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Published in the January 12, 2017, edition of the Lyons Recorder.

COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Planning commission targets issues, deadline for annexation plan

by Amy Reinholds

The Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) identified more issues and questions with a draft of the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan on Monday, Jan. 8, with a goal to get a clean draft from consultants by the next workshop on Jan. 23. [This meeting was postponed to a later date.]

The master plan, which will guide current and future town leaders in making decisions when landowners petition to annex into town limits, is required because of an Intergovernmental Agreement (also called an IGA) between the Town of Lyons and Boulder County, first established in 2002, and updated in 2012, that defines the Primary Planning Area, an area of Boulder County on the outskirts of Town of Lyons limits, where landowners in the area are allowed to petition to annex into the town.

This kind of plan is needed because as residents of Lyons or residents in the adjacent county neighborhoods, we don’t want future decisions about how land can be used to be made ad hoc by town leaders, even if it’s years or decades before any landowners (or their heirs) petition to annex.

On Jan. 8, the PCDC commissioners identified the following issues in a discussion with Matt Manley, Lyons flood recovery planner, who is working with the consultants: 

  • Maps need updates including special markings for all conservation easements, covenants, or other agreements, which are facts future town leaders, landowners who want to annex, and developer partners need to know.
  • The Town of Lyons needs to confirm what is a legitimate “three-mile plan” (required by the State of Colorado) and determine if this master plan meets that requirement or if it puts the town at risk of a legal challenge. Commissioners also asked if other documents referenced in the master plan also need to be ratified.
  • Attorneys have been using the term “amendment” to the Lyons Comprehensive Plan when describing the Lyons Planning Area Master Plan, although the PCDC commissioners said the words “addendum” or “addition” are more accurate, because the master plan will be added only and nothing else in the Comprehensive Plan will change.
  • Trustee Barney Dreistadt, a liaison to the PCDC, said the Board of Trustees want as much flexibility for the Eastern Corridor subarea to allow the Town of Lyons public works building located there, because trustees might be forced to take action on locating the public works building there. Commissioners agreed with the guidance in the master plan that the road frontage land is best for retail commercial uses, and Dreistadt said he had not heard of a proposal for road frontage used for either governmental use (like public works building) or residential.
  • PCDC commissioners, Manley, and Dreistadt talked about delays from the Ricker|Cunningham consultants, although the draft was much improved from the first draft in November 2016, and also said discussions of philosophical differences between commissioners also ate up some workshop discussion time in the past two months. 

For a basic summary of guidance in drafts of the Primary Planning Area Master Plan, see https://lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/upcoming-meetings-on-annexation-plan-vacation-rentals-habitat-for-humanity/. Materials, including drafts of the final Primary Planning Area Master Plan will be available on the www.townoflyons.com/441/Lyons-Primary-Planning-Area-Master-Plan website and also in meeting materials for the PCDC and the Board of Trustees public hearings that are posted at www.townoflyons.com/AgendaCenter. If you want to read the current Lyons Comprehensive Plan, it is available here: www.townoflyons.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/155.

Before the Primary Planning Area Master Plan is added as an addendum to the Lyons Comprehensive Plan (the overall planning document for the Town of Lyons) the PCDC has been reviewing drafts since late November from Ricker|Cunningham, a practice of Real Estate Economists, and planners and engineers from Kimley-Horn, consultants hired by the town to conduct the master plan process. After the final draft of the Primary Planning Area Master Plan is ready, the next steps will be official public hearings before the PCDC and the Board of Trustees. After the PCDC adopts the plan as an addendum to the Lyons Comprehensive Plan, the next step is for the Lyons Board of Trustees to ratify the addition to the Comprehensive Plan.

The Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan process started in March 2016 with planning workshops with neighbors and other members of the public for each of three subareas of Lyons Primary Planning Area: the Eastern Corridor (original workshops in March-April), South St. Vrain (original workshops in May-June), and Apple Valley (original workshops in July-September). A tenth meeting in October was a public wrap-up presentation, based on the work from all nine of those previous workshops, where Lyons residents and planning area neighbors attended and gave input.

With the upcoming public hearing before the PCDC, and a public hearing before the Board of Trustees after that, the public has at least two additional times to give input on guidelines for future annexations to the Town of Lyons, in addition to the 10 workshops that happened in 2016.

As of the Jan. 8 meeting, the PCDC commissioners expected Jan. 23 would be another workshop to finalize a draft, instead of an official public hearing. However, at the Jan. 8 workshop the commissioners did request and hear informal ideas and comments from the audience (about 7 members of the public), and that could happen again at the Jan. 23 workshop.

It was agreed that Commissioner Mark Browning will provide grammar and spelling edits on the document on behalf of the PCDC. An offline meeting with town staff and maybe one commissioner before a Jan. 23 meeting was planned so that the draft reviewed will be much cleaner and ready to go through one final time.

PCDC meetings, whether public hearings (with times for members of the public to comment) or workshops (discussions of PCDC commissioners) start at 7 p.m. at Lyons Town Hall. Check the town calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx.

For a history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers posted on my blog at https://lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. All town meetings of the elected Lyons Board of Trustees and appointed town boards and commissions are open to the public and are supposed to be posted on the town calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx. This column is a weekly commentary in the Lyons Recorder. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @ hotmail.com.