NCA development scale
February 21, 2018
Recent infill development in downtown Niwot has prompted Boulder County land use officials to reconstitute the Old Town Niwot Design Review subcommittee. The subcommittee had lost members and stopped meeting over the years, but with the current development and recent proposals, county officials decided the committee should be active again.
New members of the subcommittee include Niwot Business Association members and Niwot business owners Pat Murphy (Niwot Real Estate), Tim Wise (Wise Buys Antiques), Nick Mastronardi (1914 House) and Margo Leach (Architect); Laura Skaggs from the Niwot Historical Society; Terry Larsen from the Niwot Community Association; Old Town Niwot residents Brad Langdon and Jim Thomas; and Historic Preservation Advisory Board member Jason Emery, who owns surveying company Boulder Land Consultants.
According to the Boulder County Land Use code, the design review subcommittee serves as a review board for development within the Niwot Historic District, which encompasses the first block of 2nd Avenue and the Bader House. It does not have the legal authority to grant certificates of appropriateness, but does make recommendations that must be considered by the county’s Historic Preservation Advisory Board.
The subcommittee also serves as a referral agency for development applications requiring Special Review within the Niwot Rural Community District I (NRCD I) which encompasses the entire commercial area along Second Avenue, Franklin and Murray streets.
The Southpaw Commons infill development at 240 2nd Avenue, already under construction, has prompted concerns from nearby residents about the scale of some of the buildings. The development includes a two-story commercial building fronting on 2nd Avenue, along with three attached two-story townhomes behind the new commercial building and an adjacent existing one-story bungalow building on 2nd Avenue, which is currently occupied by Nourish & Company. The townhomes are entered from the alley between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.
The Southpaw Commons redevelopment plan was approved by Boulder County Land Use in September 2016. Three 3rd Avenue residents sent written concerns about the townhouses included in the plan at the time, but county commissioners approved the project in October 2016. Construction began in late 2017. The developer is Postle Properties VI, LLC.
Third Avenue residents Brad Langdon and David Snow brought concerns about the proximity and size of the townhomes and the use of the alley to the Niwot Community Association board meeting on Feb. 7.
“The townhouses are built close to the alley and the second floor windows look directly into people’s backyards on 3rd Avenue, so there’s no privacy,” Langdon said. “The buildings also are tall enough to block the sunlight in the winter, taking away sunny winter backyards and windows.”
Previously, Langdon said, new buildings constructed on 2nd Avenue had an alley setback creating parking areas behind the building to soften the visual impact on 3rd Avenue homes. “This development creates a precedent we don’t want,” he said.
Residents are also concerned about the unpaved alley being used for drainage and traffic into the townhomes. “The water will just puddle in 3rd Avenue backyards because of the slope,” Langdon said, “and the residential traffic will worsen the condition of the alley.”
Langdon said 3rd Avenue residents are also concerned about a proposal to build a total of four residential units behind 280 and 290 2nd Avenue, known as the Slater development. That proposal, also from Postle Properties, is currently on hold.
Langdon asked NCA members to “help us lessen the impact” of the developments on neighbors. “These developments could change the character of Niwot’s downtown,” he said.
NCA board members agreed to look into the matter.