Business at Council: Reopening from COVID-19, Hughes delayed

Samantha Ye

With Fort Collins City Council only dealing with their most pressing business, the Zoom meeting Tuesday night consisted of a smattering of different issues.

Planning to reopen from COVID-19

The City is awaiting clearer instructions from the state and county on next steps after the current stay-at-home order is phased into the safer-at-home guidelines, said Jim Byrne, City emergency preparedness director. 

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During a Monday conference, Gov. Jared Polis outlined the safer-at-home phase of Colorado’s COVID-19 plans, which aim for 60-65% social distancing and vulnerable residents continuing to shelter in place, according to the Coloradoan.

The stay-at-home order that closed Colorado’s nonessential businesses will end April 27.

Altogether, that means when nonessential businesses can open up next week, the City won’t operate with any less caution than they do today, Byrne said. They will work to restore their usual services as well. 

“I think the state needs to stay in control of the message that this really isn’t rescinding the stay-at-home order; this is a modification of the stay-at-home safety measures that we’ve been taking,” said Councilmember Ross Cunniff. 

Authorizing remote City meetings

Council is allowing certain types of City and quasi-judicial meetings to be held remotely during the pandemic. The meetings do not include appeals to any City decisions or hearings on land use zoning/rezoning matters. 

This means the Hughes Stadium rezoning hearing, which has been repeatedly delayed since last November, cannot be heard until Council can meet in person again. The new tentative date is May 19. 

Resident Mary Grant thanked Council for the delay, seeing as her own experience with the remote participation technology has “not been good,” and overall public participation has lessened since the move to online broadcasts.

“Part of the reason why Fort Collins is such an amazing place to live is because we do allow for the community to very actively participate in how decisions are made,” Grant said as a reason why Council should use caution in hosting hearings remotely.

Remote technologies can be used for other matters that are “pressing and (require) prompt action,” and a reason must be given for their urgency, according to City documents

Partnering with CDOT for Connexion

The City’s fiber-based broadband network, Connexion, will lease two dark fiber strands from the Colorado Department of Transportation for an average of $1,212.22 per month over the next 20 years. 

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In order for Connexion to work, the system must go through a data center to connect to regional and national telecommunication facilities outside of the City. According to City documents, the nearest data center is in Denver. 

To lease their unused strands of fiber from Fort Collins to Denver, CDOT offered the most competitive rate for the City, nearly half of the other offer from Boulder company Zayo Group.

Payment will come from Connexion’s 2020 budget, funded by the bond proceeds and Connexion user revenues.

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