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With the Nov. 3 election looming, some of the Boulder City Council members are saying a decision about a proposed house-size ordinance should come sooner than later.

If the eight council members don’t agree soon on the “compatible-development” ordinance, it could mean putting the contentious issue — with 18 months of research, public meetings and design work behind it — into the hands of a new council.

City staffers warned the council late Tuesday night that delaying the process by adding new regulations or taking time to analyze complex questions could add as much as four months to the process.

With five council seats up for re-election, some of the current elected leaders say they don’t want to risk waiting to pass an ordinance.

“I think this seated council needs to resolve this,” Mayor Matt Appelbaum said.

City Councilwoman Suzy Ageton agreed, saying the work that has gone into the project to date has deeply involved the current council.

“I think a council that has put an initiative on the table and has been working on it as hard as this council has been should be the one to complete it,” she said.

But, Ageton cautioned, keeping the matter moving isn’t as important as making good policy.

“I won’t use that as a reason to hold up something if I think we haven’t got it right,” she said.

Councilman Macon Cowles said the general direction taken early Wednesday morning to move forward with a staff version of the ordinance — which is generally more restrictive than previous ones — is indicative of the process nearing completion.

“We have enough information right now to act,” Cowles said. “I think we should act.”

Cowles criticized how long the process has taken so far, saying it takes “too many meetings of the council” and makes it “too hard to be a citizen” participant when a proposal is constantly delayed for more analysis.

Councilwoman Susan Osborne said she has “mixed feelings” about purposefully taking action before the Nov. 3 election.

“It is an election issue,” she said. “It’s certainly going to be, I think, one of the defining issues.”

She said the compatible-development project has been one of the most involved and heavily researched issues in her history as a city employee, and there could be a downside to waiting.

“We have been part and parcel of the whole development of this,” Osborne said. “On the other hand, I don’t think it’s the end of the world (to wait). I trust people would get elected who would appreciate the work that was done.”

As of Wednesday, seven people are certified candidates and will appear on the November ballot. Another six people have pulled petitions to become candidates, but they are not yet official.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or

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