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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
At the moment, the St. Vrain economic development blueprint is slated to go before Longmont city council this coming Tuesday, October 17th.
It is Stand with Our St. Vrain Creek’s opinion that any economic development plan should not be approved until flood recovery and mitigation efforts have been completed or, at the least, all flood recovery and mitigation planning has been decided upon.
We’re asking people to attend the council meeting at the Civic Center this Tuesday and perhaps to speak in support of holding off on approval of the plan. Supporters of the creek are encouraged to wear blue.
Our over-reaching concern is keeping the St. Vrain Creek corridor as natural as possible and we’re concerned that economic development will trump wildlife, ecosystem, and public health and safety. If you’re in agreement, please submit comments to the City including the following points:
+ Biological surveys & studies are needed to identify habitat and species along the creek corridor and to designate sensitive areas for habitat and species protection. We need data/science including expert professional opinions in order to plan well.
Specific to the Blueprint Plan for Development: All development in Longmont is required to be based on the 3-legged stool (Environment, Social, and Economic) criteria. The Blueprint is primarily an economic plan.
+The City is updating our Land Use Code, which won’t be ready for City Council until 2018. The blueprint could require major revisions, so what’s the rush with bringing it forward now for City Council consideration on Sept. 26, 2017???
+This plan is premature—the City does not currently have flood mitigation plans finalized for west of the railroad crossing (east of Sunset/Isaak Walton) nor who will pay for this…
+Building in the flood plain (even with mitigation) is unwise. There have been 11 flood events in this corridor in the last 100 years. It’s logical there will be another flood in our lifetime.
+The Longmont Comprehensive Plan needs to be revised to reflect post-2013 flood realities relative to this corridor. To do otherwise puts people & property in harm’s way & puts taxpayers on-the-hook in terms of $$ for recovery.
+The City must hold firm to the 150-foot riparian setback as designated in the City’s Land Development Standards for any and all proposed new OR re-development along creek. Especially essential is not allowing developers to be granted the variances they are certain to request.
+We must preserve St. Vrain Creek as a wildlife movement corridor and as a natural area by not allowing lighting along the path (wildlife moves at night) & limiting noise (i.e. Lefthand Brewery’s designs to expand with decks, more music etc.).
+We must preserve as many mature trees as is possible for creek health (cooling). Riparian and aquatic habitat including several rare and native fish in our creek have been identified by CPW as having “immense conservation value to the State of Colorado.”
+Development along our St. Vrain corridor is a HUGE game changer for the residents of Longmont. Therefore, much more public participation is needed. Perhaps a vote of the people is in order??