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Posted on: April 4, 2023

Blog: CITY COUNCIL WORK SESSION: Monday, April 3, 2023

Montrose, CO — City Councilors met for a work session Monday morning, April 3, to view a time capsule to be inserted within the walls of the Public Safety Complex and hear about a number of ongoing city projects. 

Councilors Barbara Bynum, Mayor Dave Frank, Doug Glaspell, and Ed Ulibarri met in the Community Room at the Montrose Public Safety Complex along with city staff. Councilor David Reed attended online. 

The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting. 

Watch the meeting here.

PUBLIC SAFETY COMPLEX TIME CAPSULE CEREMONY

Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall told councilors that a time capsule was ready to be inserted into the walls of the Public Safety Complex (PSC). 

In completing the construction of the PSC in 2022, one element that was added to the building’s design was a time capsule to be sealed within the large Community Room on the building’s north side. 

Chief Hall, along with Deputy Police Department Chiefs Tim Cox and Matt Smith, worked with City Council and department staff to compile a large variety of items to be placed within the capsule that reference present-day life and symbolize the department’s commitment to public safety throughout the Montrose community. 

Some items placed in the capsule included a department badge, a uniform patch, present-day department personnel photos, newspaper clippings, various other pictures, digital media containing videos of the official opening of the MPSC in 2022, and letters from Mayor Dave Frank and Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall along with a picture of the department’s dog Apple. Other department personnel were also given the opportunity to place small items within the capsule. 

MUNICIPAL COURT ANNUAL REPORT

Municipal Court Judge Charles Greenacre and newly appointed Judge Erin Maxwell delivered the court’s annual report to the council. 

Greenacre said court staff implemented the following improvements in 2022:

  • Appointed Bo Nerlin as an alternate judge to provide coverage when the Municipal Court judge is not available.
  • Continued training office staff including programs offered by the Colorado Municipal Judges Association and CAMCA (Colorado Association for Municipal Court Administration) as well as internal training programs.
  • Reviewed and revised all Court forms, office procedures, and administrative orders to ensure compliance with statutes, rules of procedure, and ordinances and to increase efficiency.
  • Downloaded all Administrative Orders to the online City of Montrose Regulations Manual to allow for public access.
  • Established a comprehensive operation manual.
  • Increased the efficient use of the Court’s case management system (FullCourt) and added a module that will allow for digitally storing documents.
  • Updated the court-appointed counsel list and procedures for appointing counsel for indigent parties.

WHAT LIES AHEAD IN 2023

Judge Greenacre is retiring effective April 6, 2023. In his place, the Montrose Municipal Court welcomes the Honorable Erin Maxwell as the presiding judge. Judge Maxwell is originally from the panhandle of Oklahoma and made Montrose her home in 2020. She enjoys the abundant outdoor activities here and values the people and pace of the Western Slope. Judge Maxwell is eager to continue the forward progress of the Court and is honored to be joining the City of Montrose team.

2023 GOALS

  • Updating the Court’s website, making it more accessible and user-friendly.
  • Increasing education and communication with the public regarding the role of the Municipal Court.
  • Connecting offenders with community resources for Mental Health and Drug Treatment.
  • Expanding participation in the Teen Court Program.
  • Exploring sentencing alternatives for adult and juvenile offenders.
  • Adding a module that will allow digital citations to be downloaded directly to FullCourt.

2023 PAVEMENT MARKING CONTRACT AWARD RECOMMENDATION 

City Councilors were presented with a contract award recommendation for Stripe a Lot LLC of Montrose in the amount of $200,000 for the service of applying pavement markings to the streets within the City of Montrose.

Public Works Manager Jim Schied said the city’s Street Division is committed to following all rules and regulations in the Federal Highway Administration’s Uniform Traffic Control Codes. In-house operations are geared towards meeting signage, barricade, object marker, and traffic control regulations, but assistance is needed in meeting all pavement and curb marking regulations. This professional service will provide traffic symbol placement as well as long-line pavement painting. The contractor assists by striping all city streets that require striping at least once per year and painting all crosswalks, stop bars, arrows, or other regulatory markings twice a year or as directed by the Street Division’s superintendent. 

Scheid said the contractor will apply pre-formed thermoplastic symbols at all roundabouts and other high-traffic areas such as Main Street. This product is specific to markings in high-traffic areas because they last significantly longer than paint, which means lower maintenance costs and fewer interruptions for restriping. This type of application allows for work to be completed at least once every 4 years but can be applied as needed.

Stripe a Lot has been a top performer for many years with the City of Montrose. The contractor holds many other professional references from local municipalities and has provided additional bid tabs from other municipalities as a reference. This is extremely helpful for staff when comparing proposed rates to what other municipalities are paying.

The scope of work for pavement marking in 2023 is very similar to 2022 with the exception of two additional city-owned public parking lots and transitioning to utilizing a higher-performing epoxy paint for long-line striping. The use of this paint will be expanded to more high-traffic areas after seeing great results from testing conducted in 2022.

COLLATERAL SUBSTITUTION ORDINANCE

City Councilors were presented with a plan to release historic City Hall as collateral and replace it with the city’s Animal Shelter and the Brown Center. 

In the late 1990s the city borrowed $10 million for use in a variety of improvements throughout the city including the construction of the Montrose Pavilion. The city used historic City Hall as collateral in that loan. The city is selling City Hall to be transformed into a hotel and educational facility for Colorado Mesa University. The city is proposing to replace City Hall with the city’s Animal Shelter and the Brown Center, located on the city’s northern side, as collateral in this loan. 

To complete the substitution of other city property for the City Hall building under this lease-purchase financing, the City Council will need to pass an ordinance at a future City Council meeting. 

SOUTH 3RD PLAZA CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT AWARD AND RIGHT OF WAY VACATION

City Councilors were presented with a construction contract and a proposal to close a portion of South 3rd Street to make way for the South 3rd Plaza Project. 

The council will consider the approval of $699,528 in expenditures for the construction of the South 3rd Plaza Project, which includes the award of a construction contract to Skip Huston Construction in the amount of $659,528 and a survey/engineering support contract to Del-Mont Consultants in the amount of $40,000.

City Engineer Scott Murphy said the City of Montrose and Colorado Mesa University (CMU) have collectively been working over the years to expand the CMU campus and improve the campus experience within downtown Montrose. As a continuation of this effort, CMU is working on a remodel of Cascade Hall (336 South 3rd Street) and the City of Montrose has been planning to perform street and sidewalk maintenance/improvements on South 3rd Street. These overlapping projects have created an opportunity to improve South 3rd Street to meet the long-term needs of both entities. To that end, this joint City/CMU project will convert a portion of South 3rd Street into a parking lot with an extension of the existing CMU plaza.

Project elements include:

  1. Partial closure and vacation of South 3rd Street. The project would extend the existing plaza alongside the library to include the area in front of Cascade Hall. 
  2. Pedestrian Plaza. The pedestrian plaza’s long-range plan includes gathering/seating areas, new landscaping and irrigation, lighted seat walls, a bike rack, new lighting, benches, picnic tables/chairs, and a flagpole to be used by the summer police academy. Due to budget constraints, some of these elements will be constructed at a later date.
  3. Conversion of South 3rd and CMU Parcel to Parking Lots. The remaining area of South 3rd Street and the vacant lot owned by CMU west of Cascade Hall are planned to be converted to public parking lots. Even when accounting for parking losses along the northern side of Cascade Hall, this will result in a net increase of eight parking spaces over what is currently available within the project area.

Project Bidding and Expenditures

Construction of the South 3rd Plaza Project was put out for bid on February 3 and one bid was publicly received on March 8, 2023, by Skip Huston Construction.

Project Schedule and Traffic Control

In anticipation of the plaza project, the city’s water department is working to replace an aged waterline along the northern side of South 3rd Street. Once this work is complete, the contractor will begin construction of the plaza and parking lot project. The bulk of construction is scheduled to be completed and open for use by mid-August before CMU’s fall semester. Some longer lead items (such as furniture and lighting) are scheduled to be completed by the end of October.

The project area will be closed to through traffic throughout the construction project. Access to local residences and businesses will be maintained at all times throughout construction.

OTTER ROAD RIGHT-OF-WAY DEDICATION 

City Councilors were presented with a proposal to approve the Otter Road right-of-way dedication, an official act of the City of Montrose Plat.

City Engineer Scott Murphy said the City Council recently passed The Grove Preliminary Subdivision Plat at their March 21, 2023, regular meeting. 

The developer of The Grove Subdivision is getting ready to start infrastructure construction, but before that can begin, Otter Road must be dedicated as city right of way, as Otter Road is providing primary access to the initial phase of the proposed subdivision. With this proposed official act of the city, Otter Road will be extended approximately 680 feet to accommodate access to The Grove Subdivision.

Typically, all rights of way would be dedicated by the developer at the time of subdivision, however, because the area that encompasses Otter Road is situated on a separate parcel with a separate owner, an official act of the city is required for right-of-way dedication. The area of Otter Road that is being dedicated is currently owned by Sunshine of Montrose, Inc. 

The plat map for the dedication has been reviewed and approved by staff, and the property owner, Sunshine of Montrose, Inc., has been in contact with city staff and has agreed to sign the right-of-way dedication plat. Once approved, the developer can start infrastructure construction.

LAND USE CODE CONSOLIDATION

City Councilors were presented with a proposal to make changes to the city’s land use code.

Planning Manager Jace Hochwalt and City Engineer Scott Murphy spoke at length Monday about the suggested revisions. 

City staff and Plan Tools LLC have undertaken a major land use code update process in order to consolidate the City of Montrose’s existing land use code into one title within the Montrose Municipal Code, thereby eliminating redundancies and modernizing the code for clarity and readability. Planning and land use regulations are currently dispersed throughout several areas of the Montrose Municipal Code and Montrose Regulations Manual. While the bulk of these land use and planning topics, such as zoning regulations and subdivision standards, are housed within Title 4 (Building Regulations), there are also several sections within Title 4 (Land Use and Building Regulations) of the Montrose Regulations Manual, such as annexation policy and site development standards. 

A list of titles, chapters, and sections from the Montrose Municipal Code and Montrose Regulations Manual are being consolidated by being struck through in their current respective areas and incorporated into the newly proposed title.

Having different land use sections scattered throughout the Municipal Code and Regulations Manual creates confusion and redundancy for developers trying to understand code requirements for their proposals. It can also create confusion at a staff level when redundancies exist and there is a lack of clear consistency. This consolidation effort will eliminate the need to jump from different titles in the existing Municipal Code as well as the Regulations Manual. The consolidation process will bring all land use topics under a new title, which is proposed to be Title 11.

For transparency and to clearly reflect what is being added and removed, city staff has created a Redlined Code Update Draft and a Clean Code Update Draft. These documents, along with a description of the project from the consultant, Plan Tools, LLC, can also be found at https://www.plan-tools.com/Community/Home.asp within the Project Portal.

Legal Compliance

This code consolidation process revealed some areas of the code that are due for updates based on federal and/or state laws. One example of this is the federal Fair Housing Act, which requires that local governments be prepared to make reasonable accommodations in order to permit housing for certain protected individuals. 

In addition, group homes, which are not clearly defined in the current code, are now clearly defined in the proposed code update to ensure legal compliance with the Federal Housing Act. The code update proposes to allow group homes of up to eight handicapped or disabled residents to locate in a zoning district that allows for single-family residential uses. 

Any more than eight residents and a group home would require a Conditional Use Permit. Another amendment related to legal compliance is specific to wireless communications and cell towers, more specifically related to federal review timelines and standards. Other code sections have been updated for legal clarity, albeit minor and non-substantive in nature.

GENERAL CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION

The City Council has determined to draft a resolution officially opposing SB23-213. According to the Colorado Municipal League, SB23-213 represents the most sweeping attempt in recent Colorado history to remove local control and home rule authority from elected leaders, professional planning staff, and the people of Colorado. The bill dramatically expands state authority by imposing top-down zoning and land use standards on municipalities and places those decisions into the hands of developer interests and unelected third parties. SB23-213 does not recognize that local governments are best suited to address the needs of their communities, and it flies in the face of local government efforts to solve the affordable housing crisis.

•••

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.

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