The Trustees were treated to a big dose of democracy at its best Monday night during their meeting at Town Hall. Seven or eight Lyons Moms (representing many more who had to stay home to watch their children) showed up to address the Board of Trustees (BOT) during audience business. To a woman, they emphatically voiced their concerns and opposition to the spraying of herbicides,
specifically Roundup, in the Town's parks, as well as in various public places around town. They cited multiple examples of taking their young toddlers to play in LaVern Johnson Park, only to discover after their kids had rolled around on the grass or romped in the playground that the area had been sprayed with herbicides. Saying, “We know better; we can do better,” and “Healthy people; healthy parks,” they begged the Trustees to follow the lead of places like Boulder, California, and various countries in Europe, and vote to ban the use of herbicides for weed control. If that was not possible, they implored the Board to please notify the community via email blasts and improved signage that the parks had been treated. As an alternative measure, a group of Moms calling themselves the “Dandelyons Brigade” volunteered to partner with the Lyons Garden Club and the Weed Posse to control weeds the old-fashioned way, by pulling them by hand on a monthly basis. As is the custom, the Board does not respond to specific matters that are presented to them during audience business, but it certainly appeared as if they got the message.
Two citizens also addressed the Board about Auxiliary Dwelling Units, one about setting the bar too low for approval of conditional use reviews, and the other about enforcement of noncompliant ADUs. Another resident suggested that, since Lyons was such a creative artistic/musical town, the crosswalks around town be painted to resemble piano keys, musical notes, rainbows, etc., to make Lyons a more attractive and distinctive place to live and visit.
Lyons Substation Supervisor Sgt. Bill Crist of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office informed the Board that the question of AR-15 rifles for the School Resource Officers (SRO) being stored on site at the schools received “mixed reviews” at the two public meetings held by the St. Vrain Valley School District. The proposal will continue to be looked into, and will most likely be readdressed in the fall according to Crist. He also notified the Trustees that there will be an additional floater SRO who will cover the elementary, middle and high schools in Lyons, Hygiene, and Niwot beginning August 15. Despite it being a busy weekend in the parks, Crist said issues with “grills, alcohol, and dogs off-leash were at a minimum.”
And lastly, former Substation Supervisor Commander Kevin Parker will be retiring from the force and going to work in the public sector. We wish him well in his new endeavor.
During staff reports Finance Director Anna Canada provided updates on the second quarter numbers; everything looks pretty good and within budget. Not so the news concerning the 2018 Powerman Race that was scheduled to take place in October. According to Kim Mitchell, Lyons Community Relations Director, after a telephone conference last week with the European owners of the event (a dual running and biking race), due to concerns pertaining to planning and marketing (or lack thereof) the 2018 event has been cancelled. But there did seem to be consensus among the Trustees to direct staff to look into hiring a company to take the lead in marketing and permitting for a Powerman event in 2019, provided deadlines and regular progress updates are met. It had been hoped that some of the Chamber of Commerce grant money to promote tourism in Lyons would be used for the 2018 event.
Unfortunately, that money will not be available for an event in 2019. Town Planner Paul Glasgow reported that he has been getting complaints from the citizenry about the “over growth” on some of the buyout properties around town. It seems some are not too enamored with the “natural growth” look of the lots, and would like to see them mowed and taken better care of. Glasgow suggested that because the plantings are natural indigenous flora and not irrigated it would be detrimental to the plants to mow before temperatures cooled off in September. He also noted that some of the revegetation trees planted on some of the buyout properties are dying. Mayor Pro Tem Barney Dreistadt, a member of the Lyons Volunteers, indicated that his group was interested in doing work at the former site of the Christmas House (Third/Park), and wanted assurances that FEMA would allow it. And as far as the Martin buyout property (adjacent to Bohn Park's western boundary) goes, Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen told the Board that Boulder County was in the process of getting the okay from FEMA to transfer the title to the Town of Lyons. She also reported that a staffing grant from the state for flood recovery staff has been approved through 2019; the okay has been given to run the Apple Valley water line down the road instead of through private property; Bohn Park Phase 2 is on hold; the Upper Fifth Avenue sewer line has been scoped; the out-flow pipe from the wastewater treatment plant will be moved below the Black Bear Hole; there will be a pre-proposal meeting for the McConnell ponds in August; and a group of CU landscape students have completed their findings on the landscaping of the Depot Building, the triangle plot at Third and Main, the screening at the wastewater treatment plant, and a cobblestone area near the high school. They will host a public input meeting later this summer to discuss their findings.
The Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) filled the Trustees in on their recommendations to amend the Outdoor Activity Overlay District to make it a little more homogeneous. There are three designations (restricted, limited, and open).
The closer a property is to residential a neighborhood, the more restricted it is. The PCDC recommended that two sections (the south side of High Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, and the parcel that the community church sits on) should be changed from limited to open so that they are more in line with the adjacent properties. This would allow businesses like Pizza Bar 66 or the former Farmer Girl restaurant to create back patios, similar to the one at the Fork for outdoor dining/entertainment.
Acting as the Lyons Liquor Licensing Authority, the Trustees approved a beer and wine liquor license for Bella La Crema (the new butter store next to the library). The owner intends to create a dining patio off the back of the establishment that will overlook Fourth Avenue and Broadway.
A public hearing concerning the approval of a resolution for a conditional use review for a detached ADU at 408 Reese Street was continued to the July 2 BOT meeting. After which, the consent agenda consisting of the June 2018 accounts payable and the June 4 BOT meeting minutes was approved. Two other items, the first reading of an ordinance amending the outdoor activity overlay district and a resolution awarding a bid ($590K) to DeFalco Construction for electrical and site work (paving, fencing, gates, lights, curb and gutter, and out-flow piping) at the wastewater treatment plant were approved in a six to zero vote (Trustee Mark Browning was not in attendance) after a short explanation and discussion.
During general business the Board approved a resolution rejecting a settlement and release proposed by Honeywell International, Inc., regarding the energy cost savings contract for the Town's wastewater treatment plant. They also got a housing update. No new news there. The next item was a discussion concerning a possible ordinance pertaining to the BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) problem at the wastewater treatment plant, and a possible sanitation fee rate hike. Prior to the evening's meeting the Trustees held a workshop with Engineering & Utilities Board (UEB) Chair Aaron Caplan regarding those two issues. According to UEB's findings the sanitation fund has been running at a $200K deficit annually. Caplan said the group hasn't been able to find any significant area in the budget to trim, so their suggestion is to raise the user fee from $5.65 per thousand gallons to $8.65 per thousand. Since the average household uses about three thousand gallons of water per month, this would work out to about $9 per month per household. Caplan estimated that each dollar increase would bring in approximately $50K additional revenue annually, which would significantly reduce the deficit spending. Two factors that have led to increased costs at the plant are the elevated BOD numbers, which seem to be coming from various businesses that are contributing a heavy load to the system and apparently aren't complying with grease trap regulations (regular cleaning and reporting of such to the Town on a quarterly basis); and a disproportionate amount of service/maintenance required for the lift stations that serve three areas (Stone Canyon, Eagle Canyon, and a lower section of Lyons Valley Park).
None of the elected officials was gung-ho to raise rates, but all saw it as a necessary step. Trustee Wendy Miller wanted the hike to be “as low as possible.” Driestadt and Trustee Michael Karavas agreed that it would be a “balancing act,” between higher rate hikes now and lesser hikes later, or lower hikes now and higher hikes in the future. Trustee Juli Waugh hoped that the solution might lie in a rate hike spread out over the base rate and the usage rate. Trustee Joycelyn Farrell suggested creating some sort of “compliance incentives” for the problem offenders with consideration of “an increased violation for noncompliance.”
Mayor Connie Sullivan said she struggled with passing on higher rates to the general population of users because of poor performance and noncompliance by the few. She also favored a surcharge for those specific areas that use a lift station, rather than having all users subsidize those areas (By the way, she lives in Eagle Canyon. You go girl!) One of the biggest hurdles to solving this riddle is coming up with a way to definitively identify and quantify the offenders and non-compliers, and either induce them into compliance or make them pay for not doing so. At this time the Town doesn't seem to have the resources nor man power to do so. In any event, it would seem that a rate hike may very well be coming in the future.
Another thorny issue that came up during general business was the proposed connecting multi-use trail between the McConnell Bridge and the Rtes. 36/66 intersection, which may someday connect with a trail system between Lyons and Longmont and Boulder. The Town has a $600K grant to construct the trail, but the clock is ticking on that money. The project must be underway by late August or early September. However, the trail can only go along Town-owned property. The plan is for it to go along the old railroad right-of-way, but some of that land has been leased to businesses along the route (Spirit Hound Distillery and Clark's Hardware) neither of whom wants to surrender their lease agreement. Town staff has approached the Highland Ditch Company about doing a land swap; Highland's land along the route next to their ditch for a parcel of Town-owned land next to Highland's diversion dam just below where the McConnell Ponds use to be. The two each less than a half acre (.2 – Highland and .34 – Town), but Highland has asked that the Town pay to relocate and upgrade their measuring station to the new parcel, and to build a flume at the new site (approximately $50K to $60K), which did not sit well with any of the Trustees, particularly Karavas. But, as Miller pointed out, “We may have to spend $60K to get $600K.” (The amount of the grant.) By the way, just to add a little more sand into the craw, Simonsen reported that the Highland land in question, was purchased from the Town back in the day for the exorbitant price of ten dollars. Ouch! Staff was instructed to continue negotiations with Highland, but again, the clock is ticking.
The Board then went into executive session to discuss three items: legal strategies for dealing with the Honeywell/wastewater treatment plant issue, the sale or transfer of real property in the Eastern Corridor, and the appointment of a Town Attorney and related professional services agreement.