Montrose, CO — City Councilors met online for a virtual work session Monday morning, June 1, to get an update on proposed zoning of a subdivision located on the southern end of the city a restaurant voucher program and several updates from city staff. Councilors Roy Anderson, Dave Bowman, Barbara Bynum, Dave Frank, and Doug Glaspell met for about one hour, 19 minutes on Zoom, along with city staff. The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
Watch the meeting here.
ESTATES AT STONE RIDGE REZONE REQUEST
The rezone request is a proposal to rezone lots 1‐10, 13, 15‐28, and 36‐56 within the Estates at Stone Ridge Subdivision on Ridgeline Dr, Woodford Ave, and Keller Ct from R‐2 low-density district to R‐3 medium-density district.
The owner, David Coker, would like to rezone these lots to be consistent with the surrounding lots in this subdivision and allow for both single-family homes and duplexes, which are both uses by right in the R‐3 zoning district.
Councilors debated the request and the zoning ordinance will go before the council for a formal first-reading vote on June 16.
DISCUSSION OF RESTAURANT VOUCHER PROGRAM
City Councilors and staff discussed an initiative to help residents connect with local restaurants through a voucher program with a goal of keeping people fed during ongoing hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assistant City Manager Ann Morgenthaler said city staff was researching programs other municipalities have created that allocate funding from their budgets to help restaurants stay open while filling gaps in local food assistance programs.
Morgenthaler said the voucher program could help families in need to receive meals while supporting local restaurants as they continue to reopen from state-mandated closures and as unemployment numbers continue to rise.
“It can act in a way to give a meal to somebody, a family that really needs it," Morgenthaler said, adding that the Montrose Community Foundation already has a program in place helping front-line workers and essential staff members, from grocery store employees to people working at nursing homes, to get any assistance they may need.
Morgenthaler said the city could create a new program altogether or commit funds to build upon the Community Foundation’s efforts to possibly expand the reach of their program.
Councilor Dave Frank, who presently sits on the board of the Montrose Community Foundation, said the foundation has expressed a willingness to expand their program to incorporate residents who are in need, out of work and do not qualify for traditional food assistance programs, and are not on the front line of the pandemic.
Frank said duplication of effort creates unintentional gaps that could hinder the overall effectiveness of overlapping programs.
“I would love for us to coordinate and not reinvent the wheel, but coordinate with the Community Foundation on a program that’s already in place,” Frank said.
Other city councilors were in support of working to contribute to the Montrose Community Foundation and their program moving forward. City Manager Bill Bell said the city has disbursed over $100,000 to local businesses from a $300,000 fund that was created during the initial onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $300,000 fund was composed of budgeted money for tourism promotion of the Montrose area and money left over from the Downtown Development Authority, DDA, which was disbanded in 2019.
Bell said the city could look to use money from the fund to bolster the Community Foundation’s efforts to provide food assistance to the neediest residents.
Councilors debated whether providing individual meals or grocery vouchers was a better option. The council also considered whether a $50 restaurant voucher would be best or a $50 gift card to local grocery stores.
Frank said it would be a good idea to approach the Community Foundation to see if areas of their programs can be expanded or if new options could be provided with the voucher program.
Bethany Maher, the city’s community engagement specialist, said seven or eight local restaurants have signed up to participate in a voucher program so far while the city works to attract more community partners.
Mayor Barbara Bynum said she prefers a local restaurant voucher so local businesses are supported while providing meal assistance to local families.
“We need to recognize that it’s about supporting local business, local restaurants. I think that’s important,” Bynum said.
Bell said the city is continuing to help local businesses where it can and has waved fees that allow restaurants to modify their liquor licenses to provide alcohol outside their normal seating areas.
GENERAL CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION
Council and staff discussed what possible 4th of July celebrations could happen in Montrose while COVID-19 social distancing measures are in place. Assistant City Manager Ann Morgenthaler said city staff is continuing to brainstorm ideas and that more information would be released once it’s finalized.
Finance Director Shani Wittenberg said the tax revenue collection report from April shows a 3 to 4 percent decline due to shutdowns and closures resulting from COVID-19. Year to date the city is looking to be up one percent in the first quarter of 2020. Wittenberg reported that strong sales at local grocery stores in March helped keep sales tax revenues from falling significantly.
The full sales and use tax report from April will be presented at the June 16 regular City Council meeting.
Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall said the department has received its new body-worn cameras and is in the process of training officers to use the cameras while creating department policies with regard to their use.
Chief Hall said the cameras could be deployed later this month.
“I think they are going to enhance our accountability, our credibility in ways we could have never imagined,” Hall said. “I think body-worn cameras here in Montrose are a necessity.”
Monday’s work session was concluded with the council and staff preparing for a special work session Tuesday, June 2, to discuss big-picture items with regard to the 2021 budget. The council normally holds a budget retreat each May to look at the coming year’s budget. That retreat was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All City Council meetings are recorded and made available online via on the city’s website and cable channels 191 for Charter subscribers and 970 for Elevate subscribers. Replays of council meetings are also broadcast at 6 p.m. on the same channels on days that council is not in session.
In addition, each regular meeting is archived on the City of Montrose’s YouTube channel.
Residents can watch all regular City Council meetings and work sessions live through the city’s website at CityOfMontrose.org/Video.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.