Longmont council rejects development moratorium

LONGMONT —  There will not be a pause in the acceptance or review of new development applications while Longmont officials await an update of the way the city reviews large development projects.

There was concern among some in the local business and economic-development community that Longmont was considering adopting a moratorium on processing applications while the city’s new Sustainable Evaluation System is being drafted.

The SES, which could be similar to a system used in Fort Collins, would emphasize adherence with Longmont’s “Triple Bottom Line” philosophy of “economic vitality, environmental stewardship and social equity,” according to city documents.

“Economic vitality focuses on the local business community, jobs and workforce, infrastructure and innovation, revenue, and economic resilience. environmental stewardship focuses on climate change, resource conservation, ecological health, water and air quality, waste management, and land use. Social equity focuses on the community benefits and quality of life including affordable housing, access to services and amenities, prosperity, health and wellness, and equity and inclusion,” the documents said.

The Longmont City Council has placed an Aug. 1 deadline on city staff to bring forward details on specifically how the system would work.

There was discussion at a council meeting earlier this month about the potential to pause new development review until the SES is in place.

Economic-development leaders argued that a project-review moratorium would hurt local businesses and could cause builders to abandon planned projects.

“There was never the intent that there would be a moratorium,” Councilman Tim Waters said in reference to some confusion about council’s desire to temporarily put a pin in development applications. But he did acknowledge that in the past he has suggested a “time-out” from new development reviews.

During a discussion held during the Longmont City Council’s June 11 meeting, “Waters clarified that his intent when he made the motion to potentially pause development was not to shut down development but rather to make sure Council cleared the decks in order to allow time for the SES model to get done on time,” according to minutes from that meeting, which were approved by council Tuesday.

Longmont City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a motion to further clarify that the city would not halt development reviews.

“This council as of right now is not going to take action on a moratorium,” Mayor Brian Bagley said.

Longmont Economic Development Partnership CEO Jessica Erickson expressed relief about the council’s move away from a moratorium, but said she had concerns that the SES could put up unnecessary barriers for developers.

“I have spoken with a number of our members who are concerned with what is in that draft,” she said,

Erickson offered the Longmont EDP’s guidance should city leaders want input from the economic-development community on ways to develop review standards that  won’t have “a detrimental effect on future development and investment in our community.”

The hope, she said, is for the city and developers to create a process that allows “Longmont to continue to grow and prosper in a sustainable way.”

Key issues that city staff must grapple with in drafting the SES include how certain aspects of projects are weighted and scored — Is environmental sustainability equally as important and economic considerations? More important? — which projects would be appropriate for review and how the system will interact with Longmont’s existing city code and development review processes.

“There’s really a question of how you apply this [SES] that hasn’t been defined yet,” Councilwoman Marcia Martin said.

LONGMONT —  There will not be a pause in the acceptance or review of new development applications while Longmont officials await an update of the way the city reviews large development projects.

There was concern among some in the local business and economic-development community that Longmont was considering adopting a moratorium on processing applications while the city’s new Sustainable Evaluation System is being drafted.

The SES, which could be similar to a system used in Fort Collins, would emphasize adherence with Longmont’s “Triple Bottom Line” philosophy of “economic vitality, environmental stewardship and social equity,” according to city documents.

“Economic vitality focuses on the local business community, jobs and workforce, infrastructure and innovation, revenue, and economic resilience. environmental stewardship focuses on climate change, resource conservation, ecological health, water and air quality, waste management, and land use. Social equity focuses on the community benefits and quality of life including affordable housing, access to services and amenities, prosperity, health and wellness, and equity and inclusion,” the documents said.

The Longmont City Council has placed an Aug. 1 deadline on city staff to bring forward details on specifically how the system would work.

There was discussion at a council meeting earlier this month about the potential to pause new development review until the SES is in place.

Economic-development leaders argued that a project-review moratorium would hurt local businesses and could cause builders to abandon planned projects.

“There was never the intent that there would be a moratorium,” Councilman Tim Waters said in reference to some confusion about council’s desire to temporarily…