Smart Growth, Infrastructure and Community: Where County and Cities Intersect

John Kefalas is a Larimer County Commissioner.

By John Kefalas

At our Wellington Community Conversation, we discussed the proposed Montava Planned Unit Development (PUD) in northeast Fort Collins – located within the Growth Management Area (GMA) where development is guided by an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Larimer County and Fort Collins. 

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The county engineer, assistant city traffic engineer and city development review manager provided details about the project, addressed coordination between the county and city and answered questions. So why have such a spirited conversation in Wellington? 

The answer is because county residents have valid concerns about such a major development that has significant implications for Larimer County related to smart growth, infrastructure and community-building.

Where are we in this process? Last month, the Fort Collins City Council initially approved the PUD Master Plan and the Extended Term of Vested Rights Development Agreement. By resolution, City Council also approved amendments to the Mountain Vista Subarea Plan, Master Street Plan and the Parks and Recreation Policy Plan, and the Metro District Public Benefits Development Agreement that requires 15% of the housing be affordable – 30-120% of the Area Median Income (AMI). For a four-person family in Fort Collins, AMI is $85,100. A four-person family must earn $92,000 annually to afford a single-family home.

What is Montava? Montava is a proposed multi-use development that could build out to 3,900 homes over 20-25 years on 1000 acres of land – west of Budweiser to Turnberry Road with Richard’s Lake Road to the north and Mountain Vista Drive to the south. There’s also property in the southeast corner adjacent to I-25 below Mountain Vista for two schools. 

The PUD Master Plan includes a variety of civic spaces and programs, an urban farm, community gardens, natural areas and greenways. While such amenities are appealing, the developer and Fort Collins must still address fundamental infrastructure issues regarding transportation (traffic and multi-modal connectivity), water and wastewater, and therein lies the rub.

What is smart growth? Smart Growth America https://smartgrowthamerica.org/ defines this as “a way to build cities, towns, and neighborhoods that are economically prosperous, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable.” Smart growth seeks to address urban sprawl and deteriorating environmental conditions. Is Larimer County implementing smart growth policies through our Comprehensive Plan and land use code?

I’ve heard from countless anxious residents about relentless car and truck traffic on Country Club Road (CR 50) – a collector street that is not designed to safely accommodate current and future traffic volume. Effective this month, there will be a long-term prohibition of semi-trailer trucks on CR 50 with increased law enforcement that should help improve public safety, and the city and county are collaborating on installing traffic signals for Hwy 1/Douglas Road and Vine/Timberline intersections.

Montava is a phased development, and each phase must be approved by Fort Collins with infrastructure requirements that involve Larimer County and our jointly adopted standards. This development is a big deal, and if you have lingering questions and concerns then get involved. Join us at our March 7th Community Conversation, [Saturday], 9:30 – 11 AM, 222 Laporte Ave, [City of Fort Collins Administration Bldg.] 1 Colorado River Room. City and county folks will be listening and prepared to answer your questions with an eye towards addressing vexing problems facing our communities.

    

John Kefalas is a Larimer County Commissioner representing all of Larimer County