Published 9/12/23 in the Longmont Leader and Longmont Times Call
On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, Longmont City staff presented an update on the Sustainable Evaluation System tool they are developing to “score” development applications on their value with regard to profitability, environmental sustainability, and social equity.
Staff asked for direction from Council with regard to what “adjacent” to riparian areas means in terms of what properties the SES tool would be applicable too and what water bodies should be added to the 150 foot riparian setback requirement. City staff recommended that the tool initially only be used to evaluate development applications seeking a variance to the 150 foot setback. Staff also recommended that the 150 foot setback be initially extended only to those portions of the additional waterways mentioned in the Wildlife Management Plan update (Dry Creek #1, Lykins Gulch, Spring Gulch #1 and Spring Gulch #2) for which the setback would be easiest (cheaper, more efficient, best quality habitat etc.) to implement. In the attached slide show, those sections are marked in green on the map.
The current Longmont Development Code applies a 100 foot setback for development along all waterways not specifically mentioned in the Code. Any variance requests for development along these waterways, as well as the ones to which the 150 foot setback requirement apply, would have to go to City Council for approval.
City Council concurred with Staff’s recommendations.
Longmont City staff have completed a final draft of the Wildlife Management Plan (WMP) update. This draft can be read here. This final WMP will be voted on for approval by City Council on Tuesday, September 24th.
Stand with Our St. Vrain Creek is pleased that staff has revised the WMP to provide further protections to riparian areas by adopting Fort Collins’ criteria for allowing variances to the current 150-foot riparian conservation buffer. While the WMP is not regulation, the language in the WMP will be used to inform the protections for wildlife and habitat and riparian and stream protections within Longmont’s Land Development Code.
We strongly urge you to write to City Council urging them to approve the WMP and are asking for people to show up wearing green to the City Council meeting on 9/24 at 7pm to show their support for the revised WMP.
Left Hand Brewing Company has been planning to build an event venue near St. Vrain Creek for some time and are now starting the application process. The application process’s first step is to hold a neighborhood meeting.
Previously seen plans for this event venue call for a hardscape amphitheatre that would encroach into the 150 riparian conservation buffer where, according to comments made by Left Hand’s owner during a Parks and Recreation Advisory Boart meeting last year, 3-5 events would be scheduled per week that could accommodate 1500-2000 people. Such events could include yoga, movies, concerts, etc.
St. Vrain Creek is a public amenity that benefits all residents of Longmont. Our tax money has gone to the Resilient St. Vrain Project to repair 2013 flood damage to the river and greenway and mitigate future flood damage. Therefore, ALL residents of Longmont should have a say in all development directly adjacent to St. Vrain Creek, including this planned development.
Please consider attending this meeting and speaking up not just for the health of our river and its wildlife, but also for those who live near Left Hand who could potentially be impacted by the additional lights, traffic, and noise from this venue.
On Tuesday, February 22nd, Longmont City Council settled on a timeline for the “second phase” of amendments to the Land Development Code (LDC). These amendments encompass not only that portion of the LDC dealing with riparian setbacks and wildlife protection, but also the timeframe for completing supporting tools/documents such as a sustainability system for evaluating development and that portion of the Wildlife Management Plan that deals with development along riparian corridors/near open space areas.
This timeframe indicates August 1, 2019 as the due date for such amendments. The timeframe was based off of a timeframe developed by City Staff (see below).
To view the full discussion of the Longmont Development Code amendment priority and timeline discussion, watch the following video, which has been cued up to the start of that discussion:
Longmont City Council will be discussing the timing and priority of updates to the second phase of the Land Development Code (which includes the parts of the code dealing with habitat and riparian protections) during the Tuesday, January 22nd City Council meeting. The City Council meeting will be held at 7:00pm at the Civic Center. The City has contracted with Clarion Associates to make the development code updates.
Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek is asking that citizens concerned about our St. Vrain river corridor attend the January 22nd council meeting and to wear green. It is important that council prioritize changes to the development code that strengthen restrictions on development along the riparian corridor in order to protect this important resource.
In preparation for the meeting, City staff has provided the following documents. Click on the picture of each document to access the link to the full text.
On Wednesday, October 25th, the Planning and Zoning Commission heard a development request for the Harvest Junction shopping center regarding an 8-foot variance to the 150-foot riparian setback required by the City Code. It was clear from the discussion that many questions could have been answered if staff from the city’s Department of Natural Resources had been present at the meeting. Such questions involved the ecology of the riparian area, the reasoning behind the setback, and the work being done as part of the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation project.
Currently, there is no procedure in place to refer variance requests to the Department of Natural Resources when the request may impact a natural area such as the St. Vrain Creek corridor. In order to learn of variance requests, the Department of Natural Resources must either hear of it through word of mouth or through another informal channel.
It doesn’t strike Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek as productive for the left hand to not know what the right is doing when it’s the left hand that has the needed expertise. Therefore, we suggest that a standard operating procedure be put into place requiring the Department of Natural Resources be consulted when variances are requested that may impact wildlife or sensitive ecological areas such as the St. Vrain corridor.