Quartz Hill project draws concern in Central City

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Council deliberates project and approves new cell phone tower

By David Josselyn

Call to Order

  The Central City Council Meeting was called to order by Mayor Ron Engels at 7:02pm on Tuesday, July 16th.  Alderman Bob Spain was absent.

Consent Agenda

  The consent agenda included the regular bills lists and the prior council meeting minutes. Alderman Gaines moved to approve the agenda and was seconded by Alderman Voorhies. The motion passed unanimously.

Objection to municipal fine increase

  During the open forum for items on the agenda, concerned citizen Kathleen Ashpaugh addressed the council regarding the proposed municipal fine increase from $1,000 to $2,650. Ashpaugh asked where did the amount come from and what is it based on. She also objects to linking the fines to the consumer price index and that the judge expressed concern about an increase in jury trials. “I don’t think that’s a wise use of government power,” stated Ashpaugh, and then rephrased her objection to declare it an abuse of government power. Mayor Ron Engels said that he believed all her concerns will be addressed tonight.

Violations of municipal laws will cost you

  City Attorney Marcus McAskin presented and reviewed Ordinance 13-08, amending provision of the municipal code to increase the maximum fine for municipal ordinance violations. The ordinance will increase the maximum penalty from $1,000 to $2,650 and then link the maximum with the consumer price index, auto-adjusting for inflation. McAskin then clarified that the fine amount was determined by the state legislature; additionally, the increase does not affect the minimum and the maximum amount is seldom used. Kathleen Ashpaugh again addressed the council arguing that the fine should not be increased every year based on consumer index. “I believe it is abuse of government power,” said Kathleen, you don’t keep adding on and adding on year after year without public control or review. Alderman Heider asked Attorney McAskin to respond regarding the automated increase. McAskin replied that the auto-increase was in the bill adopted by the state legislature and is common among many municipalities. The assumption is that the CPI is used so the legislature doesn’t have to take this issue up again. He went on to advise the council that it would be within their legislative discretion to say the max is $2,650 without auto-adjustment. Mayor Engels elaborated that using the CPI keeps the $2,650 figure the same value year after year. The water rates were not adjusted according to the CPI and the city got into a situation where they were not generating enough revenue from the water and had to make some drastic changes that could have been avoided. Alderman Gaines moved to approve the ordinance and Alderman Heider seconded. Prior to the vote, Gaines stated she just spent time observing the court and the judge is really reasonable with his fines. However, “don’t drink and drive in this town, he isn’t a fan of that at all.” He is a very fair person and unless he decides he wants to leave, I’m guessing Central City will want to keep him around a long time. The motion passed unanimously.

Quartz Hill tailings discovers nuggets of controversy

  Guest speaker, Steve Laudeman, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, addressed the council regarding the tailings remediation of Quartz Hill. The Quartz Hill project is one of the last areas in the Central City and Clear Creek “superfund” hazardous waste sites to be implemented. The overall goal of the project is to improve water quality of the North Clear Creek drainage. Laudeman stated that the six miles from Black Hawk to the confluence of North Clear Creek and Clear Creek is essentially dead. “There are some beavers further down, but there are no fish.” From Black Hawk upstream there are fish. “It’s a healthy mountain stream.” The design work was done in 2006 with several proposals to redesign the property and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is applying pressure to get it done. The project will re-grade the property (the Quartz Hill tailings) using dust control and then monitoring the process to ensure the tailings don’t leave the construction site. Should the historic depot buried under the tailing be reached, they will stop work and determine what and how to preserve the depot. The tailings will then be covered in a coarse rock material taken from the Central City Parkway construction. Working with Xcel Energy, they will remove the lighting and the poles without replacing them. Xcel owns the light poles and the lines which are currently being billed to the City and the co-owner of the lot. The upper portion access will be closed off permanently. This access has been reserved as an “emergency” route in case Nevada Street becomes impassable. The project also includes diverting a five-foot diameter storm sewer running under the tailings to under Nevada Street. The sewer will then join the existing storm sewer in the ‘T’ lot. The contractor feels that as they work down Nevada, they would close the downhill lane and cycle traffic one-way on the uphill side. “Until we get this out to bid and get the contractor on board, it is very difficult to predict” the time frame of the closures, said Laudeman. It could be up to four weeks, longer if we hit bedrock. Laudeman added that we really want to work with you all and the BID (Business Improvement District) to make sure this works. Joe Behm, Executive Director of The Central City Business Improvement District, suggested they could start the work, but not begin the road construction until after the summer season ends for the businesses. Alderman Glo Gaines speculated if there could be any kind of off-ramp from the Parkway near the KOA Campground for inbound traffic and then outbound could use Nevada. Mayor Ron Engels stated the problem with the off-ramp would be closing the ‘temporary’ opening after the project was done. Just now, he noticed that “the people’s eyes lit up and they starting jumping up and down at the mention” of that access point, “we will never get that closed again.” Engels asked what the options are for the council regarding the project, “Is this going to happen or do we have veto power if this feels like it’s going beyond” the scope of reason. Laudeman responded by mentioning that a benefit would be that those tailings would no longer run down the streets during a rainstorm and cause potential health issues. If there is a significant concern raised by the city that this should not be done, the concern will be considered by the EPA and Public Health. Alerman Heider asked what effect would this have on someone who wanted to come in and develop the property. Laudeman answered that if anyone wanted to develop we would want to “work with them saying we have put a lot of money into the reclamation” and we want to work with you to ensure the tailings do not get into the environment. Laudeman then stated that there is an historic structure that will be obliterated. Immediately, Aldermen Gaines and Voorhies, along with Mayor Engels objected. Engels reminded Steve Laudeman that if a structure is one that adds to the historical aspect of the area, it cannot be destroyed. Alderman Gaines informed Laudeman that you have three people here that have all served on the HPC (Historical Preservation Commission) “and we’re all going, ‘Wait!’” Mayor Engels queried what the best case is. Laudeman responded that the best case is starting work in mid-late September with a 12-week duration. Before August 1st, the question of access from Nevada needs to be resolved by the council. Laudeman warned that we’ve been told that if we can’t get this done soon, “maybe the money will go somewhere else.” Laudeman offered to leave his charts with the city to which the council agreed.

Request to share geographical data

  City Planner Robert Fejeran introduced Resolution 13-08 to the council. The resolution would approve an intergovernmental agreement with Gilpin County to share geographical data, such as roads, forested lands, drainage basins, zoning districts, and political boundaries, with Gilpin County. The intent is to improve coordination and communication between the parties with respect to development activities. Alderman Voorhies moved to approve the first reading of the resolution and was seconded by Alderman Gaines. The motion passed unanimously.

A new cell tower for Central

  City Planner Robert Fejeran presented Resolution 13-09 to the council. The resolution would delegate authority to the City Manager, Alan Lanning, to negotiate a lease agreement with AT&T and then delegate authority to Mayor Ron Engels to execute the lease agreement. Fejeran informed that if the use permit is approved, the city enters into a 25 year lease agreement; moreover, there are no negative fiscal impacts. Approving the resolution will authorize staff to move forward, but not approve the lease. Alderman Gaines added that she looked up the mapping for the proposed location of the new tower and it appears to be right on the edge or just outside of the historic district. The map indicates it will be up the Nevadaville Road off an upper parking lot overlooking the city. Fejeran confirmed that it is just outside the district, but it still would be visible from the city. AT&T will be mitigating the tower with a faux tree, about 75 to 80 feet. The accompanying structure will not be visible from town due to living trees surrounding it. Alderman Gaines moved to approve the first reading of the resolution and was seconded by Alderman Voorhies. The resolution passed unanimously.

Lottery money to fund park improvements

  City Planner Robert Fejeran announced Resolution 13-10 to the city council. The resolution would requisition a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to support the Central City Chase Gulch Reservoir Trail Park improvements. GOCO requires a municipal resolution expressing support of a project before granting funding. The amount of the grant would be $220,337. Central City Staff recommends approval. If the grant is awarded, the city will be in position to commence construction of the project. The project will remain environmentally friendly and there are no known conflicts concerning environmental issues. The total cost is about $330,000. This is a matching grant, so the city will be obligated to pitch in about $65,000 in cash and the balance in materials and labor. Alderman Heider moved to approve the resolution and Alderman Gaines seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Gaines gains responsibility

  City Manager Alan Lanning requested of the council to appoint a member to the Gilpin County Emergency Services Council. This person will be on the advisory side of things and not have voting power. The advisory member would be someone the board would come to in the event they had something the city needed to address. Alderman Gaines and Alderman Voorhies both expressed interest and after some discussion between the two, Alderman Gaines volunteered herself for the appointment. Gilpin County Emergency Services Council meets the 4th Thursday of every month during the day. Alderman Voorhies moved to approve Gloria Gaines to the advisory position and was seconded by Alderman Heider. The motion passed unanimously.

Staff Updates and Council Comments

  City Manager Alan Lanning expressed his thanks to the public works crews for the “good cleanup” on Saturday after the drenching rains. Alderman Gaines also stated that she was standing on Main Street during the deluge and “I don’t think there is anything the city could have done” to improve the situation. She added her thanks to the work crews. Also, “the Still in the Hills event went really well and I saw families up there.”

  Alderman Gaines went to the I-70 Coalition meeting and there was one big thing that came out of it. They’re doing a website and on that website they are including deals during their Twin Tunnels construction to get people up here, but they did not include Gilpin. They are adding Gilpin, but businesses do have to sign-up for it.

  Alderman Voorhies indicated that the Johnson Reservoir is “near and dear to my heart and I want a GOCO for it. So I am hoping that will be coming.”

Public forum

  Kathleen Ashpaugh once more took the stand to impart her thoughts. Her first concern is that we used to be able to access council minutes online, but haven’t since April. She then revealed her disapproval about the Business Improvement District regarding the BID audit saying, “the same folks who want a parking garage should get their own affairs in order.”

  Joe Behm, Executive Director of The Central City Business Improvement District, took the stand to commend staff who worked really hard to make the Stills in the Hills event a success. The distilleries were extremely pleased and the Colorado Distillers Guild will be behind this event next year. Changing subjects, he then talked regarding the Nevada project, “I think this is going to take a little more time before implementation. The BID was not involved, the council was not involved, and there needs to be more communication.” This warrants more investigation. Some of the rock piles on the Parkway are strategically located and I want to know which piles they will be taking from for the project.

  Lisa Artz of Central City next addressed the council saying, “I am the closest property owner to what’s going to happen on Nevada,” and depending on what happens, my house could be impacted. “I grew up in town, I’ve been here forever, and I’ve watched several of these projects happen.” I am in favor of this (Quartz Hill tailings project) and “I hope you consider the money that’s coming in for this, consider the impact of everyone, not just the businesses.”

Heads Up

  The next Central City Council Meeting is on Tuesday, August 6th at 7:00pm. A Water Meeting will be held on Thursday, August 1st at 6:00pm.

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