Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Niwot Business Association presents ten-year plan to LID board

 

February 15, 2019



As a part of their last update to the Niwot Strategic Plan in 2017, the LID advisory board tasked the Niwot Business Association with developing a forward-looking “vision” to help guide funding decisions and planning over the next 10 years. NBA representatives finally unveiled that vision at the board’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“It’s not a committed plan, and it’s not an approved plan,” NBA president Tony Santelli said while introducing Niwot Vision: 2029. “It’s a vision view will evolve over time. It puts a stake in the ground in responding to the question of being vibrant and sustainable while maintaining character and charm. It gives one a framework when you’re making investment decisions.”

Santelli then turned the presentation over to NBA member and commercial real estate broker Jim Ditzel, who steered the vision committee following the departure of former Niwot economic development director Julie Ankenbrandt.

Ditzel began by explaining that attracting new retail businesses to a town like Niwot is difficult due to competition from the internet, and suggested two potential arrangements that might make help make it more attractive. The first he termed “front of the house/back of the house”, where a professional services help support a retail operation on the same property, much like Anne Postle’s Osmosis Art & Architecture, which is part art gallery, part architecture firm.

The second type he called “experiential.”

“It’s creating an experience around what the retail offerings can provide,” Ditzel said. “With that, we need to create places for the experiences to happen. So a big light bulb went off about what we call ‘hubs.’.…The premises of these hubs is that they will create foot traffic….Children’s Park is a shining example of a successful hub. It’s a park, but it’s also a place for community interaction and it brings people to Niwot.”

Ditzel then listed 10 of these potential hubs that would be located throughout town and connected by “pedestrian/bicycle paths that can run up and down or along Niwot.”— a splash park, a community pool, a community collective space (e.g. Rayback Collective in Boulder), a skate park, a skating rink, a dog park, a climbing wall, a ninja warrior playground, a co-working space, and a library/information center.

“We don’t know which of these hubs will take place, but the idea is the hub is the traffic generator and around the hub will be retail in support,” Santelli explained further. “It will be a natural flow….The traffic is there, and now the retail has incentive to build around the traffic, taking advantage of whatever the hub is about.”

Ditzel and Santelli continued to stress that Niwot Vision 2029 is aspirational in nature, and said the community will determine which, if any, hubs become reality. They announced plans to form work groups in the coming weeks, in hopes of recruiting “champions” willing to lead one or more of these projects.

Santelli then asked the board to add the vision document as an addendum to the Niwot Strategic Plan, and they agreed to do so at a future meeting, once new members are installed.

The board heard next from representatives from the Boulder County Land Use Department who are reaching out to community groups ahead of upcoming changes to two key sections of the county’s comprehensive plan that have been largely untouched for decades.

“The comp plan is the county’s primary policy document to guide land use decision making,” long-range planner Christy Wiseman said. “It’s really aspirational policies of what they county as an entity believes in terms of land use. It covers lots of different topic areas and it’s a long range document. The comp plan was first adopted in the 70s, and a lot of the existing elements are quite old.”

The county is planning substantial updates to the housing and economics sections of the comp plan, both of which were last updated more than 30 years ago. These updates will then be used in to inform future updates to the land use code, planned for later this year.

Among the ”topic buckets” targeted for revision in the housing section are short-term rentals, accessory dwelling units, farm worker housing, and affordable housing. In the economics section, planners are revising provisions on rural versus urban areas and maintaining a “compact development pattern.”

Wiseman said that planners are hoping to have a study session with the county planning commission in April, where they will present draft ideas “to test the temperature of how they’re feeling.” Until then, they will be conducting community outreach in order to learn more about how changes to the comp plan might impact unincorporated areas of the county. She invited the LID board to submit a policy statement on behalf of the community or to submit comments as individuals via the county’s website (https://bit.ly/2QxgOAD).

The meeting then got on with more conventional business, starting with the treasurer Bruce Rabeler’s report.

He reported that the LID has pledged $38,401 in funding for 2019, or about 29 percent of its budget, assuming the pending request from the NCAA is approved. That leaves just under $95,000 in the budget, with 10 months remaining in the year.

He also provided an update of district revenues through November 2018. The LID collected $14,588 for the month, up about 10 percent from the same period the year before ($13,254). This results in a slight year-over-year gain (0.7 percent) for 2018, despite fears of a decrease due to the loss of Colterra and Powder Keg. However, he did note that collections from the retail business category outpaced the accommodation/foot service category for the first time in several months.

The board then moved on to the night’s sole funding request, which was presented by member Anne Postle, wearing her Niwot Cultural Arts Association (NCAA) hat. She asked for $2,453.61 to cover the projected non-alcohol related expenses for the fifth annual Wine About Winter Celebration, scheduled for Feb. 23. This was approved unanimously, though LID member Biff Warren abstained.

In Old Business, county liaison Mark Ruzzin provided an update on the selection process for new board members to fill three upcoming vacancies. So far, nine candidates have applied for the openings, left by the departure of resident Jay Champion and business community representatives Harris Faberman, who resigned after selling Cottonwood Square shopping center late last year; and Carrie Wise, who will reach the end of a second five-year term on Feb. 28. The county commissioners are currently reviewing applications and will make their appointments later this month.

The board then formally said goodbye to Wise, who was among the board’s earliest members.

“We started with nothing,” she said. “We had no money. And now we have $130,000 to do something with. It’s amazing to me, it really is.”

The Committee will meet next at 7 p.m. on Mar. 5 at the Mountain View Fire Station.

 

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