Montrose, CO — City Councilors met for a work session Monday morning, July 31, to learn about a new grant to secure local housing, a new roundabout set for construction in 2024 and 2025, and new campaign finance laws for municipal elections.
Mayor Barbara Bynum and councilors Dave Frank, Doug Glaspell, and Ed Ulibarri met in the City Council Chambers at the Elks Civic Building along with city staff. Councilor David Reed attended via the Zoom platform.
The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
Watch the meeting here.
SUNSHINE PEAK APARTMENTS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT APPLICATION
City Councilors were presented with a proposal that would allow staff to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) on behalf of the Montrose County Housing Authority.
The purpose of this grant application is to secure funding to acquire the Sunshine Peak Apartments located at 748 Cedar Creek Avenue in the City of Montrose.
City Grant Coordinator Michelle Wingfield said the Montrose County Housing Authority seeks to acquire the Sunshine Peak Apartments from Sunshine Peak Apartment Homes, LLC to prevent the loss of this property as an affordable housing asset in the community. The City of Montrose aims to secure a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to provide sub-grant funding to the Montrose County Housing Authority for this acquisition. The request is for $2,600,000 in grant funds to acquire Phase 1 of the Sunshine Peak Apartments, which comprises 49 residential units.
The CDBG program, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides funding to local governments to address a wide range of community development needs, including affordable housing initiatives. By leveraging this grant opportunity, the City of Montrose can support the Montrose County Housing Authority's efforts to preserve and expand affordable housing options in the community. By acquiring the property, the Housing Authority will be able to exercise greater control over the long-term affordability and maintenance of the housing units.
The total project costs are estimated at $3,850,000, inclusive of acquisition costs, soft costs, and critical repairs. The Montrose County Housing Authority is seeking a CDBG grant in the amount of $2,600,000, which would cover the acquisition. The remaining project costs will be covered by the Montrose County Housing Authority through debt servicing. No matching funds are required for this grant.
WOODGATE/EAST OAK GROVE ROUNDABOUT AND BACKAGE ROAD DESIGN CONTRACT AWARD
City Councilors were presented for consideration a professional services contract to Felsburg, Holt, and Ullevig in the amount of $215,211.40 for the completion of design studies and civil design associated with the Woodgate/East Oak Grove Roundabout and Backage Road Project.
City Engineer Scott Murphy said the City of Montrose recently designed and constructed a realignment of Woodgate Road to join up directly with East Oak Grove Road (completed in 2022) in response to increasing traffic congestion in the area and as envisioned in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The traffic studies for the realignment project envisioned that the new intersection of Woodgate and East Oak Grove Roads (“WEOG”) would ultimately be constructed as a roundabout. However, the city was unable to construct the roundabout concurrent with the realignment project due to a lack of necessary rights of way on the northern side of East Oak Grove Road as well as schedule and budget limitations that existed at the time of the realignment project.
Since the completion of the Woodgate Realignment Project, property ownership on the northern side of East Oak Grove Road has changed. The new owners have expressed an interest in partnering to see the roundabout built, intend to annex/develop the surrounding area, and are working to redevelop existing commercial properties towards the northwest (Penn Mall Area). Furthermore, the developers have been working with All Points Transit, APT, to situate their new transit center immediately northeast of the roundabout. APT has spent the last several years working to secure a suitable site for their new transit center facility and considers this area an ideal location for their operations given its central location and proximity to amenities. Construction of the transit center is tentatively scheduled to begin in late 2024.
In addition to the roundabout project element, the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Townsend Avenue Access Control Plan both call for a roadway connection between East Oak Grove and Niagara Roads, east of Townsend Avenue. The intent of this connection is to provide a means for the area’s commercial and residential traffic to access a traffic signal and avoid the need to turn left onto Townsend Avenue at uncontrolled intersections.
As part of a public/private partnership to secure the necessary rights of way and construct the WEOG roundabout and southern reach of the Woodgate backage road, the city entered into a development agreement with the adjacent landowners on July 18, 2023. It should be noted that the property owners immediately north of this project area have also expressed interest in extending the Woodgate backage road and the city is currently working with them to formally secure additional right of way up to Encanto Place.
Project design is proposed to be completed by June of 2024 in anticipation of project construction between December 2024 and July 2025.
CABLE FRANCHISE AGREEMENT WITH SPECTRUM PACIFIC WEST LLC
The City Council was presented with a new franchise agreement with Spectrum Pacific West, LLC, an indirect subsidiary of Charter Communications, Inc., for continued service within the city limits of Montrose.
City Attorney Ben Morris, along with outside counsel, said city staff have been in negotiations with Spectrum to use the public rights-of-way to provide cable television services in the City of Montrose. This agreement does not include phone and internet services.
The last agreement between the City of Montrose and Charter was signed in 2010 for a term of 10 years, expiring in 2020. The city and Charter have previously agreed to continue operating under the existing franchise on a month-to-month basis until a new franchise is adopted.
The new franchise agreement will require approval by ordinance.
CITY CHARTER REVIEW COMMITTEE UPDATE
The City Council was presented with some suggested changes to the current City Charter regarding franchise agreements.
City Attorney Ben Morris said the city is updating language to the City’s Charter as it pertains to franchise agreements. Over the decades the practice of municipalities using franchise agreements has changed significantly. This is due to federal and state law changes and court cases, some in Colorado, that have impacted municipalities and their negotiations with cable companies. For example, in the past, changes in franchise agreements required a public vote, but now the council can approve new agreements via a city ordinance.
Morris said the charter review committee will be meeting throughout the rest of 2023 to review potential changes that will go before the voting public in April 2024. `
NEW CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS FOR MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
City Councilors were presented with an update regarding new municipal election campaign finance laws set to take effect on January 1, 2024.
City Clerk Lisa DelPiccolo and City Attorney Ben Morris said Colorado House Bill 23-1245 becomes effective January 1, 2024, amending campaign finance laws for municipal elections moving forward. The new laws include: Aggregate Contribution Limits: The bill caps aggregate contributions from any one person or political party at $400, and caps aggregate contributions from small donor committees at $4,000.
Reporting Requirements: For municipalities with populations over 1,000, candidates are now required to file contribution and expenditure reports 60, 30, and 15 days before an election, as well as 30 days after. Annual reports are also required for committees that remain active. Previously, candidates were required to file 21 days before the election, the Friday prior to Election Day, and 30 days after the election. Annual reports were also required for committees that remain active.
Retention Requirements: Reports must be kept for 10 years from the date of filing and for 6 years after a successful candidate leaves office.
Home rule municipalities can operate under the existing statutes, set their own policies and procedures, or opt to have no requirements. It is important to note that under current statutes, complaints are filed with the municipal clerk who determines whether the complaint has merit. CML recommends adoption of a formal violation complaint process. In order to formalize the city’s processes before the 2024 election process begins, the City Council was asked to provide direction on the issue.
City Councilors then asked the City Attorney to draft language that would allow the City of Montrose to set its own rules as to campaign finance laws.
GENERAL CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION
Starting on July 14, before the start of the City Council’s next work session, the public is invited to submit questions or interact with the council before the start of work sessions. More information will be released once it becomes available.
Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall said the Police Department is offering small grants to businesses that have been victims of crime. For more information visit www.CityofMontrose.org/trap.
City Engineer Scott Murphy said 6700 Road utility and stormwater improvements are ongoing and paving is expected to begin on August 9.
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.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.