Public Works gets new employee

John Scarffe, Nederland.  The Nederland Public Works Department will get a new maintenance staff member after the Nederland Board of Trustees approved a 2017 Supplemental Budget during a regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the Nederland Community Center. The Board also approved streamlining administrative processes for multifamily units.

Town Administrator Alisha Reis said the 2017 Supplemental budget has been introduced to the Board several times. With the Board’s adoption of the 2017 Final Budget in December, the Board expressed an interest in discussing larger budget options, according to background.

Two options discussed include a Traffic Safety Program at the Police Department and adding a Public Works/Parks Maintenance staff member. The Traffic Safety Program would allow for additional focus on trouble areas around town, Reis said.

The safety program and a part-time maintenance worker for public works would be paid for through re-allocation of contracted funds and salary savings from the resignation of the Town Administrator and Special Projects Director, as well as the deletion of $3,000 for flowers.

The Nederland Downtown Development Authority was able to pay for Town flowers through a donation, Reis said. The idea for the Traffic Safety Program was that it would be introduced this year, but that isn’t feasible since the decision was delayed, so Marshal Paul Carrill is asking to retract that program from the Supplemental Budget and consider it more fully during budget discussions in June.

“Given the delayed reviews of the program, Marshal Carrill is not certain the program can be adequately rolled out, as planned in December. The original plan was based upon first quarter 2017 (3 months) educational programming and ramping up. Given that is nearly half over, it may be a better idea to further consider this program, with additional public education, over the next several months and then roll out the program in January 2018.”

Reis presented the Supplemental Budget with Option A that would have included the safety program and Option B, which does not include traffic safety but does include concept development for Phase I of the Biosolids project and the maintenance person. The Board expressed an interest in moving forward with 30 percent design concept on the Biosolids project.

Option B is being put forward, and the safety program is not being put forward, Reis said. Trustee Stephanie Miller pointed that the budget did not show the $7,000 donation for the flowers, and Reis said they should add that as revenue. The Board approved Option B.

Mayor Kristopher Larsen said the Board had asked the Nederland Planning Commission to look at streamlining the process for multifamily residential units. Reis said that with the local housing environment, folks are having a hard time finding places to live. Additional housing was identified as a major need in the 2014 housing needs assessment.

The goal for Nederland identified during a public housing forum sponsored by the Planning Commission and local housing committee in December 2015 was to support quality, affordable housing for the workforce, Reis said. This was one of six items the Board identified as goals during an August 2016 work session.

“We have learned that the process for building multifamily units takes at least eight weeks, stretching to 12 weeks because we’ve had a lot of applications during the past two years,” Reis said. All multi-family dwelling units in Nederland residential districts require Special Review Use (SRU) permits.

“Potential land use applicants have indicated that the SRU process presents a barrier to development of lower cost housing due to developments costs, timeline and board approval,” according to background.  For about four years, the Planning Commission has discussed allowance for streamlined review of multifamily residences under four units for new construction or renovation projects.

“The allowance for administrative streamline is only available provided that all zoning aspects are compliant. Properties unable to adhere to yard and bulk requirements will still be required to undertake the SRU process, and/or apply for a variance, if applicable and in alignment with required conditions.”

Reis said no changes would be made to existing standards for requirements including, off-street parking, setbacks, allowable density and building codes. It would simply be an administrative process.

Trustee Julie Gustafson asked if notification of neighbors would be required. Reis said this is not being proposed, as it would be a use by right, not requiring notification. The applicant would have to post a building permit, and then people can come and ask about the project at Town Hall.

Miller, who is Board liaison to the Planning Commission, said the change doesn’t increase density at all. It just encourages people to use their property better.

Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Wood said he was for that, but said that some neighborhoods have covenants that might trump the town ordinance, not allowing for multi-family units in areas such as Indian Peaks. Miller said the Planning Commission was unanimous in moving this forward. They looked at a consistent policy across the board and not by neighborhood.

“It really was the low hanging fruit. We did have lots of discussion at the Planning Commission about notifying neighbors, but putting a requirement in there would suggest they have a process, and we don’t. We can notify them but there really isn’t anything they can do about it,” Miller said.

The Board approved streamlining the SRU process for multi-family housing.