BOULDER’S TIMEOUT ON TALL BUILDINGS COULD BECOME LAW OF THE LAND
ByAdmin|JUN 13, 2018|Local Real Estate
Staff working to determine what to trade for increased height
If you go What: Public hearing on whether to extend or make permanent ban on 55-foot buildings When: Tuesday, June 5. Meeting starts at 6 p.m.; height limit discussion will follow two other public hearings expected to last fours Where: 1777 Broadway
The fate of a rule that restricts city building heights could be decided Tuesday night as the Boulder City Council looks to either extend or make permanent a moratorium that is in its third year. Passed in 2015, the ordinance limits developers’ ability to construct 55-foot-tall projects. Fifty-five feet is the voter-approvedceiling ensconced in the city charter since 1971, but it must be granted through modifications. Before the temporary timeout, such variances could be granted throughout the city. Now they are limited to certain areas or uses — or given in exchange for projects that provide “community benefit,” such as affordable housing. The latter exception is at the crux of the continued timeout on taller buildings. Council in early 2017 extended the ordinance for 15 months to allow staff to determine what, exactly, constitutes community benefit, and how it should be measured. But that project only began in earnest at the start of this year, said Senior Planner Karl Guiler, after City Council during its January retreat directed staff to look at a wider array of community benefits. For example, a recently identified value is affordable commercial space, which became a council concern after a spate of business closings and complaints over ever-higher lease rates and property taxes. “We have to look at what are the different types of community benefits there can be, define them and figure out how you weigh them against one another,” Guiler said. “What’s the value of afford housing versus affordable commercial, or uses like social services?” One option before council — to extend the ordinance again, this time until September 2019 — would hopefully allow staff time to complete that work. The other choice would be to remove the ban’s expiration date altogether, making the de facto height limits in most of the city 35 to 40 feet. That’s the course the Planning Board recommended in a 4-3 vote earlier this year. There also is some indication that council may extend the scope of the ordinance as well as its length. Council directed staff to provide details on exempted areas along with the “justifications” for those exemptions, according to internal documentation. Council members will first hear from members of the public, who have been vociferous in their positions. The previous extension drew more than 130 emails and three dozen speakers to a hearing that lasted hours. Tuesday’s public hearing is third in a lineup of hot-button issues, including tweaks to the city’s accessory dwelling rules and a measure that would force landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers and rent to undocumented citizens. The height limit hearing is anticipated to last nearly an hour. Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, email@example.com or twitter.com/shayshinecastle
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