AP NEWS

Longmont City Council to Consider Leasing City-owned Farm

March 18, 2019
Chad Musick speads fertilizer on a field he plans to plant sugar beets in, southeast of Longmont in April 2018. Musick's Sipe Farms may lease 160 acres of city-owned agricultural property that Longmont holds in unincorporated Weld County.

If you go

What: Longmont City Council

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Civic Center council chambers, 350 Kimbark St., Longmont

Agenda: tinyurl.com/y2af2qfb

Longmont would lease 160 acres of a city-owned agricultural land in unincorporated Weld County east of Union Reservoir to a tenant farmer for $15,200 year, under an ordinance up for initial City Council action on Tuesday night.

The land, part of a 253-acre farm Longmont paid $8.2 million last October to buy from Newby Farms, LLC, to preserve it as open space, would be leased to Chad Musick of Sipe Farms LLC, who has leased the land from Newby Farms prior to the city’s purchase.

Musick “has a proven track record of providing a high level of stewardship on other city-owned lands,” the city staff said in a memo for Tuesday’s meeting.

For example, staff said, Musick produced nearly 500 tons of sugar beets and 2,250 tons of corn silage that were sold to an ethanol plant in Windsor and the Docheff Dairy in Weld County east of Longmont.

“In addition, 230 tons of alfalfa and 4,940 bushels of barley were produced, contributing to sustainable agriculture practices that benefit Longmont and the surrounding communities.”

The 160 acres the city would lease to Musick and his Sipe Farms LLC lies east of Weld County Road 5 and north of Weld County Road 26, in an area between Union Reservoir, which is a distance west of the farm, and St. Vrain State Park, which is southeast of the property.

It initially would be a one-year lease, but the city could extend it for four additional one-year terms.

The remaining 93 acres on the onetime Newby Farms property — areas that would not be part of the land leased to Musick — include four existing residences and associated outbuildings that Longmont officials have said the city intend to eventually sell, as well as access roads and a drainage gulch, according to Dan Wolford, the city’s land program administrator.

Wolford said Monday that the non-farmable part of the property also includes several properties “occupied by oil and gas operations” that were in place at the time of Longmont’s acquisition of Newby Farms.

Staff reported to council in October that ownership of mineral rights underneath the Newby Farms was previously severed and are currently under lease, and that the overall property has several oil and gas wells on it subject to an existing surface-use agreement.

There also are several older vertical wells on the property that are scheduled to be plugged and abandoned.

If the ordinance authorizing the 160-acre lease gets initial council approval Tuesday, it would be scheduled for a public hearing and final council action on April 9.

Among other items on Tuesday night’s agenda:

• Resumed council discussions of possible changes to the city Fair Campaign Practices Act rules for reporting contributions and spending in municipal elections.

• A public hearing and possible final council action on a set of ordinances that would create a new program for low-income residents to get refunds of at least part of the 3.53 percent municipal sales tax on groceries.

• A public hearing and possible final council action on an ordinance that would allow builders to defer payment of some of the development impact fees they pay the city for new residential construction projects.

• A vote on whether to increase Longmont Municipal Judge Robert Frick’s current annual $140,400 pay, and if so, by how much.

• A Visit Longmont report about that agency’s efforts in 2018 to attract tourists and other visitors, and the dollars they spent, to the city.

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