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Longmont City Council to Consider $2.9 Million Open Space Purchase

February 12, 2019
Longmont Times-Call

If you go

What: Longmont City Council

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Civic Center council chambers, 350 Kimbark St.

Agenda: tinyurl.com/y8vn8axh

Longmont City Council on Tuesday will decide whether to approve the more than $2.9 million purchase of 71.57 acres of Weld County farm land northeast of the city as a step toward permanently maintaining it as undeveloped agricultural open space.

However, city staff said it also intends to pursue reselling the property to a private owner — for a quarter of that $2.9 million amount — in order to avoid Longmont having to pay the costs of maintaining and operating the farmland while still permanently preserving its agricultural use.

Up for a council vote on Tuesday is a resolution that would authorize the $2.9 million acquisition of the property— which lies south of Colo. 66 , west of Weld County Road 5 and north of Union Reservoir — as part of the plan to protect prime agricultural land “and shape our community by limiting development on the north of Union Reservoir and within the Union Reservoir drainage basin,” staff stated in a memo to council.

“This acquisition fulfills the goals of the open space program, preserving agricultural lands while providing urban shaping buffers between communities,” the memo states.

However, under a longer-range plan staff also is presenting to council, Longmont would eventually re-sell the property at 1430 Colo. 66 to a private owner, with the city retaining a conservation easement that would restrict any future owner’s ability to develop it for non-agricultural uses.

That future buyer of the property would pay Longmont $733,737 — about 25 percent of the $2.9 million price city staff has proposed spending to purchase the property.

That private purchaser would be responsible for the long-term management and maintenance of the property, staff said, eliminating the operating and maintenance expenses the city budget’s open space account would have to pay if Longmont retained ownership, according to city staff.

The city-held conservation easement would achieve the goal of preserving the property as open space even if it returns to private ownership, staff stated.

Dan Wolford, city natural resources manager, said Monday that closing on the initial $2.9 million purchase of the property, if the council approves it, is scheduled for late March.

A potential private buyer has “indicated a desire” to acquire the property from Longmont after the city takes over ownership, Wolford said.

The “potential conveyance” of the property to a private owner will be presented for council consideration and action at a future meeting, staff stated in its memo.

Staff initially presented city council the possibility of purchasing the Double Six Ranch LLC property in April, and council on April 24 voted unanimously to direct staff to proceed with negotiations.

The $2.9 million purchase price up for consideration Tuesday includes historic water rights associated with the property, 2.5 shares of the Highland Ditch Co. and 10 shares of Lake McIntosh Reservoir Co.

The seller would retain all mineral rights, but a restrictive covenant agreement with the city would ensure the surface of the property would remain undisturbed by mineral development, including oil and gas wells, which would have to be drilled horizontally beneath the surface from an off-site location.

Funding for the city’s $2.9 million purchase of the farmland would come from open space bonds, whose principal and interest repayments are backed by a 0.2 percent sales tax for the open space program.

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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