Woodland Park City Council Questions Downtown Development Authority Budget | Pikes Peak Courier

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WOODLAND PARK • City Council entered into a heated discussion at its June 16 meeting about the Downtown Development Authority’s plans to use its funding.

The authority’s money comes from Tax Increment Funding, but the board approves how the funds are allocated. Budget 2021 provided for $ 30,000 for upgrades to Woodland Station.

Woodland Park City Council members Rusty Neal and Kellie Case said that by approving the credit they believed the funds would be used to prepare the station for a specific project – the Williams / Christian Development Project. Since this project is currently at a standstill, the money has not been spent.

Neal and Case want the board to freeze the $ 30,000 until the project begins to move forward. If that doesn’t happen, the money could be added to the authority’s fund balance, they said.

City Councilor Stephanie Alfieri said she heard something different about the appropriation – that the money could be used for Woodland Station improvements unrelated to a particular project. She wants to allow the DDA to use the funds to make the land more usable by the community while it waits for a developer or sells the land.

“The $ 30,000 was categorized as ‘Woodland Station Improvements’,” Alfieri said. “I don’t see it as anything different. Things change. It is not uncommon to reallocate funds for different purposes.

City councilor Robert Zuluaga said Neal and Case were trying to micromanage the board.

“They (the DDA board of directors) are under a time constraint – they have to develop Woodland Station by December 2023,” Zuluaga said. “… If we restrict what they can do, we could be held responsible for hindering them.” … The idea that if the DDA does not work, the city recovers the land, looks like a conflict of interest.

Alfieri and Zuluaga have asked City Attorney Geoff Wilson to research the issues and get back to council on what it can and can’t legally do with regards to authority.

Wilson said he would send a confidential note to board members, so they can decide whether or not to put the funding issue on a future agenda.

An order that came later in the meeting on the initial posting was equally controversial. Merit Academy wishes to lease the former Woodland Hardware Store located in Building 6 at Gold Hill Square South as a temporary site for its charter school.

The city code states that licensed establishments cannot set up within 400 feet of a school. If the academy rents spaces in the square, existing restaurants and the liquor store will not be affected by the distance restriction, but they will not be able to expand their activities and new establishments will not be allowed to apply for permits. alcohol.

Planning director Sally Riley has proposed removing the distance limitation at Gold Hill Square South to protect existing and future businesses.

Before council began discussing the matter, Acting Mayor Hilary LaBarre warned them that the discussion is only about removing the distance limitation and nothing else.

Neal said if liquor businesses cannot locate near existing schools, schools should not be allowed to locate near existing liquor establishments.

“It just seems wrong,” he said.

“It’s not about the location of the school,” Riley said. “The school has a due process right to rent the space. It is not a zoning change; this is a change of commercial license. The school will appear before the planning commission to change the Gold Hill PUD.

LaBarre said the school has the right to use private property. Case added that spaces large enough to accommodate a school are scarce in Woodland Park.

Riley further warned the council not to talk about land use, which she said falls under the purview of the planning commission.

Zuluaga said he didn’t think the council had enough information. “I don’t know if it will be in the best interests of Woodland Park,” he said. “I’m being asked to move the boundaries… let’s just say it’s OK for our kids to go to school near the liquor stores.”

“It’s not about school,” LaBarre said. “It’s about removing the distance restriction, but we can’t do it without a public hearing.”

In the end, the board decided by a 4: 1 vote to approve the order and set the public hearing for July 1. Zuluaga voted against.

Wilson said the board needed to be educated on quasi-judicial issues.

“You have to be very careful not to say anything harmful about anything that might come before you later,” Wilson said. “You might have to recuse yourself. “

In other matters, the council approved the Yuyo Subdivision Final Flat and Subdivision Agreement. The unique 10-acre residential subdivision is located in the Sturman planned unit development at 1121 Sturman Parkway and is owned by New Life Holdings.

In addition, Council appointed Michelle Harris to the Historic Preservation Committee and Danuta Brown to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Council. He re-appointed Tim Rhatigan to the Public Services Advisory Committee.

City Manager Michael Lawson said that since the start of the year in April, sales taxes have increased 14.4% and lodging tax revenue has increased 140%. Accommodation taxes have increased by 689% compared to April 2020.

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