July 12, 2019
Development Moratorium Nixed
On June 25 Councilmember Joan Peck made a motion to lift the development moratorium in Longmont, but since the Council had never actually imposed a moratorium, the motion was unnecessary, said Mayor Brian Bagley. Peck said she’d heard concerns from developers that prompted her to make the motion.
Councilmember Tim Waters said he never intended to ask for a moratorium. He said his intent was to ask for a “time-out.” He argued the reporting on previous discussions was confusing. Mayor Pro Tem Polly Christensen wanted clarification from her council colleagues, saying, “does this mean we can never have a delay on development?” Ultimately, the Council voted unanimously to approve a motion stating there would be no moratorium now, which hopefully ends this confusing and damaging discussion.
Affordable Housing Project Moves Forward
The City Council gave final approval in a unanimous vote for an ordinance approving the vacation of access and utility easements for the Kinzie project, otherwise known as Lot 2, Main Street Center, in spite of neighborhood opposition.
In addition, the Council also approved a resolution to accept the developer’s voluntary agreement to satisfy Longmont’s inclusionary housing requirements (IZ). The project, which will now be known as 2021 Kimbark, will include 44 rental studio apartments. The developer has offered to deed-restrict 10 of those units for lower-income residents. Mayor Brian Bagley was the sole no vote on the resolution. He said the units (300 SF) were too small and he worried about “sticking poor people into shoe boxes.”
2021 Kimbark is one of the first developments to test the Council’s resolve to get more affordable units in the city. The vacation easements and affordable housing agreement are the only aspects of the project that require Council approval. The development application is currently being reviewed by a staff team, which will provide its recommendation to Community Development Director Joni Marsh. She will have the authority to decide if the project is approved.
Council Upholds Appeal
By a four-two vote with Councilmember Bonnie Finley absent, the City Council send the Mountain Brook preliminary subdivision plat back to the Planning and Zoning Commission on July 9. The Planning & Zoning Commission had approved the project, but two neighbors appealed the decision to City Council. Normally, such items are not included in these updates, but the Mountain Brook project is important because one component includes the Veterans’ Village project which LAR supports and helped fund.
It is unusual for a city council to overturn a P&Z decision. A planning commission is a quasi-judicial body appointed by the city council and generally, a city council will support its decisions. However, in this case, the City Council apparently agreed with neighbors who argued the development’s traffic on Rodgers Road and water drainage issues would negatively impact them.
According to City staff, “the appellants (neighbors) have the burden of demonstrating that the decision of the Planning & Zoning Commission was plainly in error…” It did not appear the neighbors made a successful case of demonstrating error, but the Council did not take that into account and asked for additional studies related to traffic, drainage and wildlife, even though the applicant had already provided them. It also didn’t matter that staff had recommended conditional approval and the P&Z had added a list of 11 additional requirements to the project in an attempt to ease the neighbors’ concerns.
Mayor Pro Tem Polly Christensen made the motion to send the application back to P&Z for more review. Aren Rodriguez, Joan Peck and Mayor Brian Bagley voted with her, while Tim Waters and Marcia Martin voted to deny the appeal. Mayor Bagley’s did not explain his reason for his vote, other than to say when goes back to Council, Finley, known as a strong supporter of the Veterans Village, would be present.
Now the developer will have to fund additional studies as well as shoulder the cost of paying additional interest on project loans while the application is delayed. Mountain Brook is a 66-acre property and the developer envisions a mix of single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes and condominiums or apartments.