Below are Boulder Weekly's five questions for Lafayette City Council candidates, and their answers.
Question 1: What are the three most important problems confronting the City of Lafayette? Please list them in their order of priority and briefly describe how you would attempt to solve your highest priority issue.
1. Right now, citizens in Lafayette and 5 other front-range communities are fighting a powerful industry to protect our communities, our children, our property values, and our health and safety from fracking and its toxins. Until now, residents have been fighting this battle alone. It’s time for the Lafayette city council to get off the sidelines and join with residents to protect our valuable and special community. Our health and safety are at stake.
2. Promote economic development both downtown and in outlying areas.
3. Build out the city and city services to accommodate new residents while maintaining Lafayette’s unique small-town ambiance and cultural heritage.
My three items include future development at US 287 and Arapahoe Road, continued economic development and revitalization to provide a wider variety of retail and service opportunities in Lafayette and CO Hwy 7 improvement to reduce traffic congestion and promote better safety. The recent decision by Erie to withdraw from various intergovernmental agreements limiting development in the area of Highway 287 and Arapahoe Road required Lafayette to also withdraw from the agreements as well. This crucial intersection must be treated carefully so as not to foster unneeded sprawl and increase congestion on the surrounding roads.
economic terms, we need to resolve the lack of a sustainable revenue stream
resulting from limited economic development in our downtown commercial area.
Careful revitalization of
our downtown commercial sector would increase revenues and enable Lafayette to
support programs and services to improve our quality of life.
2. In social terms, we are a
diverse but rather fragmented and unequal community. We can leverage our rich cultural diversity to enhance the
character of our city and create an inclusive community.
3. Massive residential and commercial developments around Lafayette threaten our small town and agricultural lands with additional commuter roads, undesirable suburban sprawl and inappropriate development.
Tom Dowling1. Revitalizing downtown business
It is important that a linear main street model be constructed that reflects the institutional strengths of Lafayette. Since there is strong affection for downtown Lafayette, we would expect people prefer to walk. There would be numerous street level attractions to hold the attention of the pedestrian: storefronts, street amenities, art, signs, and hopefully, architecture. Since food and beverage is replacing traditional retail in downtown retailing, more restaurants would be expected. Local, independent retailers should continue to dominate downtown.
2. Passing 301 to bring more clean renewable energy to Lafayette.
3. Passing 300 banning fracking.
I wouldn't use the word problems, but the items that Lafayette needs to continue focus on would be (1) Recent storms had some impact on Lafayette's water transmission from source to storage resources. Funding will be required to ensure the city can maintain water resources. (2) Encouraging more business in town; while employment and shopping opportunities have increased in the past few years I believe the city needs to encourage investment in the Lafayette Tech Center and on hwy 287 to improve the tax base.
a. A City Council that utilizes industry talking points in order to make City policy. I am taking action to solve this issue by running for City Council myself. I encourage others to also participate by running for elected office!
b. Xcel, the utility monopoly, points to Lafayette's electricity usage (and the usage of others) as a justification for the PUC to allow them to build more coal-fired plants. As a solution, I was one of the originators of Ballot Issue 301 which will allocate dollars to the goal of increased renewables thereby reducing the dependence upon Xcel/coal for Lafayette's residents, businesses, and the City itself.c. Stimulate local business growth by making Lafayette a mecca for renewable energy businesses and renewable energy consumers.
Question 2: Do you believe that increasing economic development in Lafayette should be a priority for City Council? If yes, what can the city do to accomplish this priority? If no, why not?
Yes. Sales taxes support local public services and so are critical to the financial health of the community. Lafayette has more opportunity to add larger stores in zoned areas, which would mean more tax revenue for us rather than neighboring communities. And it also has a walkable and eclectic downtown—a unique feature and something missing from newer communities with large housing developments and strip malls. Lafayette’s Downtown Vision Plan is an impressive roadmap for revitalizing the downtown area, particularly the phased approach to Public Rd development and the proposal for multifamily housing in the downtown mix.
Economic development is important for the community, having a vibrant business community provides for a wide variety of goods and services to be available in Lafayette, increases employment opportunities and provides tax revenue for city government without raising tax rates on individuals thus funding desired city services. The city can encourage businesses to locate in Lafayette with our quality of life, streamlined development process and if appropriate financial incentives. It is important for the city to support the expansion of current business activity by encouraging residents to shop at home and purchase more in Lafayette and less outside of town.
Yes, absolutely. The city needs to take a proactive approach in establishing partnerships with businesses that align with the small town character of Lafayette. The focus would be in revitalizing the Old Town business area with a group of small, local businesses that collectively can create a desirable destination for visitors. The revitalization of downtown requires collaborations between urban planners, developers and business tenants and the urban development authority. The vision includes small artisan businesses, arts galleries, studios, Latino and international markets, ethnic restaurants, cafes, business and areas that combine affordable housing, retail fronts and public plazas.
Yes, I believe there should be a very limited increase in economic development in Lafayette, and those plans can best be made by an Economic Development Task Force selected by the Council. The task force’s function would be to encourage the creation, expansion and retention of the manufacturing, retail, and commercial base of Lafayette, by reviewing and making recommendations on the economic development.
Yes, economic development is vital for Lafayette. There have been 3 city vision plans developed over the past dozen or so years without much action on previous plans. After the latest plan delivered in 2011 the City Council decided to create a separate urban renewal board to focus on economic development downtown. Work from this board is already producing results and more is coming. This is a priority for Lafayette.
Yes, by making Lafayette a mecca for renewable energy businesses and renewable energy consumers.
Question 3: Should Lafayette seek to limit its growth in any fashion? Why or why not?
My understanding is that the community will be completely built out at a population of 35,000. Subdivision building permits are currently phased in, and that helps for orderly growth of city services. But there’s no reason to say that the community should remain at its current size or that a population of 35,000 is too large. Lafayette is a desirable, affordable, diverse, and family-oriented community that will continue to be a draw to newcomers.
In 1995 Lafayette voters passed a Residential Grown Management Charter Amendment which has been renewed several times since 1995, most recently in 2012. This Charter Amendment currently limits growth in Lafayette to a reasonable level averaging about 2% per year for the next six years when the voters will again be presented with the renewal option.
Yes, Lafayette needs a long-term vision of the sustainable levels of growth to ensure our collective quality of life. Given that we currently have 25,000 people living in 9 square miles, it is prudent and necessary develop a sustainable model to ensure that Lafayette remains a unique small town surrounded by thriving local agricultural lands, horse farms and open space buffers. This visionary effort to protect the small town and rural character of our city will improve quality of life, attract visitors and contribute significant sales revenue to support many of our employment, educational, social, cultural and recreational programs.
Yes, I would not to see Lafayette to a population beyond 40 or 50 thousand.
I believe Lafayette should try to maintain its small-town charm, even though we try to rejuvenate downtown, but avoid high or large office buildings and such department or apartment buildings. Any big-box stores should be on U.S. 287 near Walmart.
Citizens voted last year to limit residential growth to 1200 new homes over the next 6 years, while grandfathering in existing planned developments. Ideally the market will determine the pace at which builders decide to build while staying within current restrictions.
Yes, we should limit outward growth. If we need to build more business/residential space then that should be accomplished by building upward or in areas that need to be revitalized.
Question 4: Are you for or against ballot measure number 2A, which would commit the citizens of Lafayette to an additional 20-year franchise agreement with Xcel, and why?
I am against a further 20-year commitment to Xcel and for the excise tax replacement tax. The hype about US energy supplies is Wall Street bubble talk. We will have a short reprieve of increased fossil fuel supplies before further unconventional drilling is simply uneconomic and the bubble bursts, much like the housing market did. Now is the time to press forward aggressively, at the local, state, and national levels, to force development of new energy sources.
I’m for the Franchise Agreement which provides about $750,000 annually in franchise fees to the city which are used for general government purposes. The Franchise includes an “undergrounding fund” which currently holds $1.4 million and increases approximately $180,000 annually. This fund pays for undergrounding overhead wires on projects. Without a franchise the undergrounding fund will not exist and city taxpayers will have to pay extra for any project where wires are moved from poles to underground. Lafayette has been a leader in solar energy and the programs that the city has participated in will not be available without a franchise.
I believe that the city needs to think strategically about our energy requirements and leverage new technologies to improve efficiency and reduce costs. I would also like to see a reduction in our dependence from coal power plants, and support alternative energy production. I believe we can re-prioritize our energy policy without the undesirable budgetary restrictions that this ballot measure proposes.
I am strongly against and will vote NO on ballot measure 2A! A 20-year renewal of the franchise of predominantly coal-burning utility Xcel and its emitting of greenhouse gases would be a serious mistake by voters of Lafayette in these days of existing and continued development sources of renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal. The website http://lafenergy.com/ provides much more information on Lafayette’s Energy Future and the Utility Occupation Tax alternative to Xcel’s Franchise Fee. I was to get able to get over 150 signatutes to I’ll vote YES on 301.
Yes, I believe the franchise should be renewed. This is simply a right of way agreement. With or without this franchise agreement Xcel will be the primary energy provider for the city as determined by the PUC. With the franchise the city determines how to spend franchise funds based on needs within the city. The citizen initiative for an occupation tax collects similar revenues but restricts how funds can be spent and this could have negative impacts on city services.
I am against it because Xcel has NOT been a good corporate citizen. They have had the resources and opportunity to invest in renewables and instead they have continued to invest in coal. Please compare Xcel to the example of Germany and you will see what could have been accomplished here!
Question 5: Are you for or against ballot initiative number 300, the citizen initiative which would restrict oil and gas activity within the city limits of Lafayette, and why?
I support question 300. Fracking is a toxic industrial activity that doesn’t belong in our community in proximity to homes, schools, playgrounds, parks, and open spaces. Grassroots citizen groups—not elected officials—are fighting laws that pre-empt local decision making, elevate corporate rights above human rights, and force communities to accept harmful activities despite residents’ opposition. Lafayette’s ballot initiative, a community rights amendment, says that we have a right to clean air and water and to community self-determination. It fights laws that make it “illegal” for people to assert their rights and “legal” for corporations to violate them.
I am against initiative 300 because it contains provisions that override the US and Colorado Constitutions as well as Federal and State law, which I believe will be challenged in court and are likely to be struck down by the courts costing the city untold legal fees that could better be used to benefit Lafayette in other ways. I am strongly in favor of working with state legislators to impose greater setback requirements, allow for local zoning control, stringent inspections with a sufficient number of inspectors and meaningful penalties for violations, all of which can be done legally.
I strongly oppose fracking in Lafayette, and I believe that municipalities need to advocate for the right to protect their community and their natural resources from unwanted industrial practices, inappropriate development, toxic exposure and the misuse of agricultural lands. I support the right of people to campaign for our entitlement to clean water, clean air and protection from pesticides and toxic waste at the state legislature and even federal level, to avoid placing the city of Lafayette in legal jeopardy.
I strongly support and will vote YES on ballot measure 300. I spoke with many voters about signing a petition to put this issue on the ballot, and nearly 200 did as part of the 2000 that put it there. The process of gas or oil extraction known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is based on drilling down below our aquifer (water), then turning the drill to a horizontal direction for over a thousand feet, when a mixture of water, sand, and toxic chemicals is pumped at very high pressure to break up the shale and release the gas or oil. There has been found by scientists many cases where the fracking process has resulted in serious contamination of the nearby air and public water! For this reason I support 300 to ban fracking within Lafayette.
I am against the initiative. Lafayette has not received a permit request for drilling in 20 years. There is currently a 3 year moratorium in place. There is no need for a ban that is illegal by state law and could cost the City money in litigation costs when we have had no interest in new drilling. The wording of the initiative is too broad and can have negative impacts on the city. It was reported in September that a technology company decided not to relocate to Lafayette because the initiative could have an impact on their business.
I am in favor of Initiative 300 because Fracking is a toxic industrial process that does not belong within ANY city limits!