matters.
I wrote earlier about Longmont's WiFi system already providing free (for now) service in that town. So how about Lafayette and Erie? (And Boulder seeing Longmont pull this off before them? Sure, the Pearl Street Mall has wireless, but still...)
Ubiquitous WiFi access will soon become another key community characteristic much like quality of schools and good transportation systems to attract and retain employers and residents. The CWC effort is a smart move for Louisville and Superior.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The Daily Camera highlights his return as well. He'll have a website up soon; currently you can sign up for his newsletter at www.bobbeauprez.com. The Daily Times Call quotes some of Beauprez's sentiments: asked how he felt about the lack of support he received from voters in his home turf, Beauprez said, “There’s no secret what Boulder County is like right now for Republicans.”
I'm curious if any proud Republicans have any thoughts on his return. Is it a factor at all in the local Republican Party's outlook on 2007?
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
While it can easily be described as sprawl. at least it will be Erie's sprawl. The discussion will involve changing the zoning of the parcel from agricultural to mixed use and low density residential. In the long run, the reality is that this stretch of Hwy 52 will be developed. By approving this annexation, Erie will set an eastern boundary that will provide a small portion of revenue (eventually, with a capital E) and more importantly puts a stake in the ground as to the town's growth boundary. Frederick officials are none to happy, however Erie is smart to move forward with this strategy of a good offense being the best defense. Now, if they can just get some commercial developers to notice them...
Read a few more details and see a map of the parcel in the Daily Times-Call.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I'll acknowledge the point made by those Superior residents who never use the library that they certainly weren't going to tax themselves for something they wouldn't use. Self-interest is to be expected and isn't, on an individual level, always something to condemn. You do what you gotta do.
However, the Superior Board of Trustees - the leaders of the community - removed library funding from the 2007 town budget intentionally. Since a good portion of their town DOES use Louisville's library, this is the kind of self-interest mooching that does deserve condemnation.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
There are organized groups in support and opposition to the annexation. I was one of those citizens called by a pollster a couple weeks ago asking various growth and quality of life related questions that were obviously hired by the annexation supporters. The questions referenced the decline Louisville has seen in its revenue since Home Depot opened in Boulder and asked a lot of questions to gauge my level of support/appreciation for jobs, development, open space, Lowe's in particular, traffic, etc. There was a particularly interesting question that remarked on the amount of sales tax a Lowe's would generate; another series of questions asked for my opinion of various officials.
I also received an email alert regarding a petition from ProgressNow.org that is seeking people's online signatures to oppose the opposition. See that link here.
Read their language with a skeptical eye. Words like "the only thing that separates Old Town Lafayette from explosive growth.." and "open the floodgates for contiguous strip malls..." are insultingly sweeping and unsubstantiated. At the very least, asking people to sign a petition based on a paragraph of information, with no references to further detail and context, is insulting to intelligent citizens. Give some kind of "click here for the facts" that we can assess and debate.
I'm researching the claims re: environmental impact of the proposed development. I perceive two reasons to vote against annexation: Blanket philosophical anti-growth mentality, or more specific anti-"this development and its impacts" rationale. I reject the former outright and I'm investigating the claims to the latter. I would guess the ProgressNow petition is aimed at those in camp #1 and those that live in the adjacent neighborhood.
Here's some background on the supporters and opposition in the Lafayette News.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The commitment involves a two- or three-year term. Given the District's history of spending decisions in the past, this volunteer effort may actually have a good turnout of applicants. Plus, being involved with this issue committee members can be certain whoever the new Superintendent is understands the priorities and agencies of the Bond's projects. (Dr. Garcia retires the end of this school year.)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The County will be fighting a lawsuit filed against it by the Hygiene Fire Protection District. The FD is upset the County will not accept, let alone consider, an application to change zoning on open space to allow for the construction of a fire station.
The all-volunteer Fire District has 50-sq. mile area to cover, and the parcel they're coveting will reduce response times and address needs of growing neighborhoods. However, the parcel was open space dedicated as part of a pricey residential development already approved for the Blue Mountain Vista development. The County calls foul on the developers wanting to switch this parcel from the open space designation.
In the Daily Times Call, FD board member Bill Nelson is quoted saying: “Their open space is more precious to them than just about anything. I think a public safety building is more important.”
This appears to be a worthy case to examine the trade-offs between alternate uses for open space and a hard-line stance of open space protection. Because the land the FD wants to use was otherwise planned to be a park, I wonder if the developers see this as a way to dodge a long-term maintenance requirement by handing the land over to the FD. If fire protection is a key to the new neighborhood, perhaps one home site can be donated instead of the open space.
Here's the version of the story in the Daily Camera.
Bottom line, does this have to be something fought over in court?
The WASH - "Watershed Approach to Stream Health" Project is a partnership of Boulder County, Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Erie and Superior. (Lafayette's non-involvement is a post for another time.) WASH is an effort to educate people on how to lessen their polluting habits re: natural watersheds.
Most people probably do not know it is illegal to allow any type of chemical to run off their property into stormdrains. This applies to residential and commercial property. This includes spraying off the side of a retail store and/or the sidewalk, rinsing a paint brush outside over pavement, any type of powerwashing going into the gutter, and more. These are federal watershed protection regulations, and WASH is a joint effort to let people know about the rules.
Each WASH community has an ordinance that says: "No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged into the storm drainage system or watercourses any materials other than stormwater." From lawnmower oil to Windex to 55-gallon drums of industrial solvents, they're all considered bad in the same way.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Water Quality Control Division grants stormwater permits to communities. If they don't meet the standards, they (the communities) can be fined. Of course, figuring out where pollutants are coming from is not always that simple. Tests showing toxins in Coal Creek don't tell you the source, which can be quite diverse and diffuse. Hence the proactive WASH education campaign.
Find out more at the WASH website. Read the "Who Are We?" section for deeper detail.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
On December 5, the Times-Call had editorialized that such "green building" should not be required. Unfortunately the T-C doesn't have that much of an online database, and it isn't available online anymore. (Hello, Times-Call? It's 2006.) Anyway, on Wednesday, the three Commissioners had an editorial "Special to the Longmont Times-Call" published. This is not online either.
Here's the gist of their comments from my point of view:
Because Boulder and Longmont are strengthening green building requirements, so should the County. Lafayette, Louisville and Superior will soon be considering them, and so should the County. The negative impacts of pollution are tangible, however we have numerous solutions available to combat inefficient energy use. That said, incentives for such solutions must also give way to mandates and requirements. But don't worry, the requirements will show a positive ROI - in most cases. No decisions have been made on the mix of voluntary and required building techniques. Energy budgets could be devised. Please come to our meeting with comments.
When the government of the County or a community wants to tell you what you can build with, I think people need to be at least aware of the discussions. You can find info on the public meetings about these proposals here.
As I've debated somewhat with Alex earlier, I'm not against all regulation; dangerous building materials should not be allowed, and the safety of design must be codified. But dictating efficiency standards as opposed to incentivizing them is too heavy-handed. It comes across as arrogant.
- At the bottom of each post is the "x" comments link. It shows a number and the word comments.
- Click on this to read current comments and/or to add your own.
- In the window that opens (unless you have a pop-up blocker), you'll see a Leave Your Comment box. Do so.
- Below this is an option "Choose an Identity".
- Choose "other".
- Make up a name in the name box, and use that each time you post a comment using these same steps. Don't add an email address unless you want to - it's optional.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Also, on the right side below my profile and the media links is a list of the most recent comments and who made them. (You'll notice many people aren't ready to give their name just yet - think up a clever alias at least!). You can see other comments this way and please respond. What's with the toilet paper comment re: Bill Simmons?
I talked about this back in October, as there are likely to be surveillance cameras set up around town as part of the wireless internet program. My post is here from October 3; unfortunately the article explaining the snooping potential is no longer available. Coincidence?
Louisville residents who wish to apply may submit a letter of interest to Mayor Chuck Sisk, 749 Main Street, Louisville, CO 80027. Deadline: January 5, 2007.
Monday, December 11, 2006
It makes me wonder why such issues are left vague by elected officials. Shouldn't the citizens be allowed to know what's happening with government employees? Any kind of unexpected transition that doesn't involve the person winning the lottery or having health issues just makes people wonder what's going on - and elected officials should say what it is.
I have no presumption of any scandal. But the vagueness of the scenario simply makes me curious. I can't be the only one. Why the secrecy? All it does is fuel the imagination, and Mr. Simmons likely deserves such speculation to end. When City Council is closed-lipped on the subject, it makes you wonder what they don't want us to know.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
(I can't create live links in the comments, so I'm adding it here.)
Alex had asked: "Is it better to saddle the well-to-do with additional regulation, since they can pay for it most easily? Or is it better to force those of modest income to pay a premium cost for green building, in the name of saving them more on energy costs in the long run? Instead of asking real questions about the mechanics of "green building" regulation, this post is a rant on, supposedly, property rights."
My gripe is that the county has already created numerous restrictions on the type of development a property owner in unincorporated county land can pursue. This is a key distinction between the Eagle Place development issue you raised, as that land is within a community's boundary and as such there should be a different level of expectation for the property's use. The details would still be different for each proposal, however I see them as fundamentally different. I'm willing to give a community some more regulatory authority than the County (unless we get into the architectural review discussion.)
The County is missing the point in its energy efficiency daze, much as Boulder started to do with the Climate Action Plan earlier this year. They equate sheer size and/or aggregate energy use with inefficiency, which for some people trails out on a continuum of immorality. I would argue the larger a home you want to build, the more it is in your best interest to build in an efficient manner. The County doesn't need to force you to do it. You literally pay the price if you build inefficiently.
I sense to some people, the size of some other people's homes seems absurd, and wasteful, and that's where the sentiment to get complex with land use regs comes from. If I had to make a sweeping choice, I would says government should not regulate building sizes. From that black/white choice, in reality I would work towards the center of regulations based on individual scenarios. The alternative mindset is government should regulate, and now a person needs convincing as to why not. I prefer to not trust government to make the best choice and debate why government regulation is necessary, not the other way around.
In an effort to encourage energy efficiency and reduce the County's overall greenhouse gas emmisions, the County wants to step way over the line and dictate how large a home someone can build. That's indefensible.
This issue picked up momentum last year following a citizen survey. Here were my concerns back in September 2005, excerpted from the Yellow Scene:
"The survey asked pointedly about large, single family homes: are such houses in the unincorporated areas "too big and should be restricted in size?" While 56% said no and 35% said yes, the nature of the question should disturb anyone who owns a home. Just asking this exposes a premise that large homes are inappropriate. "Too big" is way too vague a criteria to use in such a question. People can consider something "too big" based on all sorts of subjective motivations ranging from envy to ignorance.
Building on this notion of how some people know what is appropriate for others, the county asked if you think that the Land Use Code should be revised to "require environmentally friendly building practices...for houses above a certain number of square feet." That's a manipulative qualifier in the question. It is vague and means every respondent can create in his head an image of a house that is "above a certain number of square feet" that they think is deserving of further regulations. It leads to an unjustified presumption of support for such regulations, when no detail has actually been provided.
The bias against "larger homes" with larger not being defined is disturbing in these two questions. For those of you reviewing plans with your architect, heads up! 77% of the respondents agreed this would be a good idea.
Continuing in the we'll-tell-you-what-you-can-do mode, people said they favored regulations to strengthen historical preservation requirements (75%) and promote energy efficiency and use of renewable energy (89%). The County is hearing loud and clear that people support restrictive guidelines - for everyone else.
When asked a question that turns the thought process back towards themselves, the message Commissioners hear is the opposite. 72% said more emphasis should be placed on individual property rights. This response rate blows a big hole in the integrity of the previous answers. How can the County create policy based on such conflicting sentiments?"
Well, they're going to try. Is this good policy? No way.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
And lo and behold, the Urban Renewal District passed last night too.
The first story is that Erie will have a groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, December 9, 11:00 AM, for the Erie Community Library. It is located at the northeast corner of Leon A. Wurl Parkway and County Line Road. The 20,000 sq ft full service facility is scheduled for completion in late December of 2007.
Erie Mayor Andrew Moore says: "It was no easy feat getting to this point. It required a state law change, approval by the Boulder County Erie voters, and agreement from the Weld Library District that Erie was the place for the latest addition to their network of libraries. Many volunteers over a 18 month process made it all possible."
Erie had been paying Lafayette for its residents' use of their neighbors library, and they prioritized getting into the Weld County Library District - and paying to do so - so they could have their own library. Congrats to Erie for making it happen.
The second story shoots a big hole in the righteous leverage that Louisville should otherwise have over Superior to negotiate some kind of payment for services rendered at their library. A woman who checked out 65 books for homeschooling and was "confused" by the checkout policies racked up $650 in fines. This was negotiated down to $150, which was paid by an anonymous donor. The books were out for several months, depriving others from their use.
As one of the people helping to negitiate this slap on the wrist, Louisville Mayor Chuck Sisk was quoted as saying that philosophically the library should be open to everyone. Read the article here. It will be hard to keep a straight face demanding payment from Superior when they can point to such leeway and appeal to the philosophy of libraries being open to all.
Today and Tuesday's Daily Camera Letters to the Editor have various comments: shame on Louisville by Richard Savino, don't shop Superior by Rich Bradfield and the excuses for the vote offered by Annette and Dan Plutt.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
"Wal-Mart has struggled in recent months on a mix of problems, including the
fact that its lower-income customers were hurt by soaring gas prices. But
the company's lackluster sales have persisted even as the cost of gas eased,
an indication that there are other factors that are dragging down Wal-Mart's
results." The full Associated Press article is here.
Is there a small crack in the giant's fortress? Some market forces may be at work here that they haven't had to address before...
Yesterday, just in the nick of time, (whew, what a coincidence) Louisville received a consultant's study that shows the redevelopment plan will net the city $1.2 million per year, eventually. The study was done in the last two weeks to allay fears of Councilors who initially voted against it. After two years of planning, somehow the positive news for the prospects of the development just came together a day before the vote. What a holiday gift to proponents. I haven't seen the report's assumptions or details yet, so my skepticism may be unfounded. Ho Ho Ho! Details please, demands PreserveLouisville.
While the blight study, tax-increment financing and sheer scope of the URD has caught many people's attention, the Markel Homes development proposal has been a bit lower on the awareness list for residents. Perhaps because it is in the northeast corner of town, and the people who raised more of a stink live in Lafayette. Tonight Louisville could approve 350 homes and over 60,000 sq feet of commercial to the old Pow Wow grounds; east of the Black Diamond car wash on the north side of South Boulder Road.
A failed attempt to purchase or trade for a buffer between the development and Lafayette's western edge fell through when Louisville determined the area was not a priority for open space acquisition; the fact that Lafayette approved development right up to their border years ago and now wanted a buffer on Louisville's side didn't quite resonate as a priority either. On the plus side, the towns are working on linking up a trail system, and Hecla Lake will be somewhat preserved from development on all sides.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Note: I incorrectly posted this earlier today as an event hosted by Preserve Lafayette's Easten Edge (PLEE), which is a different group. I apologize for the confusion, which I'll write about after I clear it up with a few more calls.
Friday, December 01, 2006
In the face of a survey indicating that a library was the town's top priority, and Louisville getting more impatient, the Ballot issue was a savvy call. This could put off Louisville while waiting to see if people would really pay for this service they desire.
2A failed handily. The 65%-35% against represents over 1000 votes more than supporters.
Had Superior shown a willingness to commit some cash towards including a new library in a new town center development, or otherwise making such a building part of any future development, Louisville may have some incentive to be less concerned and more flexible with terms. Instead, Superior's smack-down of the library tax is a red flag to Louisville officials and taxpayers who should realize Superior's visits to their library are not about to diminish.
Those choices are not right or wrong, they simply show that most Superior residents prefer a community center to a library. Those wanting to browse the stacks can expect Louisville to charge them accordingly.
While my deadline was last week, it won't be out until next week. Turns out I'm not the only one dismayed by Superior's selfish decision. The Daily Camera editorial today rips them about it. And just to cement the point, Superior Trustees voted this week to remove a $75,000 payment to Louisville for library services from their 2007 budget. Louisville says the cost of services in 2007 to Superior residents equals about $288,000.
Even more pompous - Superior is forming a subcommitee to formulate a 2007 ballot proposal to fund a rec center. All this while saying they don't want to commit to a long term plan with Louisville for library funding.