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City Council Meeting Open Forum

The July 17 city council meeting, beginning at 7 pm in the Council Chambers at 350 Kimbark Street, will be an Open Forum for residents to talk for 5 minutes each to council members about any topic on their minds. There are no other items on the agenda for this meeting. Residents who wish to speak will need to sign up in the lobby of Council Chambers between 6:45pm and 7pm.

City staff is hoping to finalize the first half of the Land Development Code updates in the next couple of months and will then move on to the second half of updates, including those pertaining to rivers/streams/wetlands/riparian areas (15.05.020) and habitat and species protection (15.05.030). Therefore, this is a very crucial time to speak up in favor of stronger riparian and wildlife protections. 

Please attend the July 17th city council meeting and consider speaking during the Open Forum to encourage city staff to:

  • Rewrite the criteria in 15.05.020(E)(3)(b) used to identify circumstances where the 150-foot riparian setback may be reduced in order to eliminate loopholes and
    provide more stringent requirements that will effectively protect rivers/streams and riparian habitat from encroaching development/redevelopment;
  • Expressly prohibit artificial lighting along Longmont’s greenways and within its open spaces and riparian corridors to protect nocturnal wildlife and maintain wildlife movement corridors;
  • Establish light fixture shielding requirements and vegetation buffers to minimize the impacts of light and noise pollution from nearby development on greenways, open spaces, and riparian corridors, which is especially necessary along the St. Vrain where the removal of vegetation has eliminated an important natural screen and sound dampener;
  • Restrict building heights adjacent to riparian areas;
  • Minimize the amount of impervious materials that contribute to storm-water runoff (e.g. concrete sidewalks and parking lots) near rivers/streams and other bodies of water;
  • Require in 15.05.030 (H) that the planning and development manager rather than the applicant for development retain “a qualified person with demonstrated expertise in the field “ to prepare a required species or habitat conservation plan and that the applicant will reimburse the city for the cost of preparing the conservation plan.; and
  • Require that variance requests pertaining to the 150-foot riparian setback be decided upon by City Council, an elected body, rather than the Planning and Zoning Commission.

If you are unable to attend the Open Forum, please send your written comments to Valeria Skitt, City Clerk, at valeria.skitt@longmontcolorado.gov.

‘Take Two Trees And Call Me In The Morning’: More Docs Are Prescribing Time Outdoors | CPR

In her new book “The Nature Fix,” journalist Florence Williams documents scientists’ quest to understand how being outdoors affects our health.

Source: ‘Take Two Trees And Call Me In The Morning’: More Docs Are Prescribing Time Outdoors | CPR

A 1,000-year flood in Maryland shows the big problem with so much asphalt | Salon.com

So what’s behind the propensity for floods in Ellicott City? Part of the problem is its vulnerable location: the town lies at the foot of a hill where river branches meet the Patapsco River. And, of course, climate change makes storms wetter and increases the frequency of severe, record-breaking weather. But there’s another thing people are pointing out: concrete. When hard, impermeable concrete replaces absorbent green spaces, it’s much easier for floodwaters to overwhelm stormwater drainage.

Source: A 1,000-year flood in Maryland shows the big problem with so much asphalt | Salon.com

Annexation Referral of property near St. Vrain Creek

Tomorrow, June 12, Longmont City Council will hear from Riverset, LLC., owners of 21 S. Sunset Street, on their proposal that the City annex their property. The property, which is approximately 21 acres formerly owned and mined by Aggregate Industries, lies east of Roger’s Grove and south of St. Vrain Creek. Although the property did not flood during the September 2013 flood event, it is considered to be within the flood plain.

Riverset LLC. plans to develop the property as a mixed use commercial area. However, there are no concrete plans yet on what that might look like. Given the proximity to both Roger’s Grove and St. Vrain Creek, as well as its position within the flood plain, Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek is watching this development closely.

thumbnail of Foundry Builders letter

thumbnail of Riverset

Appeal Hearing for Martin Marietta Material Permit

In 1998, Boulder County approved a special use permit to allow gravel mining on 881 acres of property owned by Western Mobile in the St. Vrain River Valley east of Lyons. River valleys are often targeted for gravel mining due to the accumulation of gravel and other sediments that build up in floodplains.

In 2011, the land was sold to Martin Marietta Materials Inc., which is now seeking to continue gravel mining operations on the property. Included with the mines, they’re also planning to build a number of accessory structures within the 100 year flood plain of St. Vrain Creek.

The special use permit included a clause that the permit will lapse if no activity authorized under the permit has been conducted for a continuous period of 5 years or more. On April 11, 2018, Boulder County ruled that the permit is still valid. However, prior to the onset of mining operations, the Boulder County Board of Adjustment must hold public hearings on the proposal.

The first of such public hearings is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The appeal hearing begins at 4:00 PM at the Commissioner’s Hearing Room, 1325 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302.

You can find more information about the public hearing here.

Gravel mining on St. Vrain Creek upstream of Longmont would likely increase the risk of flooding, both within the city and in surrounding areas downstream, which would completely defeat the purpose of the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation project that Longmont is currently undertaking. This 2014 conference paper by Anthony R. Ladson and Dean A. Judd explains the short and long-term risks of floodplain gravel mining, particularly the likelihood that such mining may alter the flow of flood water and change river channels. As stated in the paper:

A literature review found 37 examples where rivers had broken into gravel mines and the resulting river response had led to bed and bank erosion and threats to infrastructure.

A river is likely to jump tracks into a gravel pond because water follows the path of least resistance. When this happens, it increases the likelihood of damage. In 2013, this was perfectly illustrated when St. Vrain Creek diverted through the former gravel pits at Pella Crossing Open Space in Hygiene as described in this Times Call letter to the editor by Richard Cargill.

Please consider attending the public hearing on Wednesday, June 6 to voice your concerns regarding Martin Marietta’s gravel mining operation.

Open Space Master Plan Survey Results

As part of the process to update its Open Space Master Plan, the City of Longmont conducted a survey earlier this year to get feedback on community priorities with regards to open space. The City sent out a survey invite to random Longmont residents as well as allowed people who weren’t selected for the survey to respond to the survey questions on the City’s website.

Survey results have now been posted. Of the top 10 findings of the survey, a majority of survey respondents believe additional open space properties should be acquired to keep pace with population growth. Most respondents also believe that the most important function of open space is to protect natural areas from development, and that it is important to preserve wildlife habitat (including rivers, creeks, riparian corridors, and wetlands).

Droughts And Wildfires Mean Floods Are Likely. Is The Front Range Ready? | CPR

The St. Vrain creek flows around a bridge damaged in flooding days earlier, in Longmont, Colo., Tuesday Sept. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

According to an interview with former FEMA director Craig Fugate, some of the most populous areas of Colorado, including Boulder County, are likely to see more and worse flooding as a result of the current drought. Fugate points to Fort Collins’ program to buy up land in the flood plain as green space as one way to protect against flood damage to homes and businesses.

Source: Droughts And Wildfires Mean Floods Are Likely. Is The Front Range Ready? | CPR

ACTION ALERT: Land Development Code Updates

Longmont’s Planning and Zoning Commission will be holding a public hearing on the updates to the Land Development Code on April 25th at 7pm at the Civic Center (350 Kimbark Street). Please consider attending and speaking in favor of protecting our riparian corridors and Open Space.

Though the sections on habitat and riparian protections are not being updated at this time so their updates coincide with the revamp of the City’s Wildlife Management Plan, the section of the code involving public notification regarding developments IS being updated. Because ALL Longmont residents benefit from the St. Vrain corridor and the City’s Open Space, ALL Longmont residents should be notified when a development application is submitted for a property adjacent to the St. Vrain or City Open Space and not just those residents living within 1000 feet of the proposed development.

If you don’t wish to speak or can’t make it to the P&Z meeting on Wednesday, please submit comments ahead of time via email or by calling 303-651-8330.