In 2006, Dr. Villavicencio purchased 21 acres of land in North Boulder on the eastern side of Highway 36 (at Yarmouth Ave.) from Boulder Community Hospital. Since that time, Dr. V has acquired or gained control of an additional 44 adjacent acres. All of the land was specifically acquired with the sole intent to build a large multi-sport training complex.
The Planning Reserve Background
The land that was acquired by Dr. V is located in Boulder County just outside of the limits of the city of Boulder. The land is part of a 500-acre area that has a unique land use designation in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (the joint City and County document that guides development in the city) known as Area III – Planning Reserve. (Area I is land within the city of Boulder; Area II is land outside the city but planned for annexation to the city; and Area III is all other land surrounding the city.)
In 1994, after completion of an extensive Area III Planning Project that included a series of public hearings, the four approval bodies (City Planning Board, City Council, County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners) agreed to designate land “in the ‘West Portion-Northcentral Area’ as Area III-Planning Reserve because it presented very limited environmental constraints, was proximate to urban services, and was of sufficient overall size to potentially accommodate the conclusions of the future vacant land needs analysis.” The Planning Reserve would be for future urban expansion and the remainder of Area III was designated as Rural Preservation Area.
At the same time, procedures were adopted to the BVCP that would be initiated by the City and County to provide for expansions into the Planning Reserve. The process, which is considered extraordinarily convoluted even by seasoned city planners, requires development proposed in the Planning Reserve to: 1)Have benefits that outweigh its impacts; 2)To be a “priority need” that otherwise cannot be met within the existing city boundaries; 3)To be considered by the City only during the once every five years BVCP major update process; and 4)Receive approval from all four bodies at multiple points in the process.
If a proposal somehow finds a way to make it through the two-year plus Planning Reserve process, which includes multiple public hearings and at least two points where mandatory four-body approval (City Council, City Planning Board, Board of County Commissioners, and County Planning Commission) is required, the property would then be eligible for annexation. (There is broad agreement, however, that the process is designed to be so complex and rigorous that no project could ever get approved.) At that point, a project team could then initiate what could easily be another two-year plus process to get the land annexed, zoning put in place, and the project design approved with two-body approval (City Council and City Planning Board).
City Council Hearings
In early 2010, during the required BVCP five-year update window, the BMT team submitted a request to the City to move 65 acres out of the Planning Reserve. The request fueled an extensive conversation amongst members of City Council and the community about the need for a project like the BMT and the future of the Planning Reserve. On May 25, 2010, City Council voted unanimously to direct city staff to study the BMT proposal. Dozens of supporters of the BMT and of sports in our community came to the hearing to urge Council to move forward with the project.
In October of 2010, Council voted to direct staff to put review of the BMT proposal on hold while staff worked on recommended revisions to the Planning Reserve process. On May 24 and June 7, 2011, respectively, the City Planning Board and City Council voted to adopt staff recommended changes to the Planning Reserve Process.
The major changes that were adopted include allowing projects to be submitted to the City anytime (rather than just every five years) and changing the approval process from all four bodies to just City Council and City Planning Board. This last change is the most significant, because it would take a lot of risk out of the process as well as streamline it significantly.
Where We are Today
In August, 2011 the proposed changes to the BVCP that were adopted by both City bodies went to the County Planning Commission for a vote. (To make a change to a process that involves all four bodies, all four bodies have to agree on identical changes. Therefore any one of the four bodies has veto power.) Despite the staff recommendation to the Commission to adopt all of the changes and an articulate argument for the same by then Mayor Susan Osborne, the Commission voted 6-0 against the changes (3 commissioners were not there). The one issue that they all objected to was changing to a 2-body review, which meant the Commission would get to review proposals in the Planning Reserve but would not vote on them.
Because the Planning Commission voted down the proposed changes, the Board of County Commissioners postponed their vote on the issue. And that is where we are today. Some revised version of the proposed changes will need to go to all four bodies again and hope that they can all agree. Until they do, the BMT can’t move forward.
What You Can Do To Help
All we are asking for is a chance for the BMT to go through process (a long, expensive, and rigorous process)! First we need all four bodies to adopt the changes to the Planning Reserve Process that were already approved by the City. Then we need City Council to direct staff to let the BMT start the process.
- Email members of City Council (especially the two new members, Tim Plass and Suzanne Jones, who were not on Council for any of the previous votes) to let them know how important the BMT is to our community and that they should do everything they can to move the project forward. You can email them all at once at: Council@bouldercolorado.gov, but it is more impactful to send them a note individually. City Council email addresses can be found on the City website at: http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=459&Itemid=2009
- Do the same for the City Planning Board. Email all Board members at once at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do the same for the County Planning Commission. Email the Planning Commission via the County Land Use Director Dale Case at: email@example.com
- Do the same for the Board of County Commissioners: Email them all at once at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sign up on our email distribution list so we can keep you updated. See the Contact Us page to sign up.
- Tell your friends to do Steps 1 and 5 above.