Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

County Commissioners weigh in on issues


November 18, 2016

Editor’s note: Boulder County Commissioners Deb Gardner and Elise Jones were both reelected on Tuesday. In response to questions, they opted to send one letter representing their stance on issues that face the area. Following is their combined response.

They say that running for public office is the toughest job interview you’ll ever have, which makes running for re-election the most rigorous personnel evaluation you’ll ever go through.

So we were thrilled and humbled that you, the voters of Boulder County, chose by overwhelming margins to give us the opportunity to continue working for you for another four years. It’s a real honor to serve you and we want to express a heartfelt thank you for your support.

That said, we recognize that not everyone agreed with that outcome, and concerns remain about some of challenging issues that lie before us. We were elected to serve ALL of the residents of Boulder County, including those who disagree with our policy choices and cast a ballot for someone else. We are committed to listening to everyone, finding balance and compromise where possible, and when needed making hard decisions that may leave no one completely satisfied.

One of the outstanding challenges we face is how to secure funding to repave the subdivision roads in unincorporated Boulder County. At the request of some subdivision residents, we had put on the ballot a modest countywide tax increase to pay for this and other road projects. Unfortunately, Issue 1A failed by a margin of 46% to 54%.

We remain committed to solving this issue. The voters of Boulder County have spoken and they do not agree with new taxes for subdivision road rehabilitation. However, the margin of defeat was relatively close especially given the lack of an organized campaign for the measure. Also notable was the fact that 84% of Knollwood subdivision residents voted to increase their taxes to pay for about 70% of the cost of repaving their roads, with the County contributing the balance. We believe the solution lies in following Knollwood’s example by negotiating with individual subdivisions to arrive at a joint funding solution that includes contributions from subdivision residents as well as the County. We were just notified of a state accounting error with the special ownership tax, which will yield some unanticipated revenues that could provide a source of incentive funding for such negotiations. We pledge to increase our efforts to reach out to interested subdivisions to engage in constructive dialogue along these lines.

Another pending policy debate is the proposal to build affordable housing on the Twin Lakes parcels in Gunbarrel. It takes approval by the County Planning Commission, Board of County Commissioners, City Planning Board and City Council to change the land use designation of the Twin Lakes parcels from low to medium density residential in the pending update to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. The County Commissioners recently approved this change, citing our concerns about the County’s affordable housing crisis. The County Planning Commission initially approved it but then made an unprecedented decision to reconsider the matter since two members were absent for the vote. The date for this reconsideration has not been set yet. After the Planning Commission acts, the proposal will then be considered by the two city bodies. It’s important to note that a change in the comprehensive plan designation does not guarantee development of the project; the Boulder County Housing Authority would still need to seek approval from the City for annexation and site plan review – a future step involving significant public involvement, further analysis of site constraints such as hydrological issues, and specific design of the layout, height, density and massing of any buildings, as well as community amenities.

The County Commissioners acknowledge the concerns held by Twin Lakes residents and share the collective desire to protect the character of the neighborhood and adjacent Twin Lakes Open Space along with the wildlife it supports. We believe that if well designed with ample community input, the proposed project at Twin Lakes can provide much-needed homes to seniors, teachers and working families, as well as benefits to the existing neighborhood such as wildlife corridors and community parks and garden space that everyone can enjoy.

We look forward to the next four years as we work with all of you, the residents of Boulder County, to resolve these and other important challenges. Together we will arrive at solutions that serve us not only today but for generations to come.

Boulder County Commissioners Elise Jones & Deb Gardner.


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