City council OKs two annexations in east Boulder

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Cherryvale Road home; courtesy City of Boulder

Council on Tuesday night gave two unanimous OKs to add two properties to Boulder: 5469 South Boulder Road and 1179 Cherryvale Road will become part of the city, and in exchange, Boulder may get 5-7 new affordable homes. 

The South Boulder property is 1.91 acres owned by a family trust (DKR Living Revocable Trust) that will be zoned RL-2, a medium density zoning. As such, up to 14 homes could be built on the site: either duplexes, triplexes or fourplexes.

A medium-density zoning “allows for diversity of housing types which supports community diversity and (therefore) a spectrum of the community from singles to family members,” said case manager Sloane Walbert.

Each dwelling requires 6,000 square feet of open space, per zoning regulations. But the open space for each unit can be pooled and centrally located; council member Sam Weaver suggested it be concentrated near Dry Creek No. 2 ditch to mitigate flood risks, while housing be built toward South Boulder Road.  The ditch overflowed in the 2013 flooding; the city will retain a 50-foot easement for additional protection.

Also included in the annexation is a 70-foot strip of city open space land on 66 S. Cherryvale Road. The land will be zoned public.

Annexation policies dictate some community benefit be provided to Boulder. What determines community benefit is still being worked on by council, except for the one everyone agrees on: affordable housing.

Half of all homes built on the South Boulder Road site will be permanently affordable. Four units will be dedicated to middle-class residents: two reserved for those making 100% Area Median Income and two for those earning 120% AMI. (In 2018, Boulder County’s AMI was $76,100 for a single person and $86,900 for a two-person household.)

Council was enthusiastic about the amount of affordable units that could be gained were the land to be developed; plans are not currently in place. The inclusion of middle-income homes, in particular, garnered enthusiasm.

“The community benefit package is the best I’ve ever seen on an annexation,” councilman Aaron Brockett said. “It will make a real difference to a number of folks who otherwise could not afford housing in our city.”

Two people spoke during the public hearing, both in favor of the annexation. Kristi Scott, a Longmont resident and long-time friend of the family who owns and once lived at 5469 South Boulder Road, said the annexation was bittersweet.

“This property is going to change, and a lot of us are not happy about it,” she said. “But it can change for good. Affordable housing can help a lot of people.

Cherryvale Road annexation stirs floodplain debate for council

The other annexation Tuesday night, 1179 Cherryvale Road, was more bitter than sweet for some. The 1.04 acres is home to Scott Mason Raney and Min Sheng, who live in a 5,792-square-foot house. Their annexation plans stirred concern among neighbors that a structure might be built or moved to the back of the property, on what they referred to as the meadow.

“I’m here to talk about the meadow and my love for the meadow,” said Michelle Sanders. She asked that council attach a condition to the annexation that a structure could not be located in the meadow, which she said was classified as a riparian corridor and therefore critical for wildlife.

Raney disputed that, characterizing the area as farmland. “We wouldn’t be willing to entertain restrictions on that because it doesn’t apply to anyone else,” he said. “Many of our neighbors have sheds back there.”

He does intend to add an accessory dwelling unit, but at the front of the property where a smaller house once stood, not in the meadow.

The ADU would be in the 500-year floodplain. Planning Board, in its unanimous approval of the annexation, recommended that a condition be attached to disallow structures to be built in the floodplain. Staff didn’t recommend that, since it would be out of keeping with the city’s own regulations.

“It conflicts with the city’s typical requirements,” said case manager Shannon Moeller. “Under the terms of annexation, the property would be subject to the same floodplain regulations as the rest of the city.”

The applicant also has the option of adding more fill to remove the property from the floodplain, which Moeller noted would negate the condition Planning Board wanted to attach.

Council agreed that while it wasn’t ideal to allow buildings in the floodplain, an annexation application wasn’t the appropriate time for a discussion on that issue.

“We can’t hang the applicant out to dry for the city’s misdoings,” said councilwoman Cindy Carlisle, “but I’m shocked this hasn’t been addressed.”

“We need a discussion at some point about building policies in the floodplain,” added councilwoman Lisa Morzel. “The fact that so much of our city is in the 100-year floodplain is a problem. We can’t do anything about that, but what we can do is not go forward with future developments in the 100-year floodplain until we have this discussion.”

For live tweets from council’s discussion of these annexations, click here.

— Shay Castle, boulderbeatnews@gmail.com, @shayshinecastle
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