At its June 24th meeting, the Boulder Planning Board deliberated and unanimously approved the Spine Road project. Located in Gunbarrel, this project will build 230 homes including studios, live-work and 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units. A small number of for sale units will be offered through Habitat for Humanity. The developer has committed to providing no-cost space for a corner library and a coffee shop, as well as $200,000 seed money to start a shuttle to take Gunbarrel residents from the new development to the Gunbarrel commercial district and grocery store 1.25 miles away.
Public Hearing. The Spine Road public hearing occurred June 17th. A total of 31 people, including a few brave neighbors of the project, testified in support of the project and the housing it would provide, while 29 people testified against it, saying the project should be built elsewhere. Many opponents said they support affordable housing and racial, ethnic, and income diversity—just not now, and not here.
Planning Board decision. Planning Board deliberated and approved the project 6-0 on June 24th. Sarah Silver acknowledged that the project would bring “needed housing” to the City. Lupita Montoya was pleased that the project included some for sale units. Other than these two comments, there was virtually no mention of housing, or of the housing shortage in Boulder for people earning less than $150,000 per year. No Planning Board member empathized with the difficulty of obtaining housing in Boulder, which was mentioned by many of the people who spoke in support of the project.
Planning Board Member Jorge Boone wanted to impose a condition that the property owner provide provide rent free space in perpetuity for a library and coffee shop. Planning Board Member John Gerstle wanted to impose a condition on Celestial Seasonings, which was NOT a party to the Site Review, that the company must build ball fields for its employees on some other piece of land. Board Members Boone and Gerstle were informed by the City Attorney that the City had no right to do either of those things.
For a detailed account of Planning Board’s discussion of the Spine Road project, read BHN Editor Claudia Hanson Thiem’s live tweet thread here.
What can you do to ensure that the approval is final? Email City Council and tell them not to “call up” the project. If Council does not call up the project, the decision of the Planning Board is final. Email Planning Board and thank them for approving 230 homes in Spine Road project.