Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Letter to the Editor


September 21, 2017

To the Editor:

Taxation Without Representation?

Thanks to the LHVC for letting people know about recent (radical) changes to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) and Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA)—changes that could greatly affect Gunbarrel and Niwot.

Since 1977, Boulder has had four governing bodies — the county commissioners, county planning commission, city council, and city planning board — reviewing changes to the BVCP. During the current BVCP update, however, the commissioners and city council have made three big changes to the BVCP:

1. The four-body review process has been eliminated for county lands in the planned service area (aka, Area 2 lands). This includes most of Gunbarrel and lands such as Hogan-Pancost and CU South.

The city now has unilateral control over land-use changes for these county lands, even though they are unincorporated and might never annex. The county commissioners and planning commission have no vote (though the commissioners have a “call up” option for parcels over 5 acres).

Land-use designations determine zoning and permitting. That means the city council will be determining allowed zoning for county lands; and impacted county citizens will have no representative to whom they can turn. Thousands of county citizens, who have always had a muffled voice, now have no voice at all.

2. City council can now unilaterally convert Rural Preservation Areas (called Area 3) under 5 acres into lands slated for annexation and development (Area 2). The Commissioners have a call-up option for parcels larger than 5 acres, except for unincorporated neighborhoods like Knollwood, over which the city also has gained sole control.

3. The BVCP amendment procedures have been moved from the BVCP to the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). The IGA is one of the agreements that makes the BVCP binding. The Super IGA also makes it binding.

Now, only two bodies will control how and who changes the BVCP. The City Council and county commissioners have the keys to the entire BVCP, a departure from the last four decades of Boulder planning. If the two bodies at any particular moment choose, they can eliminate the Planning Board’s and Planning Commission’s roles entirely.

At the public hearing, former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Dickey Lee Hullinghorst and many other notable people spoke out strongly in favor of keeping four-body review for these lands. But the County Commissioners turned a deaf ear, claiming they needed to do this because the IGA was expiring...never mentioning that the Super IGA extends until 2023.

These are strange times for democracy in Boulder County!

Matt Samet



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