People with comments and suggestions about proposals for major updates to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan can present their arguments during a joint Wednesday afternoon public hearing by the Boulder County Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners.
Key Items: 4 Body Review Changes CU South – Flood Mitigation
The most important and time-tested component of American democracy is the concept of checks and balances. It ensures the interests of a few never override the values and interests of the larger community. It protects against corruption. It protects against tyranny.On June 13, Boulder City Council’s nine members met to contemplate eliminating Boulder County’s most important system of checks and balances: the BVCP’s four-body review process for land-use changes. Boulder’s four governing bodies are the county commissioners, county Planning Commission, City Council, and city Planning Board.
When the County Planning Commission (CPC) recently — and wisely — voted to maintain the existing density and reject Boulder County Housing Authority’s overreach at Twin Lakes, it sent shock waves through the halls of power in Boulder County — and the city. How dare this governing body listen to the people they serve? How dare they defy the back-door power plays of the county?
Boulder County Planning Commission would lose veto power on key parcels; County commissioners would not.
City Council members, a slight majority of whom would like to limit Boulder County’s control over future city expansion, appear to have come to some agreement on a proposed revision to the procedure by which city and county cooperate on long-range, land-use planning.
In an unofficial straw-poll vote taken late Tuesday night, the council supported a compromise that would let the Board of County Commissioners retain veto power over changes to parcels in categories known as Area II and the Area III-Planning Reserve.
However, the Boulder County Planning Commission would lose its voice in those two areas, under the straw-poll plan.
The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) is an agreement that guides land use in the Boulder County area that surrounds the city of Boulder (about 12,000 residents and 44,000 acres of land) and within the city (about 104,000 residents and 16,000 acres). Recent comments from several Boulder City Council members indicate some frustration with implementation of the BVCP using a process called “four-body review.” Under these time-honored and effective procedures, some BVCP changes of policy and land-use designation must be approved by majority votes of the four bodies with expertise in land-use decisions: City Council, Planning Board, county commissioners, and county Planning Commission.As former members and chairs of the county Planning Commission (both of us) and the city Planning Board (one of us), we believe we have a thorough understanding of BVCP processes. The four-body approval process ensures both responsiveness to the electoral process (all those formally involved in the approval process are either elected or appointed by elected officials) and long-term stability necessary for BVCP implementation, providing residents and local government a clear indication of how their neighborhoods and lands are to be managed in the coming years. Because of the BVCP’s important role in coordinating city and county actions and decisions, representing the interests of both city and county residents, and its generally acknowledged success over the past four decades, changes to the process by which the BVCP is adopted should be considered only with great care.
Several Boulder County Planning Commission members objected Wednesday to the possibility that they might lose their current ability to approve or reject proposed changes to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
During a joint Wednesday afternoon discussion of comprehensive plan issues with the Board of County Commissioners and city and county planning staffs, Planning Commissioner Sam Fitch argued for retaining the four-party review-and-approval requirement.
That’s “really important,” Fitch said. “Land-use mistakes are very hard to reverse.”
A Boulder City Council majority has emerged in favor of removing the county commissioners and county planning commissioners from their present decision-making roles about proposed changes in Area II.