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City of Colorado Springs / Commissions & Committees / City/County Drainage Board

Thursday, August 05, 2010

ITEM 1

CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS/EL PASO COUNTY

SUBDIVISION STORM DRAINAGE BOARD MEETING SUMMARY

August 5, 2010

 

The City of Colorado Springs/El Paso County Subdivision Storm Drainage Board held its regularly scheduled meeting at 3:00 PM on August 5, 2010, in the City Council Chamber, City Hall, 107 North Nevada

Avenue.

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:     Brett Wyss, John Schwab, Ollie Watts, Emily Skalsky, Luanne Rubey, Jeff Johnson

 

MEMBERS ABSENT:        Stephanie Harrison

OTHERS PRESENT:         Tom Bonifas (City Engineering), Cheryl Callahan (City of Colorado Springs), Mike Cartmell (El Paso County), Mary Murray (City Finance), Candace Bridgers (City Finance), Lydia Maring (City Engineering), Dan Bare (Stormwater Engineering), Cam McNair (City Engineer), Dave Lethbridge, Time Mitros (City Engineering), Dave Gorman (Monument Valley Engineers)

 

Meeting called to order by Brett Wyss at 3:05 p.m.

 

Item 1:  Approval of the minutes from the June 3, 2010 Drainage Board Meeting 

 

Motion by Brett Wyss to approve the minutes

Motion was seconded by John Schwab

 

Motion passed unanimously 5-0

 

Jeff Johnson was not present for this item.

Stephanie Harrison was not in attendance.

 

Item 2:  Discussion of August 5, 2010 agenda

 

Tom Bonifas informed the Board that Item 4: Closing of the Monument Branch Basin (Flying Horse Development) is being pulled from the agenda by the City Engineer due to unresolved issues with the proposal.

 

Item 3:  Storm Drainage Quarterly Accounting Update

 

Jeff Johnson arrived for this item.

 

Mary Murray gave an update on the Storm Drainage quarterly accounting records. Finance has completed reconciliation of the drainage credits. The first payouts went out in July with an amount of $496,000. These payouts were suspended during the reconciliation. Ms. Murray requested input from the Board in regards to the interest earnings from the funds. Typically, these earnings are used to payout additional drainage credits. When the July payouts were done, interest was not paid because finance would like to keep these funds in reserve and bring suggestions to the Board on how to utilize these funds.

 

Ms. Murray further explained that under the current Drainage Board Policy regarding the use of interest allocations, the City is allowed to keep a portion of the interest earned, based on the value of fees assessed for a specific period of time, for administrative costs. For the most recent time frame, that total is $12,482.04. The salaries for administrative alone is far more than $12,482.04. In busier times, the percentage of what was kept for administrative costs was more substantial. The amount that was collected this time is not going to be enough to cover these costs.

 

Tom Bonifas further clarified the $12,000 number is the calculation of what they would receive based on the Drainage Board approved policy that deals with distribution of surplus interest. The interest allocation fund is what was used to fund Mr. Bonifas? position when that position was being funded by the Development Review Enterprise and they are now carrying that over until such time as an amended policy regarding the use of interest funds is approved by the Board. Based on the existing subdivision code, an allowance is given to use the interest to pay for administration to run the Basin Fee program and the Drainage Board adopted policy on how they distribute or utilize the funds. The $255,000 is what has accrued in that fund during the transition to new processes and new reimbursement cycle and is still available because it has not been distributed yet. Money has been distributed for the basin funds available in different drainage basins to pay people that have been on the list for reimbursement.

 

Mary Murray explained that staff is suggesting to not payout the $255,000 amount for drainage credits until they are able to look at the program as a whole to see what other options are available.  Brett Wyss wanted to know when that money is paid out, how it is allocated to projects. Ms. Murray explained that it is based on the priority after sorting the reimbursement list and whoever is at the top will get allocated to first.

 

John Schwab wanted to know why there was a negative amount in the Sand Creek basin. Mary Murray stated that they inadvertently paid a Lennar reimbursement twice. Lennar was entitled to a little over a million dollars and a voucher was put through for $496,000 twice. This meant that they were paid ahead of people that were higher on the list so at this point, the basin carries a negative balance. This has happened before in 2004 and was then discovered during reconciliation.

 

Luanne Rubey asked if the interest policy will be brought up to the stakeholders in the HBA (Home Builders Association) because if someone has been waiting a long time to get reimbursed and then the interest now goes towards salaries, those people will have to wait longer. Ms. Murray stated that talks are going on within the Drainage Basin Fee working groups but nothing has been decided. There are 2.25 FTE (Full-Time Employees) which the Stormwater Enterprise was funding but since the Enterprise is now gone, the only funding available for the program is the interest allocations.

 

Cam McNair wanted to add that the $255,000 is over and above what has been paid into the system. The Board has a memo with suggestions on how that money could be used: one suggestion is to help with the administration costs in terms of the staffing and the other option is to help fund a basin-by-basin study to ensure that improvements are still needed and what the real status is within these basins. Mr. McNair stated that they will be back with staff recommendations on how to spend that money at another meeting. Mr. Bonifas agreed to take whatever decision is made regarding the funds to the stakeholders.

 

Motion made by Brett Wyss to set aside a special venue but keep the date set for the regular meeting date scheduled for the October meeting to have a presentation and open discussion regarding the proposed changes to the Drainage Basin Fee program from Stormwater and the Working Committee.

Motion was seconded by Ollie Watts

 

Motion passed unanimously 6-0

 

Item 4:  Closing of the Monument Branch Basin (Flying Horse Development)

 

This item was pulled from the agenda by City Staff.

 

Item 5: Kettle Creek Drainage Basin (Academy Christian Church) Closure

 

Dave Gorman, Monument Valley Engineers, is representing Academy Christian Church. The church is on six and a half acres within Kettle Creek Basin. It is located on Old Ranch Road and Voyager Parkway and downstream of the Old Ranch Road within Kettle Creek Basin that has been closed already for drainage fees. They had met with City Staff before and believed that this would move forward. They have also met with Tom Taylor with La Plata who owns a large portion of the only developable land in this basin and La Plata was also involved with Vintage Communities and the closing of that portion of the basin. La Plata has been part of closing the remaining portion of the City owned part of the basin. La Plata is entitled to do this based on the annexation agreement with the City. Mr. Gorman then contacted Dan Bare with City Engineering and Mr. Bare was already working on the assumption that Kettle Creek was already a closed basin. The drainage report was already complete when platting took place and the closure report and request was completed.

 

Mr. Gorman stated that there are several reasons why this closure is fair and warranted. First, the basin is a self-contained basin with a single outfall point at the corner of Voyager Parkway and Montezuma. The church is on that part of the basin that drains to that point. The church is also installing and paying for drainage improvements to mitigate any developing impact as well as the maintenance involved. The pond that the church is going to build will allow water from the Voyager Parkway and Montezuma runoff to go to the pond so this will include some public water. Another point for closing this part of the basin is that in 2005 the Old Ranch Road portion was closed and the reason behind that closure was that it was a self-contained basin, drainage improvements were being installed to mitigate development impact in the area and there was zero impact at the outfall point. Other parcels have also been closed from drainage fees in this area such as Fisher?s Canyon. Mr. Gorman also pointed out that if miscellaneous fees are collected, those fees may not necessarily be used in the Kettle Creek Basin.

 

Mr. Gorman wanted to address the staff recommendations: the annexation agreement that the church has with the City that the church would comply with the conditions that were in effect at the time including installing improvements and pay drainage fees. The church wanted to come to the Drainage Board and have those conditions changed that are prevalent and close the basin. Staff report states that the previous closure was due in part to the size of the area requesting closure and that the church is only 6.5 acres and cannot be considered its own sub-basin with its own fee. Mr. Gorman stated that this is a smaller example of what has already happened in the basin and the size of the area should not be a consideration but rather do they match the conditions that led to the other closures. The Old Ranch Road area is 812 acres out of a total 12,000 acres in the whole basin. This basin is both in the county and the city. The city has closed out its portion of the basin, another part is on the Air Force Academy that pays no fees, La Plata will be requesting closure when it is the right time to do so on its part of the basin. The only part of this basin that will be left to pay fees is the church. The next recommendation reason is the fact that the Old Ranch Road Tributary which was closed in 2005 is a large sub-basin, 812 acres, and has two property owners. Mr. Gorman argues that the church is one property owner, 6.5 acres, the other property was a self-contained drainage system and the church is a self-contained drainage system, the other property prepared a drainage report as did the church, the other property installed drainage improvements to mitigate their impacts as did the church, the other property?s impacts were none and the church will have no impacts either. The third recommendation was that other properties within Kettle Creek Basin had taken into account the miscellaneous basin fees. Mr. Gorman discovered that the Pine Creek High School was platted in 1997 and that area was included in the area that was closed later in 2005. The other development was developed in 1994 and is also located in the closed part of the basin and built enough to not have had to pay that much in fees. Another recommendation from staff was that Kettle Creek remains unstudied. Mr. Gorman pointed out that in 2005 when parts of the basin were closed, as well as other basins in different times have been closed without studies being done and it was deemed appropriate then. The last recommendation that staff suggests is to keep appropriate fees in an escrow account in order to determine correct fees based on a study. The fees for the church right now is about $61,000 and would not be viable for them to put the money in an escrow and then contribute money for the study.

 

Dave Lethbridge is before the board in support of the church, not as a consultant. Mr. Lethbridge, who is a previous employee of the City, advised the board that the Kettle Creek Basin was to be a closed basin and his department was deferring fees due to the fact that the basin was to be closed. Mr. Lethbridge refers to the Fisher?s Canyon?s closed basin situation because the circumstances are similar. A couple of years ago in Fisher?s Canyon there were two small plats that were the only ones to pay a fee in Fisher?s Canyon because large developers within this basin were exempt from paying fees due to the annexation agreements from previous years. A later study determined fees and the only ones that had to pay were the two small plats. Mr. Lethbridge believes it is unfair to not close the basin for one when it has been closed already for larger property owners.

 

In conclusion to the applicant?s request, Mr. Gorman reiterated that they are requesting that the Academy Christian Church be a closed basin based on the fact that it is self-contained, will be installing improvements and there will be no impact downstream. It should also be closed so they are not the only ones paying fees in the basin.

 

Emily Skalsky wanted to know if Mr. Gorman had any meeting minutes from the City meeting when staff gave the impression that they were in agreement with closing the basin. Mr. Gorman did not have any minutes but stated that the staff would not disagree with Mr. Gorman about that meeting and even though the City did not state that they would approve it, everyone left with a positive attitude that there was a good chance that it would happen.

 

Tim Mitros, City Planning, Engineering Development, verified that when Academy Christian Church met with the city, staff believed that this might be a possibility. At this point it is becoming more of a policy issue. The main stem of Kettle Creek is not closed and the agreement with closing the 812 acres for property owners La Plata and Vintage was that when they started to develop close to the stem, there would be a study done and would most likely be closed at that time, but in fact right now the basin is not closed. A concern is that that Air Force Academy has put the City on notice due to concerns about sediment load coming into the big Kettle Creek detention facility based on a study that the Academy did. Because the City has not had a study done, this is not known the severity of the situation. The question would be if staff allows one person to not pay fees do all property owners in this area also not pay fees?

 

John Schwab wanted to know if the normal process to close a basin is for a DBPS (Drainage Basin Planning Study) to be conducted before hand. Mr. Mitros stated that since this area has not been studied at all, the City would be looking for a DBPS for the rest of the basin.

 

Luanne Rubey wanted more clarification on additional property owners in that area other than La Plata and the church. Mr. Mitros stated that there are other property owners in that basin that are not platted yet. Lydia Maring presented a map of the area and the unplatted properties within the Kettle Creek Basin. Several thousand acres are still not platted in the basin that is not owned by La Plata.

 

Brett Wyss asked if the annexation agreement commit the city in closing the rest of the basin or is it committing them to study the area first. Mr. Gorman?s understanding is that if there is an opportunity to have the basins closed does not commit the city or the Drainage Board to do it. Mr. Wyss also wanted to know what criteria must be met to close the basin. Mr. Lethbridge stated that the annexation agreement does not automatically close the basin but the study that was done was acceptable and caused the city to recommend approval on closing the tributary.

 

Tim Mitros reiterated that the city?s concern is that the basin is not closed so should they allow the six acres to be closed without the basin being closed. If they do this for the church then any other parcel within Kettle Creek can release historic flows and not have to pay the fees.

 

Tom Bonifas had also asked the question of city staff as to what kind of precedent is being set in closing smaller portions of properties in larger basins. There was agreement that the entire basin should be analyzed to determine if it can be closed.  Once La Plata comes forward to submit for the rest of the basin to be closed within city limits, a study will need to be done at that time and based on those findings; it still does not guarantee that the basin will be closed. Because the city does not have a DBPS, it cannot determine what facilities are needed, which is also a concern for the Air Force Academy. Brett Wyss wanted to know if there is one on the schedule to do the study. Mr. Bonifas stated that there is no study planned at this point.

 

Brett Wyss asked for clarification on the closing of the 812 acres and how that is different from what is being requested now besides the number of land owners. Tim Mitros explained that when the two property owners came in to close the 812 acres, they stated they wanted that portion closed and when they were to come back in to close the rest of Kettle Creek, they would do the Drainage Basin Planning Study then.

 

Emily Skalsky wanted to know if a DBPS was required when the Old Ranch Road and Fisher?s Canyon area was closed. Mr. Mitros stated a study was done called the Kettle Creek Drainage Basin Old Ranch Road Tributary Drainage Basin Planning Study and Master Development Drainage Plan.

 

Luanne Rubey pointed out that the report stated that this area was platted and then vacated and wanted to know if this area can be considered grandfathered in and not have to pay fees. Dave Gorman explained that the parcel was platted while in the county and no fees were paid. It was then vacated while still in the county and was annexed as an unplatted parcel. The understanding when this parcel was platted was that drainage fees were due so the grandfather option was not discussed.

 

 

 

Discussion:

 

Brett Wyss stated he would be in favor of closing this area based on the fact that they are not increasing the flow and the precedent was set by the closing of the 812 acres.

 

John Schwab stated that while he is sympathetic to the church?s situation, he would not want this issue becoming precedent for other small parcels to request a closure.

 

Emily Skalsky wanted to know from the city if there ever was a time when there was a closed basin without a DBPS. Tom Bonifas was not aware of one. If a basin did not have a DBPS, it would not be closed and put in the miscellaneous basin fee structure. Dave Lethbridge stated that it did not matter what the plan is called and the report that was completed should be sufficient. With that information, Ms. Skalsky stated that hydraulically this could be a closed basin but she would still be concerned about any policy changes due to this closure.

 

Ollie Watts stated that since the Old Ranch Road is already closed, La Plata has intentions of closing the rest of the basin, and the county is 90% developed; this may be the only small parcel in the basin that is left. Mr. Watts is willing to support the request.

 

Jeff Johnson believes that a precedent has already been set with the closing of the 812 acres. Mr. Johnson stated that with the fee system broke; singling out the smaller properties is not going to solve the problem. Mr. Johnson is in favor of waiving the fee.

 

John Schwab is not in support of closing the parcel.

 

Motion by Brett Wyss to approve the applicants request to close 6.55 acres of the Kettle Creek Drainage Basin for the purpose of assessing drainage fees

Motion was seconded by Emily Skalsky

 

            Motion passed by a 4-2 vote

            Opposed: Luanne Rubey and John Schwab

 

Item 6: Housekeeping

 

Mary Murray advised the Board that the overage that took place in Sand Creek Basin due to reimbursement out of turn has lead to procedures being in place to ensure that it does not happen again. Luanne Rubey asked if a flow chart of the drainage basin fees could be available for everyone coming into the process to see. Ms. Murray stated that they will work on a version of the internal flow chart to make it available during a workshop.

 

Tom Bonifas informed the Drainage Board that Cam McNair (the City Engineer) is retiring at the end of September.

 

No further business

Meeting adjourned at 4:41 p.m.