ACTION ITEM: Attend Longmont City Council Meeting at 7pm on Tuesday, October 2nd

Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek has been collecting resident signatures on a petition asking Longmont City Council to protect our St. Vrain Creek corridor from damaging urban development. Specifically, we’re asking Council to delay any development/redevelopment in proximity to St. Vrain Creek until:

  1.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency approves the new flood plain maps,
  2.  The Resilient St. Vrain (RSVP) flood mitigation project’s plans and funding are in place, and
  3.  The Land Development Code’s sections concerning riparian protection and wildlife management are updated.

It does not make sense to develop areas when the new floodplain designation could change and when the design for the entirety of the RSVP has not been determined. In addition, any development/redevelopment should be done under an updated Land Development Code rather than an outdated code that is 17 years old.

We’ll be presenting the petition on Tuesday, October 2nd during that evening’s public invited to be heard portion of the City Council meeting at 7pm at the Civic Center (350 Kimbark Street). In addition, we’ll be presenting City Council with postcards from residents asking that City Council maintain the 150 foot riparian setback and enact stronger protections for our riparian areas.

We ask that you please attend this council meeting to show your support for our St. Vrain corridor and area wildlife. Please wear green.

What: City Council meeting

When: Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Where: Longmont Civic Center 350 Kimbark Street, Longmont CO 80501

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Resilient St. Vrain Project Update and United States Army Corp of Engineers 205 Program Project Update

This Tuesday (8/20/2018), City Council will hear an update on the status of the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation project from City staff and a presentation from the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the 205 program project they’re working on with City staff. The City Council meeting will be held at the Civic Center at 350 Kimbark Street at 7pm. The full agenda for the meeting is available here.

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100-year flood plain map for Longmont, CO showing the current and new floodplain as well as the anticipated floodplain following completion of the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation work.

The “205 project” refers to section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948, as amended. This section allows the Corps to partner with non-Federal entities to design and construct small flood damage reduction projects not previously authorized by Congress and that are not part of a larger project.

The Corps is looking into whether this authority might be used to complete the portion of the Resilient St. Vrain project that stretches from Boston Avenue to the Fairgrounds Pond at Rogers Grove natural area. If determined feasible, the Corps anticipates completing their design in 2019 and beginning construction in 2020.

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Proposed timeline and workplan for the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation project by sections of the city.

One concern regarding this stretch is that, while Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek has been working with the City to conduct wildlife, particularly bird, surveys in the area of Rogers Grove and Golden Ponds, 1-2 years of data collected prior to construction is not much. In addition, the City does not currently have the resources to analyze the data collected. It is imperative that the City analyze wildlife survey data collected to determine what species are present and what habitats they are utilizing before construction begins.

One species known to occur in the area of Rogers Grove along St. Vrain Creek is the Bank Swallow. Bank Swallows are the smallest swallows in Colorado and are considered to be a Boulder County Species of Special Concern because they only nest in a handful of places within the County. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Longmont must work together to determine how to mitigate the impact of construction on this species and its nesting area, including timing construction so that it does not occur during the nesting season.

Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek will be attending the meeting and speaking during Public Invited To Be Heard to ensure that these points are made before City Council and staff as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Please consider either attending the meeting and speaking in support of the (bolded) points above or contacting City Council and expressing your support for these points.

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City Council Meeting

Longmont City Council will be hearing from Riverset, LLC. on a proposal for the city to annex 21 acres of land at 21 S. Sunset Street owned by the company. The land is currently zoned as general industrial, but the property owner is requesting mixed use-planned unit development zoning in order to build a mix of residential and commercial buildings.

The meeting will be held at the Longmont Civic Center at 350 Kimbark Street at 7pm. The meeting agenda and relevant documents pertaining to the agenda item can be found at the link below.

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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.

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thumbnail of Riverset

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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.

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Development along St. Vrain Creek contentious point at Longmont City Council candidate forum – Longmont Times-Call

A more open attitude toward development along the St. Vrain Creek corridor once the Resilient St. Vrain flood restoration project is completed further separated Longmont Ward 1 City Council candidates Josh Goldberg and Tim Waters at a forum Thursday night.

The conversation about the future of development along St. Vrain Creek took center stage last night at the Sustainability Forum hosted by Sustainable Resilient Longmont, Eco-Cycle, and the Longmont Observer and participated in by Longmont City Council Ward 1 candidates Tim Waters and Josh Goldberg. The third candidate for the seat vacated by Brian Bagley when he became mayor last year, Russ Lyman, did not attend. Ward 1 comprises the majority of Longmont east of Main Street.

Source: Development along St. Vrain Creek contentious point at Longmont City Council candidate forum – Longmont Times-Call

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February Nature Almanac: River otters resurge in Boulder County – Boulder Daily Camera

The river otter is a Colorado state threatened species that looks to be making a comeback in Boulder County, including in St. Vrain Creek.

A sleek brown body surged through the water. A broad head turned, and curious eyes surveyed the astounded onlookers. A muskrat? A mink? No, a river-otter! After an absence of almost half a century, they are coming back.

Source: February Nature Almanac: River otters resurge in Boulder County – Boulder Daily Camera

 

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Next Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting 1/24/18

The next Planning and Zoning commission meeting is scheduled for 7pm on January 24th at the Civic Center (350 Kimbark Street) where the commission will continue to go over the Land Development Code.

The agenda for the P&Z meeting states that “no substantive changes are proposed to [the sections of the Development Code dealing with protection of rivers/streams/wetlands/riparian areas and habitat and species protection] pending the Open Space and Trails Master Plan and Wildlife Management Plan updates, plus ongoing work on Resilient St. Vrain and the St. Vrain Blueprint.” HOWEVER, it would be good for P&Z to hear support for maintaining the 150-foot riparian setback, closing loopholes to the 150-foot setback in the Development Code, and strengthening protections for open space and natural areas, including the St. Vrain Creek corridor.

Please consider speaking during the Public Invited to Be Heard section of the meeting. You may also email City Planning and Development Services Director Joni Marsh to submit written comments.

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Land Development Code Updates Open For Public Comments

The City of Longmont is currently updating its Land Development Code (chapter 15 of the Longmont Municipal Code) and taking public comment. Comments can be submitted to the Longmont Planning and Development Services Department via phone by calling 303-651-8330, via email by writing to longmont.planning@longmontcolorado.gov or by filling out this online form.

The Land Development Code contains requirements relating to development in the city, including the 150-foot setback for development/redevelopment along St. Vrain Creek and minimizing light pollution in areas of important wildlife habitat. The entire Municipal Code, including the Land Development Code can be read here.

Though these are good first steps, the Land Development Code’s protections for St. Vrain Creek and other sensitive wildlife habitats within the city could be strengthened by:

  • Expressly prohibiting artificial lighting within Longmont’s greenways, open spaces, and riparian corridors;
  • Establishing 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;
  • Restricting building heights adjacent to riparian areas; and
  • Minimizing the amount of impervious materials that contribute to storm-water runoff (e.g. concrete sidewalks and parking lots) near streams and other bodies of water.

We urge you to submit comments in support of stronger protections for Longmont’s natural areas, especially the St. Vrain Creek riparian corridor.

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