Public hearing on CU South annexation agreement draws almost 100 speakers

·3 min read

Sep. 15—For the first hour of the public hearing on the CU South annexation agreement, resident after resident spoke in favor of its approval.

Most of those who spoke in Tuesday's hearing were those who live close to the site and who shared harrowing stories of their experiences during the destructive 2013 flood.

"It happened exactly as promised, but even so, we weren't expecting how sudden and violent the flooding would be," resident Terri Walters said.

While the area surrounding the 308-acre University of Colorado Boulder-owned site was among the hardest hit, none of the people who died lived in that area.

However, with about 100 community members signed up to speak, the public hearing on the CU South annexation agreement extended well beyond the Daily Camera's print deadline. After an hour, the hearing was less than halfway complete.

The public hearing on the annexation agreement, which would permit CU Boulder to transfer a piece of the land to the city for the South Boulder Creek flood mitigation work in exchange for annexing the property near U.S. 36 and Table Mesa Drive into the city, marks the winding down of years of discussion between the city and its flagship university.

CU Boulder applied for annexation in 2019, and the initial draft annexation agreement was released earlier this year. Since then, negotiations have continued and there have been updates based on feedback from the community and Boulder's Planning Board, which did not recommend approval of the agreement.

According to earlier reporting from the Camera, the most recent update to the agreement includes a new right of second refusal for the city to purchase the property within two years of declining a first offer, limitations on nighttime events and lighted recreation and event facilities, measures to prevent people using the property to bypass Colo. 93 and Foothills Parkway, site development requirements and a transportation fee.

Mayor Pro Tem Junie Joseph and Councilmember Bob Yates recused themselves from the discussion, citing previous employment with the university. City Attorney Sandra Llanes said she supported the recusal out of an abundance of caution.

Councilmember Mirabai Nagle was not at Tuesday's meeting. She agreed to watch the hearing after the fact ahead of the council's deliberation and decision, which is scheduled for Sept. 21.

Emergency order

There was discussion on Tuesday about whether the annexation agreement should be considered for approval on an emergency basis. Councilmember Mark Wallach, in particular, asked whether it made sense to do so.

There is a ballot measure regarding the annexation agreement up for a vote in November. It would require a vote ahead of approval of the agreement and would require that the agreement includes specific details, including a site plan.

Additionally, the CU South project opponents, many of whom do not trust the university and who argue the 100-year flood mitigation project is insufficient, have stated that if the agreement is approved, they intend to use the power of referendum to require a citywide vote on it.

If the City Council approves the agreement as an emergency ordinance, it could move forward with some permitting work for its flood mitigation project ahead of a vote, Llanes said. That is a driver to do so, she said.

"If it's passed by emergency then we have a signed agreement," Llanes said. "It provides the city with a greater legal position and less risk."

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