Regional Government Affairs Update February 1, 2022 đźŚť

Elections Never End! You’ll notice some basic candidate information in this update. Why? Statutory towns across Northern Colorado will hold municipal elections on April 5, with ballots being mailed on March 14.

What is a statutory municipality? It is a town that has elected officials known as a board of trustees. The mayor of these towns is elected by popular vote. Statutory towns do not collect their own sales tax.

2022 will also feature county commissioner elections. Candidates can petition on the ballot or undergo the assembly selection for party candidates. The date for the Colorado Primary is June 28; our general election is scheduled for November 8.

It’s time to start your homework so you’re prepared for the 2022 elections.

Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director

Boulder County
Four County Commissioner Candidates So Far:
When Matt Jones announced his intent to retire at the end of his current term as Commissioner for District 3, it didn’t take long for candidates to emerge who want to take his place. According to the Daily Camera, four candidates have declared so far, but there’s plenty of time for others to join the fray.

Ashley Stolzmann, currently Mayor of Louisville, said being a Commissioner would help her serve constituents impacted by the Marshall Fire. “The county is the key player in the whole recovery.”

Candidate number two is Elaina Shively of Lafayette. She is the Director of Diversion and Restorative Justice for the Boulder County DA’s office. “As a county commissioner, I could leverage the work I’ve done in being a leader for systems change,” she said.

Andrew O’Connor is the third candidate to announce. He’s run before, albeit unsuccessfully, in previous local elections and at the state level. He is retired but previously worked as a public defender. If elected, O’Connor hopes to work on infrastructure, especially roads and traffic control, within Boulder County.

Lisa Widdekind announced her candidacy on Feb. 7. She served as public health emergency management coordinator for 16 years. “As a former employee who worked with all our departments to be prepared for events like the pandemic, I understand how our local government works and can hit the ground running in the role of commissioner. It’s a lot different than coming in from other career paths,” Widdekind said. She ran for the same seat in 2018.

Eight Candidates for April Election:
Current Trustee Justin Brooks and Kelly Zuniga will vie for the mayor’s seat after incumbent Mayor Jennifer Carroll announced she will not run again. Six candidates will compete for three trustee seats: incumbent Christiaan van Woudenberg, Emily Baer, Jeff Haverkate, Dan Hoback, Ryan Kenward, and Andrew Sawusch.

Electric Home Demonstration Project:
The City Council was briefed on a building demonstration project being done by Longmont Power and Communications in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley. The project includes 10 new all-electric homes.

The houses will have water heater controllers and home energy monitoring devices to gather data on water heater consumption, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment. The purpose of the project is to monitor and test for peak electric demand reduction, renewable energy generation alignment, and other benefits of the grid.

Given the push for all-electric homes to combat global warming, this type of project is important. Many local governments (including Longmont) and the State of Colorado, support the goal of eventually eliminating natural gas heating, but is all-electric heating efficient and cost-effective? Data from projects like this one can help answer this question.

Post-Fire Building Code Requirements Become Politicized:
On February 1 the Louisville City Council held its first discussion on building code requirements for the Marshall Fire victims. The staff presented information on the provisions of the International Wildland Urban Interface Code, otherwise known as WUI.

Louisville doesn’t have any of the WUI provisions in its code now, but in the aftermath of the fire, it is possible the staff may recommend considering some sections. Planner Lisa Ritchie said the staff isn’t ready to recommend the adoption of the WUI codes yet, however. “We’re still learning,” she said.

The discussion concerning the energy efficiency code (IECC) generated more passion. In the fall of 2021, Louisville adopted the 2021 version of the IECC, which requires new residential construction to be built to certain energy-efficient standards, including a requirement to build new homes using only electricity (versus natural gas) or at least be wired as electric-ready. In addition, the code includes wiring for electric vehicle charging stations, and solar panels (or the ability to support solar panels), and a net-zero carbon emission standard.

Some victims of the Marshall Fire asked the Council not to require rebuilt homes to comply with that code because of the additional cost. “Everyone is profoundly under-insured. I’ve heard there are some people who aren’t under-insured but I’ve yet to meet one of these unicorns,” said one affected homeowner.

Requiring rebuilt homes to meet the 2021 IECC code would add from $8,360 to $33,795 to the cost. Victims said their home insurance allowance for code updates would not cover that cost. Audrey DuBarros, the director of Commuting Solutions, said being a fire victim changed her perspective dramatically. Suspend the 2021 IECC, she begged. “Streamline the process and come to our rescue.”

Will Toor, the Director of the Colorado Energy Office, urged the council to stick to the 2021 IECC requirements. He argued the City’s consultants were incorrect in their analysis of the costs. He said the State would help and donate money for “sustainable rebuilding.” Elise Jones, the Director of the South West Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) testified as well, pressing the City to stay the course as one of the State’s leaders in energy efficiency.

After more than 90 minutes of testimony, Mayor Stolzmann ended the hearing. She said the issue would be discussed again once the staff can research the financial resources needed to cover the costs of incorporating the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code into the rebuilt homes.

Council Waives Demo Permit Fees for Fire Victims: The City Council unanimously approved a resolution to waive demolition permit fees for fire victims. After a short discussion, the original proposal was revised and the time limit for the waiver was extended until September 30. Victims have to apply for the permit by that date. The actual work must begin within 180 days.

Larimer County
Sheriff Running for Commissioner:
Justin Smith, Larimer County’s Sheriff for 12 years, has announced he will challenge incumbent commission John Kefalas for the District One seat this November. Smith told the Coloradoan his 30 years of service to the County have helped him to understand its varied challenges.

Mask Requirement Ends Feb. 12: Larimer County’s Department of Health & Environment will eliminate the COVID-19 mask requirements effective Feb. 12. The County joins most other Front Range counties in ending mask requirements; Broomfield, Denver, Adams, and Araphoe counties have already creased requiring masks indoors. Boulder County is the only county in Northern Colorado that still requires masks in public indoor spaces.

Trustee Candidates:
Six people have announced their candidacy in the Berthoud trustee election, scheduled for April 5. The candidates are Tim Hardy, who is running for a second term, Karl Ayers, Ryan Berry, Alex Johnson, Sean Murphy, and Ellyn Rush.

Three four-year seats are available. Two current trustees will not run again. Jeff Hindman is term-limited, and Mayor Pro Tem Maureen Dower has chosen not to run for a second term.

Trustees Increase Water Cash-in-Lieu Fee: The Board of Trustees approved an ordinance to increase Berthoud’s cash in lieu water dedication fee, an alternative method to satisfy water requirements for new development. Funds collected as cash-in-lieu fees are used by the Town to further develop its water supplies and to develop the infrastructure necessary to treat and deliver those supplies.

The current cash-in-lieu fee is $16,500 per single family equivalent (“SFE”) was adopted by the Board in June 2019. The revised fee is $25,000 per SFE. The rationale for the increase was based on the unit cost of recent water acquisitions by the Town and the estimated costs of new water infrastructure projects.

Fort Collins
Diagnosis – LUC Needs Work:
A diagnostic report prepared by consultants indicates the City’s Land Use Code (LUC) needs changes. As it currently exists, the LUC limits housing capacity and creates uncertainty. It doesn’t prioritize capacity, diversity, or affordability along transit corridors and it doesn’t support compatible infill development. To top it off, the consultants said it is difficult to use.

The majority of the Council present (Susan Gutowsky was absent) supported the consultants’ recommendations and the direction the report recommends. The consultants suggest many updates, including changes to efficiently guide infill and a more equitable process to make it easier for local developers. The current LUC is too “focused on use regulation and process without enough priority and focus on predictable form.”

Kelly Ohlson, who was active in the creation of the existing LUC became irate and lectured his Council colleagues, the staff and City consultants for nearly 25 minutes. He said, “These are the biggest planning changes I’ve seen – ever. I don’t share the enthusiasm for where we are heading.” He added that “Affordable Housing is the great American excuse for bad policy.” He explained he wasn’t elected to represent people who will live in Fort Collins 15 years from now.

Staff said there will be continued public engagement and additional study sessions for the City Council. The hope is to bring back draft LUC revisions in April 2022.

Read the diagnostic report here:

Weld County
Trustees Approve Turion Plan:
Mead’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement and service plan for the Turion Metropolitan Districts, beginning the development process for 2,000-acre master-planned community with 5,700 homes and 5.3 million square feet of commercial space.

Turion still awaits approval from the Town of Berthoud, because part of the property lies within the Town’s boundaries. Berthoud’s Board of Trustees was scheduled to continue its discussion of the issue at its Feb. 8 meeting but the results of that meeting aren’t yet available.

Turion is bounded by Interstate 25 to the west, Weld County Road 11 to the east, Weld County Road 38 to the south, and Weld County Road 44 to the north. The maximum aggregate mill levy for Turion will be 70.664 in Mead and 73.664 in the Berthoud portion, according to the service plan. Infrastructure paid for by the metro districts includes streets, water, sewer, and recreational amenities such as a rec center. Homes will cost between $250 to $850,000.

FHFA re Condo Requirements:
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) responded to NAR’s letter regarding the new condo documentation and reserve requirements. The new requirements are in response to the Surfside disaster last year in Florida, in which a condo collapsed and nearly 100 people were killed. The property was due for renovations and had been under-reserved.

NAR previously requested a delay in implementation and better marketing/information for homeowners association (HOAs) on the requirements. In its response to NAR’s request, the FHFA indicated that it will not delay the implementation, but offered to facilitate a discussion with the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) for better marketing of their requirements and info sessions for HOAs.

NAR has heard from members in various states that lenders are asking HOAs to fill out addendums and provide the safety and reserve documentation but the HOAs do not know how to fill out the forms or find the studies. Furthermore, professional management companies will not provide the information.

Architectural and engineering reviews for properties will be expensive and take time, while the actual reserves needed for any improvements will add a financial burden. The safety and financial security reforms are clearly needed, but this hasty implementation could negatively impact the ability to finance condos purchases with a disproportionate impact on under-served communities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: