Let Confusion Reign

There was a proposed agreement to simplify the Hwy 119 corridor with adequate access points and signal spacing. It had nothing to do with urban sprawl, or as Longmont City Councilman Sean McCoy calls it “green field sprawl”. Watch the video below and see how it’s twisted and convoluted, if you can follow.

If you can make it through the stammering, you’re probably asking how does signal spacing and access points encourage “green field sprawl” exactly? And the Weld County Commissioners are in the business of growing a city (Longmont) beyond what Mr. McCoy believes it can handle? He threw out the “exceptional benefit” a couple of times, taking lessons from Ms. Levison? Again though, this isn’t a land grab, so what’s the point with this term? Then he brings up the never incorporated town of Freedom “in some peoples understanding” as he put it, what some people, like two?
And mentioning Freedom, an idea hatched to put the brakes on the Union Lifebridge development, he gives yet another indirect backhand to this church and its members.

Then he said we need to spend more time on urban renewal. What’s the largest urban renewal project that’s been in the news for the last few months? Twin Peaks Mall, a project he has continually voted against. So there’s some talking out of both sides of the mouth there.

But he’s not alone on this city council when it comes to applying a double standard when it comes to Lifebridge and the Mall.
…to be continued.

You’re Building What Where?

There was a front page article in the Daily Times-Call on Sunday June 29, 2008 entitled ” Landowners in Limbo” which tells the story about land and business owners around the area where the FasTracks station is supposed to be built.

I watched with interest the June 3, 2008 Longmont City Council when they talked about this subject. When I saw the map on the screen, it sure looked like the station’s parking lot was located where Budget Home Center currently sits. If you were like me, as you watched this, you probably assumed that some deal had already been discussed and that the land owners were aware of this plan.

Apparently, according to this article, they weren’t.

At about the 55 minute mark of the June 3rd meeting video, you can see the concepts for this area. This information was in a council packet at the time of this meeting, but is no longer part of the PDF on the city’s site. The agenda itself can be found at http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/city_council/agendas/2008/060308.htm

Councilman Brian Hansen did ask about the smaller property owners, to which the answer was that they could pool together and be part of the larger development, but ” they haven’t explored in any detail” this idea – and it sounds like they may not have shared this idea with the land owners either.

I’ve frequented Budget Home Center quite a bit over the years, and figured that the competition from Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware was just too much for them, and they might fade away for the purposes of this light rail station. According to Budget’s owner Butch Vernon, that is not the case. Besides not hearing anything from RTD, he’s hoping they will relocate his business or compensate him so he can relocate it himself.

Unfortunately, a spokesperson for RTD said they do use eminent domain and will resort to condemnation if no agreement can be made with the land owner. In other words, they’ll just take it if they want it.

Is that what the voters in Longmont really voted for? Light rail at any cost, regardless of the human and business debris it leaves behind? All you anti-big box store (like Home Depot) types who defend smaller local businesses (like Budget Home Center), where are you on this one? (I hear crickets, and hypocrites)

What is with this trend of trampling all over property owners rights in Longmont? Some examples: the attempt to take Emery Street to the detriment of surrounding property owners. The fiasco with Lifebridge and other property owners near Union Reservoir, stalling into oblivion plans to work their own property. George Marxmiller and the city’s virtual taking of some of his property and denial of release of his liability, making him risk everything. The property owners of the Twin Peaks Mall area, and the hoops they’re being required to jump through. And now this.

And who’s making all this noise and doing all this meddling? Little tyrants running around with probably little to not much property of their own, since they probably can’t afford to live in their own little nirvana to the southwest? So if they’re going to be miserable settling for Longmont, the rest of us have to share in their misery? The same types who want to mold Longmont into something other than what it is, and not something better. Some were even elected!

This is what you get when you just let bureaucrats, and their fawning citizen apologists, run roughshod unchecked and not held accountable. Not to worry, what are the odds of this happening to, or affecting, you? Probably higher than you think.

City Council Cheap Shots

At the May 27, 2008 Longmont City Council Meeting, Councilmember Sean McCoy took a couple of swipes at Lifebridge Christian Church (without saying their name). Here is the YouTube video, which can also be found at the Longmont Advocate YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffiExb7rzYk

He mentions a ” 40 year vesting“. The previous City Council approved 3/5/15 year vesting for residential, commercial, and civic/religious respectively. Or are new councilmembers not only throwing away past decisions, but ignorant of them as well?

He mentioned ” height restrictions” requests from a different church requesting to be annexed into Longmont. Lifebridge didn’t ask for height restrictions, but height exemptions, slight difference. And guess what they just got from Firestone? An exemption higher than what Longmont had approved during those negotiations. This is but the first example of what many of us were warning would happen if Longmont didn’t move forward with the annexation – looser standards, and of course less permit fee’s, and property and sales taxes.

The issue of height restrictions was something the anti-annexers were saying, but Mr. McCoy reminded us this current council had nothing to do with Lifebridge pulling out, yet he’s echoing these people, and of course his pre-election unfavorable comments about this annexation.

He mentioned ” low income housing exemptions” and ” million dollar homes“. The master plan calls for three housing districts; one primarily for seniors consisting of detached and attached homes, plus duplexes and triplexes; another area of general single-family residential homes, and a third district (on the north side of site) of custom homes. It is conceivable some of the custom homes could cost $1 million or more, but this is a very small percentage of available housing planned for Union. By contrast, Lifebridge will fully comply with the city standard of 10% low income affordable housing with no special exemption. So his “million dollar homes” is an obvious intentional exaggeration to anyone who looks at the actual plan.

He mentioned ” huge retail complex“,another gross exaggeration. He makes it sound as if it’ll be Harvest Junction East when there’s clearly no room for such an endeavor. Of course there will be some shops, but not this big-box haven he makes it out to be.

He wanted to make sure ” we were all onboard“, well, yeah, some people are, on a ship of fools.

Longmont: Take The Deal

OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR LANGE AND LONGMONT CITY COUNCIL

For the record, I have no stake whatsoever in the following. I am not a landowner near this property, I am not a member of Lifebridge, nor do I speak for them or have ever been asked to. The proposal by Firestone’s Mayor Chad Auer in reference to Lifebridge Christian Church’s properties should be seriously considered and accepted without delay.

We’ve all been entertained by the antics for the last few months by some of your ” surrogate agitators and aggressors“, but the time for stalling and playing games is over. You have a decision to make and you can’t procrastinate any longer. This is what you were elected to do; take input and make policy. This deal is probably the absolute best you’re going to get; to pass on it would be foolish.

Six of the current seven councilmembers were involved in the recent elections of November and January. When you consider what “majority” you think you’re representing, keep in mind only three of you actually won with a majority ( Lange, McCoy, and Santos), one of you lost by a majority ( Benker in the mayors race) and the other two got in with less than a majority ( Hansen and Levison). Your decision, one way or the other, will bring out some citizens with pitchforks, figuratively, and you need to figure out which ones you’re willing to anger. Whatever political future you think you might have hangs in the balance, because this decision will affect Longmont for decades.

Personally, I think the landowners are giving away too much in this deal. They’ve been the target of slanderous and libelous attacks by some mouthpieces of certain councilmembers. These councilmembers and their attack dogs should be nervous about the recent Open Records request. There are limits to freedom of speech, and I’m willing to bet there are some shady backroom conversations certain people and councilmembers would rather keep out of the public eye. It’s probably too late for that, and I believe that if Longmont doesn’t take this deal, this so-called ” massive” open records request will be followed by a ” massive” lawsuit that Longmont can not afford, and will ultimately lose. In that scenario, all of us taxpayers are the losers.

The anti-annexation crowd didn’t want Lifebridge annexed into Longmont, this offer addresses that, and this group gets their wish. Longmont officials wanted a buffer; this offer addresses that as well. The only hitch is that Longmont has to come up with the money to buy this land as open space. None of you thought this would come for free, did you? This is prime real estate on Hwy 119, another reason I believe the landowners are giving away too much in this deal.

Longmont isn’t and hasn’t been dealing from a position of strength. It really doesn’t hold any cards and stand to lose much. The cute game of de-annexing and re-annexing, including certain roads with the goal of cutting off access to the landowners’ property, was a dirty trick and will cost the city at the county, state, and court levels if you allow this charade to continue. As strategies go, that was a bad move, and now it’s just about checkmate.

We all know some of you ran on, and had the backing of the anti-annexation movement. It’s become clearly evident that they were never just “anti-annexation” or looking out for what was “in it” for Longmont. They’ve followed and harassed the landowners from one city to another, then on to the county level, and have included in their attacks members of a church that has been part of this community for a century. This group has made it clear this church is no longer welcomed here, and the silence by some on council on this attack is tantamount to approval of this despicable behavior. Behavior, that by and large is by only a handful of people, and a small minority who signed the petition (which less than half voted for the anti-annexation candidate in January), yet council gives them the illusion that they are an actual majority of Longmont citizens, which they don’t come close to actually being.

My guess is that your attorneys and staff will suggest you accept this offer, regardless if you can afford the land in question or not. The impending lawsuit could be much more expensive in the long run, with no open space to show for it in the end, unlike with this offer. Some of you need to publicly divorce and disassociate yourselves with the vocal minority who has brought Longmont to this sad and unfortunate position. And do it quickly, you’ve stalled enough.

Cordially,
Chris Rodriguez

Can of Worms

At the April 29, 2008 Longmont City Council meeting, at the late, nearly eleven o’clock hour, something interesting happened. Quite often, the most interesting things happen during “Council Comments” at the end of every meeting, it’s worth Tivo’ing.

In the Times-Call of the same date, there was a story about Lifebridge Church. It, according to the paper, ” submitted amassive open records request to the city, asking for public documents spanning 20 years.” So it sounds as if the attorneys of Lifebridge delivered a mountain of paper (massive) for this request! Oh, the tree’s who paid with their lives, er, leaves. I’m sure it was meant that the result of this request will be ” massive“.

At the City Council meeting, Councilmember Karen Benker asked City Attorney Clay Douglas about this and it turned into a fairly long discussion covering emails, phone calls, and the recording and reporting of these. Some of you may not have been aware, but every correspondence you send to city council, and presumably city staff, is of the open record variety. And, when councilmembers receive these, they are to forward them on to city staff for retention.

I got the strong impression this hasn’t been followed by some on council. And there seemed to be concern about “personal” emails, and when items are confidential and when they aren’t. It sounds like very little is private when it comes to just about any correspondence between constituents and their city council members. If the constituent states that it is confidential, there could be some coverage there. But it doesn’t go the other way, that is, from the councilmember to the constituent, according to Mr. Douglas.

Apparently, the proper way for a councilmember to respond to an email is for them to CC the reply to the appropriate city staff email address so they get a copy of the original email and the response. I guess if they don’t reply, they should just forward the email on, but that wasn’t made clear. And it was also implied that if the councilmember replies and forwards the reply on, it must include the original email from the constituent or the Open Records Act was not properly followed.

I email councilmembers from time to time, and not to “fish” for a violation of this act, but for valid questions. I’m sure some of you do as well. Just for fun, in your replies from council, check the “From” area to see if anyone is in the CC list. It’s possible it was a blind CC, but why would a councilmember want to hide the fact they followed procedure, and the law for that matter?

The question of recording telephone conversations came up, and Mr. Douglas said ” any communication“, which might be construed as including telephone calls. But something else he said here got my attention: ” A telephone conversation among councilmembers if it involves the requisite three members or majority can become an open meeting, and affording the public access to that can pose its own challenges.” Catch that?

To me, that says if there is a conference call between 3 or more members, that we the public can and should have access to that conversation. My question is does that apply to emails sent between councilmembers to more than one other councilmember? And, how about get-togethers outside of council meetings that include 3 or more councilmembers? Especially if they discuss city business?

This could get interesting, and I doubt Lifebridge was aware of what that request has and could evolve in to. I’ve done requests of city records before, usually airport related issues, and have always found the City Clerks Office more than helpful in this area. I hope they aren’t about to get swamped.

Which “Agitators and Aggressors”?

At the 3/25/08 Longmont City Council meeting, Sean McCoy, in his recurring role as appointed insulter, took aim this time at a website. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNslIi6DAM4


He called them ” surrogate agitators and aggressors“, and thanked the Longmont Police for showing up to the meeting, apparently for ” his and his family’s protection.” Would this be the same Longmont Police that Mr. McCoy accepted a $1,000 donation and Times-Call advertisement from, and are now pushing to make it so they can never donate to a campaign in Longmont again? Might they have been there because of reports of a regular attendee carrying a good size knife on him at council meetings? Did this genius know that? I’m betting not.

But since Mr. McCoy is accusing people exercising their Freedom Of Speech, which include phone or “robo-calls”, with terms like this, and feels the need for police protection for these robo-calls, I’d like to ask him for some consistency.

There were emails sent out that said a similar thing as these robo-calls, ” you need to come to tonight’s meeting“. These were sent by members of Progress Now Action, and while it clearly has an anti-Lifebridge tone, here’s the most hilarious part: Some were sent to current Lifebridge members! In some cases multiple emails sent to separate accounts of the same member! Talk about utter stupidity.

And here it is…
—————————————————————————————————-
Subject: FW: Your support is needed at a critical time for Longmont
Date: 3/25/2008 1:29:55 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time
From: info@progressnowaction.org
Reply To: jen@progressnowaction.org

XXXX,
Kaye Fissinger, a ProgressNow member in Longmont, asked me to forward you an urgent update on the LifeBridge/4C Development. I’ve forwarded her email below.

To: Jen Caltrider
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2008
From: Kaye Fissinger
Subject: URGENT – We need Longmont residents to attend the City Council meeting TONIGHT

Fellow Longmont Residents,

Earlier this year Longmont residents banded together to prevent a proposed annexation by the LifeBridge/4C Development Corporation. The proposed annexation would have cost Longmont residents thousands in taxpayer dollars every year.

Now, LifeBridge is at it again. This time they’re trying to get the land for their development annexed through the City of Firestone.

The Longmont City Council is poised to vote for annexation of three pieces of open space on our Weld County border for use as open space. If Longmont annexes this open space land, we will effectively prevent Firestone from annexing the LifeBridge development and protect wildlife habitat.

I want to invite other Longmont residents to join me at the LongmontCity Council meeting tonight to make sure the City Council knows that Longmont residents want this open space annexed.

The City Council meeting starts at 7:00 pm at City Hall, 350 Kimbark Street in Longmont.

Last night, Longmont residents were subjected to robo calls designed to further LifeBridge’s cause. The message urged residents to keep the City Council from annexing the property in question. So, we expect LifeBridge supporters to turn out in force and we need to make sure that Longmont City Council hears our voices as well.

Thanks again. I look forward to seeing everyone tonight at the City Council meeting.
Kaye Fissinger
Longmont Resident
————————————————————————————————–
Well, now, as the SNL Church Lady would say, isn’t that special? Of all the people who got up and spoke at this meeting, I don’t remember seeing a single Lifebridge supporter. It was a cacophony of the usual anti-Lifebridge crowd. Using Mr. McCoy’s logic and his worrying that the robo-calls would bring out people that meant him harm, in reality, it was the above email that appeared to have more impact based on who showed up and who spoke. ” Lifebridge is at it again“? “…w e will prevent Firestone from annexing the Lifebridge development“? “…make sure the City Council knows…” ? That sounds pretty accusatory, negative, aggressive, and agitating, possibly more so than the robo-calls.

Why do I get the feeling Mr. McCoy won’t chastise them in the same manner?

Mr. McCoy, who were you meaning when you said ” and others” during your accusations? Did you mean Progress Now Action? If you meant them or someone else you should say it. I’m sure you don’t want to appear to be inconsistent or partisan. Cherry picking can be a dangerous and embarrassing thing if you, a) either don’t have all the facts, or b) don’t know what you’re talking about.

Longmont/Firestone Dustup Pt.3

VIEWER WARNING: This piece is bound to really irritate some people. I’m well aware of the anger this will illicit, and your expected complaints have been considered. I try to be constructive when I criticize, but sometimes it’s nearly impossible. This is such a case. In the interest of completeness, and sharing this continuing story, I submit the following:

So far, I’ve reported on Firestone’s Trustee Board meeting, now it’s Longmont‘s turn. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot said about Firestone’s comments, but I suspect there will be as Firestone just approved the Firelight Park annexation.

But there was this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZnG9kXAsnk

In it, Longmont City Councilmember Sean McCoy rips into Firestone’s Mayor Mike Simone over his comment ” LifeBridge was forced to “walk away” by the election of an anti-religious faction to the LongmontCity Council“. He also took offense to the ” immoral” description of Longmont made by Trustee Steve Curtis. He said he found it ” very unethical on this individuals part“, meaning Mayor Simone. He basically threatened a lawsuit for slander.

Where to begin.

I’ve been to ONE Firestone board meeting, and I’m not an elected official or anything, but even I know that they are a Board of Trustee’s, NOT a City Council. Members are called Trustee’s, NOT Councilmembers. I’m starting to agree with several people who have mentioned to me this constant habit of getting peoples names wrong (and I guess titles now) and how it shows a total lack of respect. In this case, it’s Firestone’s leaders. In other cases, well, you listen for it yourself.

Next, Mr. McCoy’s complaining of ” inflammatory” comments. Some of us about fell out of our chairs on this one. This is the same guy who called people he disagreed with (we’re talking citizens here, not elected officials) ” the lunatic fringe“. He also said in the same breath how Longmont shouldn’t talk ” smack” about Boulder, yet it’s alright for Longmont to do that to Firestone? Watch the 1/29/08 video again ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEo7ZF3eKYU ) and replace Boulder with Longmont, and Longmont with Firestone in the appropriate places and context. I know some of you hate it when I point out total hypocrisy like this, but it speaks for itself here.

Then this outrage over the ” anti-religious” comment. Here’s the problem: On 1/8/08( http://denver.yourhub.com/Longmont/Blogs/News-Politics/Commentary/Blog~412831.aspx), Mr. McCoy made the point of his detachment from the Lifebridge issue as he said he and the other new members of council didn’t vote on Lifebridge. So in essence, he’s saying the new council had nothing to do with what happened to Lifebridge. If that’s the case, then why would he take offense to Mayor Simone’s inference that an anti-religious faction was to blame when THEY HADN’T EVEN BEEN ELECTED YET AND OBVIOUSLY COULDN’T VOTE ON IT, as Mr. McCoy himself made clear as his closing point on 1/8/08?

Mr. McCoy tried to make the case that other factors caused Lifebridge to pull out (remember the ” 600% of Longmont residents” nonsense?). He must not have believed that nonsense himself, most people I know didn’t buy it, and obviously the Firestone Board of Trustee’s didn’t swallow that line either. His anger over this comment revealed that his 1/8/08 comments were a whitewash, otherwise why would this sting so much?

To be fair, is it possible Mr. McCoy was truly outraged over being called ” anti-religious? Absolutely. I assume most public officials are concerned with the image they put out. They wouldn’t want to be publicly called ” anti-religious“, true or not, for fear of alienating over half of their constituents. Then again, insulting constituents is getting to be a regular occurrence for Mr. McCoy. Let’s now add leaders from other cities and the press to the list, the same press ( Times-Call) he bought ad space from during his campaign. Very consistent and principled, not.

What’s the point of all this? I know I won’t be popular holding these officials accountable in this fashion when it needs to be done, and I find no joy in doing it. But these are our elected representatives. They should avoid embarrassing themselves, and the rest of us, and I’m hoping they might look at and listen to themselves, and learn from it in the future. And you wonder why so many people (not just in Longmont) are apathetic to the issues and these officials? I’m trying to get more people involved, this doesn’t help.

Longmont/Firestone Dustup Pt.2

In the previous story, I ran Firestone’s Mayor Simone’s comments he made in the 3/17/08 Firestone Trustee Board meeting. There were more comments by other trustee’s as well. You might recall that this meeting was rescheduled from the previous Thursday as not enough board members showed up. There was some speculation this occurred because there was disagreement amongst board members, some might be purposely boycotting the meeting, or maybe some cold feet. Based on the comments I heard at the meeting, that speculation was false.

Until I get an actual tape or transcript of the meeting, here were some notes I jotted down from comments by some of the trustees: Butch Walb talked about the Longmont hoped-for buffer, that Longmont was basically saying “we don’t build, neither should you”. Sharon Falcone talked about enclaves and that buffers aren’t always good, using the example of some of Weld County‘s Mixed Used Development (MUD) areas that are not very attractive and were poorly planned, and have and could in the future be in areas cities might like to serve as buffers.

Charlie Thomas was for the extension of the Master Planning Area to the west, and that Longmont should’ve done more up to this point if they were interested in this area. Dennis Berton was also in favor of the Master Plan and didn’t want any more ” checkerboarding” of cities and enclaves. Steve Curtis was against Longmont’s buffer concept, and called it ” obscene” and ” immoral“. He was also in favor of the updated Master Plan. Julie Crowder was not present.

Mayor Simone was last to speak with the previously posted comments. Although he stuck pretty closely to those comments, he delivered it with the anger and outrage fitting the words. The comment ” LifeBridge was forced to “walk away” by the election of an anti-religious faction to the Longmont City Council” had the most visible impact as a couple of people stormed out of the meeting immediately after hearing it. While those people milled around in the lobby for the remainder of the entire meeting, and some of them after the meeting was over, they never returned to the meeting itself.

Something I didn’t expect was the ” swearing in” of citizens who spoke at this meeting. They had to answer “I do” or something similar to the question by the Mayor ” do you swear to tell the truth, so help you God?” or something like that. I’d just never seen that before. The other thing I noticed, which I thought was great, was the public reading into the record of emails and letters sent to the city about the item on the agenda. Granted, a city the size of Longmont may not have the time to do such a thing at their council meetings, but it was refreshing nonetheless.

I link to Tri-Town Online on my website, but rarely comment there, and it seems most of those people have a great deal of dislike for Mayor Simone and this Board of Trustees. I had forgotten that the print edition of YourHub for Longmont also goes to residents of Firestone (which surprisingly it and the other Tri-Town cities don’t have their own Hub), and I’d just recently written a story (” Hesitate To Emulatehttp://denver.yourhub.com/Longmont/Blogs/News-Politics/Commentary/Blog~438770.aspx ) that apparently got the attention of some of the members of the Trustee Board. While I didn’t get up to the podium at this event, and kept a low profile in the very back of the room, turns out I had some readers (and fans) in the crowd and on the board. That was different.

Up next, one Longmont city councilmembers angry response to this Firestone meeting.

Longmont/Firestone Dustup Pt.1

I was fortunate to have been one of only a couple people who attended both the 3/17/08 Firestone Trustee Board meeting and the 3/18/08 Longmont City Council meeting. Both were very interesting and will take a few parts to cover it all.

First up, the Firestone meeting. Mayor Mike Simone gave quite a speech, eliciting applause from most, but also outrage by others. I met Mayor Simone and told him Longmont residents should have a chance to hear his thoughts. Suspecting the Times-Call would probably not print what you are about to read, I offered to publish it, to which he happily agreed and sent me the following. This is a response to a 3/11/08 Times-Call Editorial entitled ” On leadership and land grabs“. The bold print is Mayor Simone’s responses. The underlined words were emphasized by Mayor Simone as well.
—————————————-
Firestone’s move to snag 74 acres on Longmont’s eastern border is a shock. It’s not a surprise. (No, it’s not a surprise–our board has been consistent in calling for towns and cities in this area to expand their master plans so they have adjacent borders, effectively leaving urban development to the municipalities and not Weld County. It was Longmont who decided not to participate in the Weld County Partnership group–a group dedicated to dealing with the problem of uncontrolled urban development by Weld County)

After all, Firestone’s the town whose leaders held school district money for ransom last year (the money was not the school district’s but was unethically extorted from new homeowners by bullying municipalities into serving as their middle men). The town caved and coughed up $186,000 in development fees (no, unethical impact fees) to the St. Vrain Valley School District after the district threatened to sue. Then town leaders threw a tantrum and decided to no longer collect $645 per house from developers (let’s be correct-homeowners) whose homes help overfill the schools. (again, unethical and possibly illegal extortion of money from new homeowners by trying to work around the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision that school districts cannot mandate impact fees).

Now Firestone’s up to new tricks. They’re working to crash Longmont’s eastern gates, even after Longmont and Boulder County spent millions preserving land east of Longmont. (Longmont and Boulder County has and has had the ability to buy whatever land it wants for a buffer. Firestone has never annexed any property whose property owners didn’t ask to be annexed. Testimony in front of Firestone’s Planning Commission and e-mails I’ve received from current property owners appear to make a case that Longmont has held its neighboring property owners hostage by not giving them a hearing–essentially “taking” their property to maintain a “free” buffer.)

Firestone made a plan to reach down Colo. Highway 119, almost to the Boulder County line, and annex the 74-acre Fairview Estates property. (Firestone began reevaluating its current master plan well before Firestone was aware of Fairview or LifeBridge Christian Church. Our reevaluation began when Weld County approved almost 4000 homes on our northern border. Firestone never “made a plan” to annex Fairview Estates-that comment is just a bold faced lie– They came to us and asked us to annex them-I’m not aware of anyone on this board who contacted anyone from Fairview Estates). Coincidentally, the Fairview property would make a terrific stepping stone if Firestone wanted to grab (Firestone has never “grabbed” anything whose owners didn’t ask to be “grabbed”) LifeBridge Christian Church’s Union development next door. LifeBridge, you’ll recall, walked away from Longmont after the Union annexation was set to go before voters. (LifeBridge was forced to “walk away” by the election of an anti-religious faction to the Longmont City Council.)

Establishing clear boundaries around municipalities is a useful practice. It helps give each an identity and preserves land on the periphery. (The only way you can ethically “preserve land” on your periphery is to buy it) Longmont attempted to create a buffer to the east. Firestone decided it didn’t care. (Firestone also thought there was a buffer around its town but Weld County‘s current policy eliminated that possibility. Firestone understands to create a buffer it will have to buy property or property rights. Longmont is naive if it thinks it can create “free” buffers in Weld County.)

That’s typical of the Firestone leaders’ Wild West approach to intergovernmental relations. (This is an interesting comment. It seems to echo Mr. Auer and his “Longmont First” slate of candidate’s ill informed and incorrect comments about intergovernmental relations. I guess this is a continuation of the T-C’s biennial attempt to influence Firestone’s elections by now trying to prop up and give legitimacy to Mr. Auer and his “Longmont First” slate of candidates.)

Does Firestone want a reputation for being a rogue town that bends over backwards to snatch land from its neighbors? (Very misleading T-C. Nobody is “snatching” anything. Frederick and Longmont have changed their master plans and annexed property outside their growth boundaries. Firestone is considering doing the same. You can’t “snatch” property that you don’t own. Longmont may think they “own” property outside their borders but I suspect the affected property owners think differently)

That uses development fees as a bargaining chip instead of using them to improve the schools that serve its children? (the school board is a governmental agency with the power to tax its residents. Instead of trying to work around your voters by trying to impose unethical impact fees, ask your voters for a tax increase. If you can’t justify it to the voters, you don’t deserve it.)

We hope Firestone residents will consider that question when they consider who should fill four open seats on the board on April 1. (The T-C’s attempt to affect Firestone’s election continues again this year–but of course they will try to make you believe they are an “unbiased” journalistic entity. A man, who I have never met, walked into my office this morning and was concerned about the T-C’s obvious bias in favor of Mr. Auer. I explained to him they are a private company and can do what they want. I also related how the Times-Call has decided they don’t want to print any editorials “they believe” are “personal” concerning a candidate-this only applies to the “Longmont First” candidates it appears.

Well, where have they been for the past 6 years? The only editorials I can remember the T-C printing concerning me and our town board are nothing but personal attacks-including the one I just read. Let’s review their words about this town board from the editorial I just read-snag, ransom, caved and coughed up, tantrum, tricks, crash, grab, Firestone decided it didn’t care, Wild West approach, rogue town, and snatch. )

So there you have it in one editorial. A Boulder County media outlet doing what they can to convince the voters in Firestone to allow a Boulder County school board along with the newly elected Longmont City Council, to run our town.
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Up next, further comments on the above statement, more reporting on this meeting, and Longmont City Council’s reaction.

Hesitate To Emulate

I know, and you know, there is a contingent here in Longmont that wants to be Boulder Jr. Some of these seem to feel Boulder can do no wrong and that they walk on water. We also have a councilmember who works for the Boulder Valley School District who tells us we shouldn’t speak ill (” smack?”) of our neighbor to the southwest. But if some of us are going to look up to this city and their ways, we must also acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them, and not repeat them.

Previously, I mentioned the Twin Peaks Mall, and the path that it is on, which is similar in some ways to what happened in Boulder. Are we going to follow that example and see a slow bleed, years of dormancy, and a resurrection that was long overdue? Or are we going to learn from Boulder’s mistakes and avoid losing years of sales tax revenue, along with an eyesore in a high visibility area?

Another somewhat similar scenario is developing on Longmont’s eastern boundary. The “no growth” or “slow growth” seems to be more of a Castle Longmont mentality. Instead of a moat of water and alligators, or burning oil, this wished-for version is untouched, undeveloped, open space. Boulder County even tried to take land from Weld County as open space (paid with Boulder County taxpayer money, but not technically IN Boulder County) to stop development and continue this hoped-for buffer.

This concept costs a lot of money. This is prime real estate on a heavily traveled highway between I-25 and Longmont. It also takes a lot of influence on Weld County, which Boulder and Longmont don’t seem to have. Longmont turned away a large development ( Lifebridge), preceded by public trashing of the present and future Super Walmarts, and the message was sent that Longmont is somewhat closed for business and has gone protectionist and isolationist.

The message was heard, and Firestone’s (or Mead’s or anyone else in Weld County) reaction is the consequence. ” You turn them away in a prime area? We’ll be more than happy to fill the void“, was basically the response. A “void” is exactly what some in Longmont wanted, at the expense of landowners in Weld County who sit on solid gold along Hwy 119.

Mission accomplished, Longmont could easily now be cut-off and isolated, but probably not in the way some had wished. How is this similar to Boulder? Think Broomfield. Think FlatIron Crossing.

There is much to like about Boulder, but it isn’t infallible in its decisions and policy making. Try as some may to emulate Boulder, there is a huge difference that shouldn’t be overlooked: Longmont can’t afford to make the same above mistakes Boulder made; we don’t have the finances, influence, or political capital to blunder on their level.

I’m hoping that in 6-7 years we aren’t looking at a boarded up, fenced-in mall, and booming financial activity just OUTSIDE our sales tax collecting grasp. All sectors of the city will suffer from the choices that bring us to that. The time to realize it and act is NOW. Those on council or committees (past and present) may be term-limited out by then, but some of us will never let people forget who brought us to that point.

Time to choose your legacy.