In advancing a framework for the future of the CU South parcel, the Boulder City Council stressed a desire to study flood risk and mitigation on the site before solidifying annexation and development plans there.
On Tuesday night, after a long-awaited deliberation on the controversial property — 308 acres of University of Colorado-owned land in the southeast Boulder floodplain — the council voted 8-1 to approve a new land-use designation for CU South that allows for potential new development.
Over decades to come, the university hopes to build 1,125 housing units for students and employees, athletic fields and academic buildings on that acreage, and, for CU, the council’s vote represents the clearing of a significant hurdle to fulfillment of those ambitions.
This is the first time I’ve expressed my concern about the CU South Campus property. I have tried to keep an open mind about the needs of the… university especially for additional student and faculty housing. I have also supported the need for flood mitigation work on behalf of residents who have suffered from the 2013 flood. But, the overly ambitious plan for housing and academic building development seems totally out of character with this property.This is one of the last precious Boulder resources where nature and wildlife still thrive. You just have to look at Chautauqua to see what pressures humans have put on the natural world. There is just something wrong about taking away living space from the creatures that make up the natural world.
Back almost 30 years ago, when I was on the City Council, we engaged in a very detailed study of the major drainages that flow through Boulder, and the likely damage that could result from floods. Our objective was to come up with appropriate risk mitigation standards… Out of this study came Boulder’s regulatory standard using the 100-year and 500-year flood maps and also the high hazard areas, which were based on such flows.
Setting the rules based on these standards was a compromise. The council did end up requiring some buildings that were at very serious risk to be torn down. But buildings in areas at somewhat lower risk were left in place, even though they never should have been built in the first place.
The current regulations need some serious updating. First, they are not appropriate for areas where development can be avoided; they were created for already-developed areas, and so compromise the level of protection. Second, the frequency/intensity forecasts are really just educated guesses because the historic events are so infrequent, so they form a weak basis for doing quantitative risk assessment. Third, and critically important, the climate is changing, so we can expect more and more intense flood events.
In the CU South debate, there’s one pesky fact that keeps getting buried. Well, actually, there are dozens, but the one that boggles my mind the most is this: In 1996, CU knowingly purchased 220 acres of unincorporated, open space-designated land on the South Boulder Creek floodplain…
Now CU is demanding that the city and county remove the open space designation, annex the land, and give CU almost carte blanche to build whatever it would like. This is a little bit like someone buying a chicken and demanding City Council transform it into a goose that lays golden eggs. Except CU wants a whole flock of golden geese…
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.
4 Body Review Changes
CU South – Flood Mitigation
There are viable options to consider other than the controversial development of CU South. Why not cap the enrollment of CU, so that additional housing, classrooms, and playing fields are not necessary?Since the doors to the University of Colorado opened in 1876 with 44 students, the University of Colorado has expanded and become a four-campus system including Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, and the University of Colorado Medical Campus. With a combined enrollment of over 62,000 students from these four campuses. CU Boulder supports over 31,861 students. In 2015, 6,208 freshman students were enrolled and more students are being admitted every year. It is time to cap the enrollment and consider what is best for the community of Boulder.
Respected environmentalist Tim Hogan’s letter to the newspaper, outlining the issues. For many longtime residents of Boulder, the current proposal from the university requesting annexation, engineered flood mitigation, and additions to their housing and academic building portfolio stirs up a host of reservations. The more one delves into the details, the greater those reservations become.
Source: CU-South | PBC