Boulder City Council last night approved a change in land designation for what is known as CU South. KGNU’s Roz Brown says the 7-1 vote, paves the way for a major development on what has always been open space.
Removal of the open space designation on the CU-owned land at the entrance to Boulder means the city will agree to provide water, sewer, roads and other city services for a development that will include 11-hundred housing units, eight academic buildings and athletic fields on a 308-acre site at the entrance to Boulder on U.S. 36. The only push back came when city charts showed annexation of the property would begin before flood issues on the site are understood and mitigated.
Councilmember Lisa Morzel argued successfully that the process was backwards. And Mayor Suzanne Jones suggested that making an assumption annexation would occur before the flood studies are conducted could create a nasty issue in the November council elections. But the university has pushed for a preliminary O.K. for its development even before flood mitigation studies are done and that’s what worries Jim Morris who has followed the issue.
“I think CU is using popular issues like preventing floods and providing affordable housing to do something that’s in its own interest, but originally this was supposed to be for habitat and people,” said Morris. “It wasn’t supposed to be for intensive development in an inappropriate place.”
The CU South controversial land use change was part of an update to the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. But an equally controversial decision was a 7-2 vote to eliminate the Comp Plan’s four-body development review process. Until now, under the Comp Plan – a sort-of Bible for local development – the city council and its planning board and the county and its planning board have had a say in proposed development. But the city would like to limit the county’s role in its future expansion and wants the county’s planning board to step aside on certain land parcels. Some residents like Ben Binder think the decision is a mistake.
“I believe they should have kept the four-body review process because people in the county need a large say in what’s taking place in areas outside the city,” said Binder. “The county has a nine-member planning board and only three commissioners and I think those nine members are more in touch with what the public wants than the commissioners.”
Binder believes the city voted to get rid of the four-body process to exact revenge against the county’s planning commission for nixing a large residential development at Twin Lakes in Gunbarrel.
The debate to eliminate the forty-year-old, four-body process will be taken up next by the Boulder County Planning Board on July 19.