ARCHIVED  December 1, 1995

Metro-area communities creep into Weld County

Boulder County cities that sit on or close to the Weld County border are dealing with growing pains.
At issue for the cities of Broomfield, Erie and Longmont is finding where to expand their borders and how to create buffer zones to separate the communities.
Two cities, Broomfield and Erie, already straddle the border between Boulder and Weld counties.
Broomfield, with a population of 31,700, is in the most precarious situation because it has expanded into four counties. The city with 15,353 acres sits on the county lines of Boulder, Jefferson and Adams. More recently, Broomfield annexed 941.61 acres in Weld County.
“We are just finishing our new master plan,” said Arne Carlson, principal planner for Broomfield. “We modified our planning area, and we pulled back on some of the land we were going to annex near Erie because they had it in their plan to annex. It is proposed in our new master plan to have some land around the city for open space.”
Broomfield’s master plan would add 500 acres in Weld to the city of Broomfield if the city annexes all the land in its proposed planning area. Sprawling across four counties means Broomfield must deal with five school districts and four fire districts. The city decided not to develop the land in Weld as residential because it would add more school and fire districts to an already intricate system.
“Currently, this land is designated as agricultural use, but after the wards met, they decided they did not want residential land development in Weld,” Carlson said. RRThis would just apply to residential, not commercial growth. Residential growth (in Weld) would mean we would have to deal with two more school districts.”
Broomfield’s land in Weld sits north of Colorado Highway 7 on either side of Interstate 25. RRMost of our future development will be in Adams County,” Carlson said. RRWe can’t annex that much more in Boulder County because of the open-space land along Rock Creek Drainage Basin. We have a fair amount of land already annexed in Adams County. We are working on a 40- to 50-year development plan, and we really have enough land for that now.”
Some annexations are even more complicated than Broomfield’s. The City of Northglenn annexed 240 acres in Weld County in 1991 because it had a waste-water treatment plant on the land, which has no boundaries touching the city borders.
RRWe really made people angry when we annexed that land,” said Pat Breitenstein, senior planner for Northglenn. RRBut Broomfield, Westminster and Thornton were all annexing land in that area, and we thought our treatment plant would get annexed into one of their boundaries.
The cities along the Boulder-Weld corridor belong to the Southern Weld I-25 Corridor Group, which coordinates planning and development along the I-25 corridor.
The task force meetings have opened discussions for intergovernmental agreements to create corridors or buffer zones between cities.
When the cities first revealed their plans for expansion, many of the proposed boundaries overlapped each other, and it was clear they needed buffer zones.
Erie, with a population of 1,600, has worked out an intergovernmental agreement with Lafayette and is working on agreements with Broomfield and Dacono to designate areas for open space so the cities will not overlap.
RRErie has worked out a plan with Lafayette and Boulder County to create open space between Lafayette and Erie along the west side of U.S. Highway 287 and northwest side of County Line Road,” said Leon Wurl, town administrator for Erie.
Erie has about 2,500 acres that has been annexed but is not yet developed.
RRWe are positioning ourselves for growth, but the 2,500 acres sounds like a lot of land,” Wurl said. RRWe have only issued about 35 residential permits, and last year we issued 22 permits. We have noticed that growth is slowing down. We have no plans to annex more land, although we have two developers trying to annex some small parcels.”
Erie mayor Vic Smith agreed. RRWith the Boulder County side now settled, it is really very nice to know that we can plan accordingly,” he said.
RRWe need to coordinate our development. We don’t want to create an industrial strip along I-25. It takes the county and cities to sit down and talk so we won’t be slum lords, because we are all in this together.”
Longmont, the largest city along the Weld border with a population of just less than 60,000, is trying to halt expansion across the Weld border. Ironically, the expansion comes not from Longmont but from Weld County.
Longmont’s closest access to Weld is along Colorado Highway 119, which connects to I-25 at the interchange known as Del Camino.
Currently, Longmont has one piece of land in Weld annexed into the city in 1990 by McLane Western Inc., the food-distribution warehouse company at 2100 East Highway 119.
Now the city wants to create a buffer zone between Longmont and Weld but has encountered a few obstacles.
Weld County commissioners are updating the county’s comprehensive plan, with an eye toward rezoning the county land that butts up against Longmont. The 1,400 acres in question is designated agricultural use, but in November, the commissioners created a mixed-use conceptual designation.
RRThe land has not been rezoned,” said Dale Hall, chairman of the Weld County commissioners. RRThe MUD is a conceptual designation.” This area includes the Longmont Sanitation District.
Longmont is not taking the situation lightly, and city officials say the MUD area, which extends to the city’s borders, could add up to 40,000 people to the area bordering Longmont, adding to the city’s traffic problems and crowded schools.
RRWe have repeatedly, over and over again, asked for Weld to delay in putting any more mixed use on the map until they could see if they could support that growth or to give us time to see want we could do,” said Longmont mayor Leona Stoecker. RRTo put urban development in a rural area is just something you don’t do.”
Weld County has hired a consultant to study the area between Longmont and Del Camino.

Boulder County cities that sit on or close to the Weld County border are dealing with growing pains.
At issue for the cities of Broomfield, Erie and Longmont is finding where to expand their borders and how to create buffer zones to separate the communities.
Two cities, Broomfield and Erie, already straddle the border between Boulder and Weld counties.
Broomfield, with a population of 31,700, is in the most precarious situation because it has expanded into four counties. The city with 15,353 acres sits on the county lines of Boulder, Jefferson and Adams. More recently, Broomfield annexed 941.61 acres in…

Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood is editor and publisher of BizWest, a regional business journal covering Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties. Wood co-founded the Northern Colorado Business Report in 1995 and served as publisher of the Boulder County Business Report until the two publications were merged to form BizWest in 2014. From 1990 to 1995, Wood served as reporter and managing editor of the Denver Business Journal. He is a Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. He has won numerous awards from the Colorado Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Alliance of Area Business Publishers.
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