Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy

20-year City-County IGA approved


September 7, 2017

Both the Boulder County Board of Commissioners and the City of Boulder have agreed to sign a new 20-year inter-governmental agreement which keeps some, but not all of the county’s veto power over changes in land use decisions outside of the city limits.

The previous agreement, which required approval by Boulder City Council, Boulder Planning Board, Boulder County Commissioners, and Boulder County Planning Commission, for land use changes on the edge of the Boulder city limits for land expected to be annexed, was set to expire at the end of this year, while the new one effectively turns many situations into a three-body review — cutting out the Boulder County Planning Commission’s decision-making authority.

“Instead of going through the process of having to go through all four bodies every time, there is just one step where the county will have that role,” County Land Use Director Dale Case said. “It streamlines it and kind of defines the process. It makes it a lot clearer, and it gets the county involved at the point where we need to be in the decision-making authority.”

Case said this change basically boils down to a procedural change in the planning reserve area, and that the county commissioners will still get input from the county planning commission before making decisions.

“That essentially makes it a three-body review,” Case said. “But as a county, we would want our planning commission’s input on any of these matters. We would incorporate them into it if something is called up.”

By ‘called up,’ Case is referring to the fact that the City of Boulder previously was able to make land use changes without county input if the property was in the process of annexation.

The new IGA allows for the county to intervene with or without annexation of a property, but the county’s planning commission has no longer has any decision-making authority in Area II, which includes Gunbarrel.

“The county commissioners can review any land use designation that they’re concerned about,” Case said. “They could call that up and have a decision-making role whether or not annexation is involved. It makes it consistent, but it does reduce the number of review bodies.

Changes in Area III, which includes 680 acres north of Boulder, will still require four-body approval. That land is not currently slated for annexation.

Case said that the new IGA also included changes to the “blue line,” the area in which the City of Boulder can provide public water service.

The agreement includes expansions of that line in some areas as the city is expanding.

“The initial lines on that were drawn a long time ago,” Case said. “As things have progressed, we’ve had to look at that line to see how it affects some parcels. Voters approved the minor changes to the blue line, but to get that, there had to be some changes to the comprehensive plan.”

Case said that all of these provisions work together to keep the best interests of county residents in mind while planning ahead for the inevitable growth of the city.

“The city and county both see at the end that the long-term commitment helps give people some stability and predictability in what the processes will look like,” Case said. “There was some talk about shortening the term, but I think the longer it is, the better it is to fully implement a plan. I think it will really benefit the communities in the long run.”


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