Citizen Minutes – 12.15.2105 Regular Council Meeting

Citizen Minutes                          Regular City Council Meeting                         15 December 2015

This meeting was very interesting – the exchange between Michael Penny and Doug Clark during Reports is important.

Public Comment

Jeanie Erickson told the council that she did not believe impact fees could be used to fund the proposed fire station. Continue reading

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Impact Fees – Why This Is Important

What are Impact Fees ?

Impact fees are fees a local government may impose when a permit is issued to fund the cost incurred by the local government on capital facilities (i.e. city center, library, museum) needed to serve a new development. (C.R.S. 29-20-104.5)

John Watson, a member of the Sunshine Boys, began the conversation with city council in 2013. Mr. Watson, a former developer, was shocked that Littleton did not impose impact fees on new development to help mitigate some of the expenses brought on by new development. In other words, growth should pay for growth.

In August of 2013 an ordinance was passed that codified impact fees for Littleton and they have been collected ever since. This Tuesday, December 15, 2015, city council will hear, on second reading, several ordinances that will allow the council to use impact fees collected from Littleton Village (old Marathon Oil property), The Meadows at Platte Canyon (Mineral and Platte Canyon), the Jamison Street project (Jamison and Broadway) and the apartment complex at County Line and C470 to be used to help fund the building of a new fire station in TrailMark.

TrailMark is located about five miles south of Littleton and is part of the Littleton community. (Just west of Chatfield Reservoir off of Wadsworth). If the ordinances are approved by council on Dec. 15, 2015, impact fees and general fund monies will be used to pay for the fire station; a deficiency that has existed for years and this point is critical as you will see.

Now no one is doubting that there are issues with the emergency response times in TrailMark and they deserve a resolution.  But, using impact fees to address an existing deficiency in capital facilities appears to be a violation of the state law and the city’s own ordinance.

The state law states that the “local government shall quantify the reasonable impacts of proposed development on existing capital facilities” and can charge only what is “necessary to defray such impacts directly related to proposed development.” Language could be manipulated in connecting Littleton Village (and the other developments mentioned) as the reason for  the stress upon fire services thus requiring a new station in TrailMark.  But the law also states, “No impact fee …shall be imposed to remedy any deficiency in capital facilities that exists without regard to the proposed development.” The lack of a fire station in TrailMark is an existing deficiency and therefore impact fees cannot be used to fund those capital needs; in my opinion.

On Dec. 15th the council is scheduled to vote on several ordinances that will approve the use of impact fees to pay for the new fire station in TrailMark.   The station has been labeled as multi-purpose, which will allow the council to raid the impact fees from the police and facility funds as well. To date the following has been collected in the three funds that are the point of this post.

Facilities         $665,000                   Police     $132,000               Fire   $98,000

The total of the three funds is insufficient to pay for the structure but not to worry! One of the ordinances scheduled for Tuesday night’s meeting would approve a loan from the general fund to the impact fee funds (yes all three would be infused with our tax payer dollars) to cover the shortfall. The funds are to be repaid over the next three years by future projects that may or may not come to Littleton.  And there is concern about whether this is leal as well.  How do you connect a future development’s impact on a facility that has already been built?

Why Should You Care?

Several citizens believe the council will be violating not only the state law but their own ordinance that states the need to “respect broad equal protection concepts to ensure there is an essential nexus between the capital facility impact fee imposed and the mitigation of specific adverse impacts associated with new development.” Is there an “essential nexus” between a fire station in TrailMark and Littleton Village? Do we really want our general fund to be raided ($1,988,000) to overstate the impact fee fund accounts so council can say that the impact fees paid for the proposed facility?

This loan is too risky – if you have any history in Littleton you know that there was another interfund loan years ago – money taken from the Water Fund and never repaid. This will most likely go the same way leaving taxpayers with the debt. If council was voting to loan their own money to the impact fee funds would they approve the request or would they deem it too risky? If it would be too risky for them to use their own money why isn’t it too risky to use the taxpayer’s money?

What Did The Consultant Say?

Going back to council’s own study session, prior to the approval of our impact fee ordinance, there was some discussion about the need for more parking at Bemis Library. Bruce Beckman, our current mayor, asked if they could use the library impact fees to pay for a parking expansion at Bemis. The response was emphatic – No, the parking lot expansion would be an existing deficiency and therefore the impact fees could not be used to fund such a project.

Using that as an analogy, why would it be legal for the council to use impact fees collected from the developers of recent projects in Littleton to pay for the building of a new fire station in TrailMark when the need for a fire station is an existing deficiency?

The time to speak up is now. Let your council representatives know that you want the impact fees collected from each developer to be spent to mitigate the impact that new development has on the community and not to be spent in what appears to be a violation of the state law or the city’s own ordinance. You can email your concerns to Wendy Hefner at wheffner@littletongov.org and request that your email be distributed to all council members.  Don’t wait to make your concerns known.  Or, come to the meeting on Tuesday, December 15 and address the council during the public hearing.

But There’s More!

We would like to say that is all there is but this issue gets murkier and murkier as you get into the funding. It has been described as a shell game on steroids, sleazy, too complicated to follow, and how can they do that? If we tried to get into all the details of the “shell game” your eyes would glaze over. You would quit reading – we wanted to quit! But we didn’t. Two council members have been asked if they could explain the funding mechanism presented by the city manager; both said they did not understand it either! But, they both voted to approve the scheme on first reading! Hopefully there will be enough exchange at the next meeting that everyone in the room will understand the entire funding scheme before the vote takes place to approve.

Littleton’s Ordinance Regarding Impact Fees – How They Have To Be Used – Does TrailMark Qualify Under Our Own Ordinance?

Follow this link to read Littleton’s Impact Fee Ordinance – 7c attachment  If you want to save some time read below.

To save you time here are the important statements in the Ordinance passed by council in 2013.

WHEREAS, the capital facility impact fee system must respect broad equal  protection concepts to ensure there is an essential nexus between the capital facility impact fee and the mitigation of specific adverse impacts associated with new development. (Page 1, line 42)

and

Purpose:  The purpose of this chapter is to charge a capital facility impact fee to applicants for nonresidential and residential development in the City to fund capital improvements needed to address demand attributable to new development for fire, museum, police, facilities, library, parks and transportation.  (Page 2, line 30)

and

The city council intends that the capital facility impact fees collected pursuant to this chapter are to be used to fund expenditures for capital facilities attributable to new development.  (page 3, line 11)

Is TrailMark a new development that has create adverse impacts on Littleton?  Are the Impact Fees recently collected and to be collected in the future and proposed to be used to build a fire station in TrailMark the result of new development?  You decide!

 

C.R.S. 29-20-104.5 Impact Fees

TITLE 29. GOVERNMENT – LOCAL  
LAND USE CONTROL AND CONSERVATION  
ARTICLE 20.LOCAL GOVERNMENT REGULATIONOF LAND USE  
PART 1. LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAND USE CONTROL ENABLING ACT
C.R.S. 29-20-104.5 (2015)
29-20-104.5. Impact fees


(1) Pursuant to the authority granted in section 29-20-104 (1) (g) and as a condition of issuance of a development permit, a local government may impose an impact fee or other similar development charge to fund expenditures by such local government on capital facilities needed to serve new development. No impact fee or other similar development charge shall be imposed except pursuant to a schedule that is:
(a) Legislatively adopted;
(b) Generally applicable to a broad class of property; and
(c) Intended to defray the projected impacts on capital facilities caused by proposed development.

(2) A local government shall quantify the reasonable impacts of proposed development on existing capital facilities and establish the impact fee or development charge at a level no greater than necessary to defray such impacts directly related to proposed development. No impact fee or other similar development charge shall be imposed to remedy any deficiency in capital facilities that exists without regard to the proposed development.

(3) Any schedule of impact fees or other similar development charges adopted by a local government pursuant to this section shall include provisions to ensure that no individual landowner is required to provide any site specific dedication or improvement to meet the same need for capital facilities for which the impact fee or other similar development charge is imposed.

(4) As used in this section, the term “capital facility” means any improvement or facility that:
(a) Is directly related to any service that a local government is authorized to provide;
(b) Has an estimated useful life of five years or longer; and
(c) Is required by the charter or general policy of a local government pursuant to a resolution or ordinance.

(5) Any impact fee or other similar development charge shall be collected and accounted for in accordance with part 8 of article 1 of this title. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, a local government may waive an impact fee or other similar development charge on the development of low- or moderate- income housing or affordable employee housing as defined by the local government.

(6) No impact fee or other similar development charge shall be imposed on any development permit for which the applicant submitted a complete application before the adoption of a schedule of impact fees or other similar development charges by the local government pursuant to this section. No impact fee or other similar development charge imposed on any development activity shall be collected before the issuance of the development permit for such development activity. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a local government from deferring collection of an impact fee or other similar development charge until the issuance of a building permit or certificate of occupancy.

(7) Any person or entity that owns or has an interest in land that is or becomes subject to a schedule of fees or charges enacted pursuant to this section shall, by filing an application for a development permit, have standing to file an action for declaratory judgment to determine whether such schedule complies with the provisions of this section. An applicant for a development permit who believes that a local government has improperly applied a schedule of fees or charges adopted pursuant to this section to the development application may pay the fee or charge imposed and proceed with development without prejudice to the applicant’s right to challenge the fee or charge imposed under rule 106 of the Colorado rules of civil procedure. If the court determines that a local government has either imposed a fee or charge on a development that is not subject to the legislatively enacted schedule or improperly calculated the fee or charge due, it may enter judgment in favor of the applicant for the amount of any fee or charge wrongly collected with interest thereon from the date collected.

(8) (a) The general assembly hereby finds and declares that the matters addressed in this section are matters of statewide concern.
(b) This section shall not prohibit any local government from imposing impact fees or other similar development charges pursuant to a schedule that was legislatively adopted before October 1, 2001, so long as the local government complies with subsections (3), (5), (6), and (7) of this section. Any amendment of such schedule adopted after October 1, 2001, shall comply with all of the requirements of this section.

(9) If any provision of this section is held invalid, such invalidity shall invalidate this section in its entirety, and to this end the provisions of this section are declared to be nonseverable.
Continue reading

Citizen Minutes – Regular Council Meeting 12.01.2015

Citizen Minutes                        City Council Regular Meeting                     1 December 2015

Note: There’s a lot of mention of Impact Fees and spending Impact Fees. I will post a separate post that will display the state law on Impact Fees and I will also post the city’s own Ord on Impact Fees. You should take the time to read both of these documents. They spell out why Impact Fees can be collected and how they can be spent. Once you read the documents you can decide for yourself if what the council is proposing to do is within the bounds of the state law – which does govern over our home rule because the State has determined that Impact Fees are a matter of state-wide concern.
Continue reading

TrailMark Board of Directors Meeting Minutes – July 21 and Sept. 15, 2015

Obviously there are concerns with emergency response times at TrailMark as indicted in the excerpt from their Board of Directors Meeting Minutes of Sept. 15, 2015.  If you have ever had to call 911 you know how stressful it is to wait for help to arrive.  I have and each minute seems like an eternity.
What is important about the following information is the fact that TrailMark residents are being told about a solution to their problem with response times but council has not had a single public meeting on the subject.  It is obvious that business is taking place outside of the council meetings and outside of the public’s view and without the support of the majority of the council.
From their minutes July 21, 2015:

Emergency Response Times in TrailMark: Director Russell relayed Director Tolle’s report for May and June. During the two months, response times ranged from 8-12 minutes. There is a possibility that the City of Littleton may terminate their IGA with West Metro Fire in the spring of 2016.  

From their minutes Sept. 15, 2015:

 Emergency Response Times in TrailMark – Director Tolle reported that in July there were five calls for service with response times ranging from 7:50-12:53 minutes.  For August, there are two calls ranging from 11:25-17:32 minutes.  Long response times seem to begin with long dispatch times due to confusion about TrailMark’s location and station responsibility.  Beginning in April 2016, fire coverage for TrailMark will return to Littleton Fire #16.  The Board will continue to monitor response times and advocate on behalf of TrailMark residents.

TrailMark HOA Minutes Sep. 10, 2015 – City Manager Confirms Station to be Built by June 2016 – No Council discussion has taken place…..publically anyway

TRAILMARK HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC. Board Meeting Minutes
September 10, 2015

 

Michael Penny (City of Littleton Manager)

Michael Penny gave the following information in his update about happenings with the City of Littleton as they pertain to Trailmark. Continue reading