City Council approves new Municipal Court probation option

Samantha Ye

A probation option for the Fort Collins Municipal Court was added to the City Code Tuesday night, one of several actions approved by a miniaturized City Council. With only four members, Council also voted unanimously to both buy another parcel of land for the City affordable housing Land Bank and appropriate a $70,660 grant to support Club Outdoors.

Probation sentencing option for Municipal Court offenses

For those charged with non-traffic Municipal Court level offenses, probation can now be granted as an alternative sentencing option to fines or jail time. The hope is to reduce recidivism rates and help individuals work out any underlying problems leading to the offense, according to Patty Netherton, Municipal Court administrator.


Judges can sentence people with up to two years of probation with requirements to undergo medical or psychiatric treatment, participate in restorative justice, participate in drug treatment or meet a number of other conditions listed in the amended ordinance. Probation can still impose fines and court fees on the defendant.

Other than traffic violations, the City Court deals with:
1. Civil infractions, such as code noncompliance.
2. Petty offenses, such as smoking in banned zones. Can carry a fine of up to $500 but not jail time.
3. Municipal misdemeanors, such as indecent exposure or theft of items under $1,000. Can carry a fine of $2,915, six months in jail or both.

Earlier this year, Council allocated about $66,000 in the budget for a new probation officer, who has now been hired. 

Certain groups of people have been “slipping through the cracks” of the broader sentencing options, Netherton said. Those options don’t address underlying issues, such as hoarding or substance abuse.

For repeat offenders, professional probation supervision would give the court a way to reach into a person’s life and move them toward resources, Netherton said.

“If we can at least craft a sentence that gives them a better chance when they’re done with their time to support being better situated to deal with their problems and come back into the community and beat their issue, then I think that’s a win for the community,” Netherton said. 

North College Avenue land purchased for affordable housing

Council approved funding for the purchase of a 5 acre plot of land west of North College Avenue to add to the City’s affordable housing Land Bank program. 

The anticipated price is no more than $1.3 million or $5.85 per square foot. 

The outside of the Lyric Theater
The new parcel of land added to the affordable housing Land Bank is located at 1475 N. College Ave., several blocks north of The Lyric movie theater. (Josh Schroeder | Collegian)

Through the Land Bank program, the City purchases plots of undeveloped land that they hold on to with the expectation that its value will rise as the surrounding areas have their infrastructure developed.

After holding the property for five to 15 years, the City can then sell the land for no more than 90% of the current fair market value. This means the future developer has more wiggle room to build affordable housing. The money the City earns from selling one Land Bank plot must go toward purchasing another one. 

It is the City’s only long-term affordable housing program.


The property at 1506 W. Horsetooth Road was the first Land Bank property to be “activated” when the City sold it in 2017 to make the Village on Horsetooth.

The new parcel, located at 1475 N. College Ave., belongs to Hoag Commercial Rentals, LLC. Hoag had approached the City about selling the western half of the land. Given its northern location and proximity to transit, employment and commercial centers, the parcel is an ideal addition to the Land Bank, said Sue Beck-Ferkiss, social policy and housing program manager.

Depending on the development of the surrounding land, the parcel can hold about 75 affordable housing units, Beck-Ferkiss said.

“I think to have another opportunity to have a place where housing will be affordable in perpetuity is really important,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kristin Stephens. “(Because of) the proximity to the transit and to commercial areas, … (this land) may get developed sooner than later.” 

$70,660 grant supports expansion of Club Outdoors

The D.R. & V. Pulliam Charitable Trust awarded a $70,660 grant to the City to expand and support Club Outdoors, a program that brings underserved youth to natural areas. Council incorporated this grant into the Natural Areas Department’s 2020 budget and assigned $16,161, as required by the grant, to further support the program. 

Club Outdoors is a partnership program between the Natural Areas Department and two Boys & Girls Club locations. The grant will help the program provide weekly activities and add more field trips to Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, as well as bring in the Loveland Boys & Girls Club location.

The grant covers one year, mostly as salaries for two summer internships and a staff person to run Club Outdoors. City staff said they expect to be able to obtain future years’ funds from the Pulliam Charitable Trust. 

“I’ve always thought that environmental protection is also social equity, that the natural environment is all of our heritage, but we don’t always get to appreciate it and certainly not people who don’t get access to transportation or other means to enjoy the outdoors,” said Councilmember Ross Cunniff. “So I’m very excited this gives the opportunity to many kids who otherwise wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”

Samantha Ye can be reached at or on Twitter @samxye4.