Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Board of Commissioners approves Boulder Valley Comp Plan

 

August 4, 2017



At its July 26 hearing, the Boulder County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the 2015 Major Update to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP), and accepted the recommendation from the Planning Commission to retain four-body review for Area III Planning Reserve changes as a condition of renewal of the intergovernmental agreement (IGA). The commissioners also voted to approve land use designation changes in CU-South, paving the way for annexation by the city and future development in the 308-acre parcel southwest of U.S. 36.

Commissioners Cindy Domenico, Deb Gardner and Elise Jones had few questions for city and county planners during the efficient 74 minute meeting, but they did have a few last-minute edits. Like the Planning Commission a week earlier, the Board approved the CU-South changes and guiding principles with no formal amendments, but added language concerning safety standards and flood mitigation efforts.

When discussion turned to the IGA and four-body review, the Board made it clear that preserving the “close and productive working relationship” between the City and County was their top concern, even though it required a number of “good faith compromises” on both sides. Without a formal agreement in place, the County would lose most of its veto power over city annexations and other land-use policies, and County residents would lose their elected representation in such matters.

“It’s incredibly important that we come out of this with a renewed IGA,” said Jones. Citing the “annexation wars” between Erie and Lafayette after both withdrew from similar cooperative arrangements, she continued, “We have a very clear example of what happens when we don’t have an IGA in place. It’s the exact opposite of what we want.”

All three commissioners expressed their strong support for the notion of four-body review, but acknowledged that “streamlining” the decision-making process made sense in certain situations. For example, most Area II (unincorporated) parcels have been annexed in the years since the first BVCP was adopted in 1977, so there’s less risk of a city-county conflict over future development in these areas. In the updated IGA, land use decisions in Area II will be made by the City Council and Planning Board, with “call-up” to the BOCC if requested.

Like the Planning Commission, however, the Board balked at curbing the county’s role in reviewing proposed service area expansions in the Area III Planning Reserve, a nearly 700-acre area north of Boulder that is currently off-limits to development but could be annexed to absorb future urban growth.

“They key thing is making sure that we still have the full four-body review ability around the planning reserve because there is potential for significant regional impact,” said Domenico. “I think it’s vital that we do have the full set of voices in place for that process.”

Gardner agreed, “I think it’s important that the whole community have a chance to weigh in on those things that are biggest potential for changes in the county.”

The Board voted 3-0 to renew the IGA with four-body review intact for Area III Planning Reserve, acknowledging that accepting the condition adds another wrinkle to the final approval of the BVCP, namely, getting the City Council to approve the latest iteration of the IGA. Ultimately, board members felt that leaving the process in place for Area III changes was in the best interests of County residents.

“We want to make sure they understand how important we believe this is,” said Domenico.

 

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