Boulder County is now accepting applications for the Niwot Design Review Committee, a panel of local residents that serves as a referral agency for new development applications in the town’s historic district.
The county is seeking five new members for the board, which meets on an as-needed basis to review new building proposals for compliance with design and aesthetic standards that preserve the historic character of downtown Niwot (paint color, building materials, signage). The NDRC then makes recommendations to the county’s Historic Preservation Advisory Board, which has the legal authority to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness, a requirement for obtaining a building permit in the historic block.
Members of the NDRC will serve three-year terms. The county is hoping to seat at least one representative from the local community organizations (Niwot Business Association, the Niwot Community Association, and the Niwot Historical Society). However, anyone who has lived or worked in the area for more than five years is eligible to apply.
“The application is open to everyone—members that are currently on the committee or anyone in the public,” county planner Jose Ruano said.
The NDRC is undergoing an overhaul. Created in 1994 when the Niwot Rural Community District and historic block were established, the committee played a key role in the development of many downtown Niwot landmarks, such as the Niwot Inn and the Lockwood building.
“If the county hadn’t come in and designated a historical district and made it more vibrant, then Niwot would have been just a dying town,” said Pat Murphy, owner of Niwot Real Estate. Murphy is a longtime member of the NDRC, but doesn’t plan to reapply for one of the openings.
She explained that the committee’s goal isn’t “to be the Gestapo” or design anyone’s building, but to help balance the needs of business owners, residents, and visitors.
“My goal was that development melds and blends well with the existing buildings and retains the historic character,” she said. “Ultimately, we hope that the developers will be respectful and design a building that fits in with the community... Don’t make us have to make a hard decision.”
The NDRC’s profile diminished over the last decade as development in Niwot’s historic area slowed, and it has been largely dormant over the past three years. It’s now getting a second look from the county, after new Land Use codes provisions were adopted in April. Among them were new guidelines for the NDRC, which will now have a more formal role throughout the special review process.
“It worked well before, but with the more intense development, I think it was harder,” Murphy said. “Now with the new regulations, the county wants it to be a more formal thing.”
The deadline to apply for a spot on the Niwot Design Review Committee is Thursday, August 8. Finalists will be interviewed by the county commissioners, who will then select the five-member panel.
The county is also recruiting for positions on other countywide advisory boards and commissions. To view descriptions and requirements or to apply online, visit www.boco.org/BoardVacancies.
For more information, call the Boulder County Commissioners’ Office at 303-441-3501.