Boulder may have to suspend the issuance of building permits and other development applications for a time if voters approve a citizen-initiated charter amendment to require new development to pay for its impacts, Boulder City Attorney Tom Carr said in a memo to the council Friday.
Carr prepared two memos, one on each of the Livable Boulder proposed charter amendments, in response to a request from the City Council to look at how procedures might change, what work planners and lawyers might have to do and what the possible costs would be if they pass.
The decision to request the memos divided the council as it came on the heels of a proposal from Councilman Macon Cowles that the council pass a resolution in opposition to the measures.
That idea didn’t get support from other council members, some of whom instead asked Carr to render a legal opinion on the likely impacts. Carr told the council that he would attempt to be as neutral as possible.
“Development Shall Pay Its Own Way” would require the city to establish levels of service and not approve projects unless they pay or provide facilities to not diminish that level of service.
If the ballot measure passes in November, Carr said the city should consider suspending any development activity, including building permits, until it can determine which types of requests are affected and what ordinances the city needs to comply with the measure. Development activities that aren’t affected by the measure could resume once that determination was made.
The city would then need to determine service standards and the types of data and analyses the city would need to comply with the measure.
Carr said there may be a variety of ways to comply, such as giving property owners options to either build infrastructure or contribute money toward community infrastructure, or adopting a public facilities ordinance that times new development to be concurrent with new infrastructure.
In his analysis of the other initiative, “Neighborhoods’ Right to Vote on Land Use Regulation Changes,” Carr agreed with proponents that the measure would not allow for votes on individual projects or exemptions.
The city would need to create legal definitions and boundaries of neighborhoods, and neighborhood boundaries themselves might be subject to a vote of the affected neighborhoods, he said.
The elections allowed under the initiative would cost between $1 and $3 per voter, according to estimates provided by the county.
Carr said the council should consider an ordinance describing the land use regulations subject to the initiative. Carr said the city should also delay any land use code changes that are in progress until procedures are in place for elections.
Boulder’s charter already allows for voters to overturn council land use code decisions, but the current rules require 10 percent of the voters in the entire city to petition within 30 days of council approval. The new measure would give opponents 60 days to collect signatures from 10 percent of the voters in a neighborhood to hold an election that would just affect that area.
Erica Meltzer: 303-473-1355, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/meltzere