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City Council session tackles land use codes, interview protocol

The entrance to Fort Collins City Hall. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

The Fort Collins City Council held a work session Nov. 9 to discuss the Land Use Code, which included a diagnostic report of what areas needed improved or updated.

Councilmember Julie Pignataro of District 2 was excused from the meeting, and all other council members participated virtually. 

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There were three items presented at the work session: the LUC phase one update, the building code adoption process and the boards and commissions interview process.

Annual community survey results revealed that “8% of respondents … rated the availability of affordable quality housing as ‘very good’ or ‘good,’ which is lower than both national and Front Range benchmark data,” according to the first item on the session agenda.

Councilmember Kelly Ohlson of District 5 expressed disappointment with the City organization and consultants for the presentation they gave.

“The quality of the work product to me is some of the worst I’ve seen, and I’ve been doing this a really long time,” Ohlson said. “Staff and the consultants should know that. It’s a basic economic fact — cost does not equal the price.”

“I don’t think we’re under the assumption — or at least I’m not — that a land-use code will solve our affordability problems because it absolutely will not,” Mayor Pro Tem Emily Francis said in response to Ohlson’s comment.

However, Francis believes it could help residents find “suitable and sustainable housing that fits their lifestyle” and relieve some pressure when looking for a home.

Another issue that was brought up by Ohlson was the way the City representatives were using the word “stakeholder.”

In this case, the stakeholders the City is looking into are developers who want lower fees and less regulations, Ohlson said.

“It’s equivalent to if you were developing air quality regulations at the state or federal level, and who you spent most of your time with developing the rules and regulations were the largest polluters in the state or the country,” Ohlson said. 

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“The ultimate responsibility of the planning department, while meeting with everyone and treating everyone fairly, … is to represent the average citizen or resident and taxpayer of the City of Fort Collins — that’s the ultimate stakeholder, not the economic special interests,” Ohlson said.

The second item, 2021 building code adoption process, was then discussed. 

“Adopting the current energy codes, along with improved compliance, has resulted in steady lowering of residential utility costs,” said Kirk Longstein, a project manager for the 2021 building code update. “Without remaining current on building code adoption the last two cycles, the average household monthly utility cost would have been $20 higher.”

A lot of the discussion of this item was centered around the City enforcing more requirements around electric vehicle charging infrastructures

If these EV changes are approved, there will be federal, state and local incentives for residential and commercial installment.

The last item, the boards and commissions interview process, discussed how these interviews should be handled and any changes the council wants to make. 

There were multiple questions provided by the City representatives for the council to discuss, including who will be present during interviews, if all candidates will be interviewed and if there should be a different process for quasi-judicial commissions, among other questions

Nothing was decided, but most of the council leaned toward having the liaison, mayor and another council member participating in the interview.

More information on the items discussed and a recording of the meeting are available on the City Council website.

Reach Austria Cohn at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @AustriaCohn. 

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