Montrose, CO — City Councilors met for a work session Tuesday morning, April 18, to meet a handful of new employees and discuss a number of topics including an amendment to the Municipal Code, private activity bonds, a water supply outlook for 2022, and a city right-of-way vacation.
Councilors Barbara Bynum, Doug Glaspell, Dave Frank, David Reed, and Anthony Russo met in City Council Chambers along with city staff. They were also joined by Councilor-elect Ed Ulibarri.
The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
Watch the meeting here.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW CITY EMPLOYEES
City Councilors were introduced to five new city employees. Bill Womack and Bob Winters both joined the city as parks and special projects workers. Mike Shelton was hired as a facilities and maintenance technician, and Elizabeth Teeter and Christopher Roberston both were hired as part-time Animal Shelter technicians.
AMENDMENT OF MONTROSE MUNICIPAL CODE SECTION 4.4.24 PLANNED DEVELOPMENT
City Councilors were briefed about the council's consideration of amendments to the City of Montrose Municipal Code that will facilitate the amendment of previously approved Planned Development (PD) plans.
Ann Morgenthaler, deputy city manager, said the City of Montrose Municipal Code and past practice have allowed amendments of previously approved PD plans in a manner that is consistent with Colorado State Statutes, requiring the consent of all property owners within the prior-established PD area. In many cases, PD plan areas have not been fully developed since the time of their approval, and developer, market, and community needs and desires have changed. Obtaining the consent of all property owners within an established PD plan area for a proposed amendment is impractical and a barrier to implementing development that will better suit developer, market, and community needs.
The proposed amendment specifies:
• If only a portion of a PD plan area is amended, then only the consent of the property owners within such portion of the PD plan area will be required.
• When public notice of an amendment to a PD plan area is required, it will be sent to all owners within the prior-approved PD plan area, in addition to being provided to property owners within 100 feet of the proposed amended PD plan area.
• The current city requirement that the creation of a new PD plan area requires the consent of all property owners within the proposed PD plan area.
The amendments, which are with the City of Montrose’s rights as a Home Rule Municipality, will provide more flexibility regarding required consent for PDs than is provided by state statute. Other municipalities have adopted similar regulations with respect to amendments of PD plans. City staff worked with outside land use legal counsel on this amendment. If Council desires to proceed with this amendment, city staff will present an ordinance for first reading at the May 3 City Council meeting.
PRIVATE ACTIVITY BOND ALLOCATION TO CHFA
City Councilors were briefed about the city’s plan to assign about $1.1 million dollars in Private Activity Bonds (PAB) to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) for local housing projects.
Citizen Engagement Specialist Ross Valdez said the City of Montrose has assigned the city’s allocation of PAB to CHFA, and CHFA then in turn puts the PAB to use throughout the community.
The IRS allocates a per capita bonding authority annually for housing to each state, also known as PAB Volume Capacity or “Cap”. Colorado, in turn, allocates this authority to statewide authorities and local governments. In 2021 the allocation for the City of Montrose was $1,091,612. In 2022, the allocation for the City of Montrose is $1,125,667.
The City of Montrose has not desired to issue bonds directly, as there is risk and administrative burden in doing so. Allocating the PAB directly to CHFA allows the community to benefit from the PAB allocation without the city directly issuing bonds. In 2020, CHFA worked with the City of Montrose to use its PAB allocation to support Steele Properties, LLC’s rehabilitation of San Juan Apartments, which serves senior (62+ years old) Section 8 and residents with disabilities. In 2021, CHFA funded 20 loans in their single-family tax-exempt program, First Step, for a total of $5.3 million in the City of Montrose. The median loan amount was $270,755 and the median gross annual income was $73,770.
City staff recommends that City Council consider assigning the PAB allocation to CHFA again this year and requests that CHFA use the PAB to support first-time homeownership investment, a multifamily affordable housing project, and/or CHFA’s FirstStep homeownership program. If the City Council allocates PAB to CHFA, CHFA will ensure that the funding is used within the City of Montrose to benefit our community.
2022 WATER SUPPLY OUTLOOK
City Councilors were presented with a 2022 water supply outlook focusing on reservoirs in the region.
City Engineer Scott Murphy said the City of Montrose plays a role in water management on the Western Slope. He said the Ridgway Reservoir has a capacity of 82,000 acre-feet of water and the City of Montrose has an allocation of 10,000 acre-feet from the reservoir. Murphy said the City of Montrose uses about 5,000 acre-feet of its allocation from the reservoir. Ridgway Reservoir is expected to fill this year.
Murphy said Blue Mesa Reservoir peaked at about 50% capacity in 2021 and bottomed out at 25% capacity at its lowest point. Forecasters say the reservoir will peak at about 47% this year.
Because Blue Mesa is so low, Murphy said federal regulators will use more water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir this year rather than Blue Mesa to help maintain critical capacity at Lake Powell.
Murphy said forecasts “don’t look good,” and more efforts for conservation are likely to be pushed this year moving forward. Murphy said the City of Montrose is looking at ways of conserving water and keeping overall consumption down.
Utilities Manager David Bries said the city has software that allows residents to monitor their household water consumption in real-time. The city will be doing more public education this year to help people make water-wise decisions.
Murphy said the city’s emergency water supply at Cerro Reservoir will be full this year.
JUSTICE CENTER RIGHT OF WAY VACATION
City Councilors were briefed about a proposed vacation of a city right-of-way at the Montrose Justice Center on Grand Avenue.
According to Scott Murphy, a small portion of city-owned land is located next to the property line at the Justice Center. Murphy said the Justice Center is looking at future plans and wanted to know if the city would ever need the land. Murphy said the city will maintain a utility easement in the area but will vacate the small portion of land to the Justice Center.
GENERAL CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION
Scott Murphy said the city is continuing to patch portions of Townsend Avenue following utility repairs. Murphy said the Colorado Department of Transportation will begin its months-long project to resurface both directions of Townsend Avenue starting Sunday evening, May 15.
All City Council meetings are recorded and made available online via 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 the 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 and on-demand through the city’s Public Meetings Portal.