Boulder County advisory panel recommends $1.25 million Niwot-area farmland purchase


A Boulder County panel on Thursday night endorsed a proposed $1.25 million proposal to buy 40 acres of irrigated farmland near the intersection of North 81st Street and Oxford Road near Niwot.

Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee members voted 6-0, with a seventh member abstaining, to recommend that the Board of County Commissioners approve purchasing the land — and the property’s shares of irrigation ditch water rights — from Darrell and Geraldine Chandler, its current owners, to preserve it in agricultural use and prevent a possible future residential development there.

The Chandlers’ property lies on Oxford Road west of Colo. 119, also known in that area as the Diagonal Highway. It is directly west of the county-owned Jay Road Church of Christ Open Space property.

“The property is prime agricultural land of national importance,” Sandy Duff, a senior Parks and Open Space Department land officer, wrote in a memo for Thursday’s meeting.

“This property has been a priority for county acquisition for many years. The property is an important piece in the Niwot area community buffer, and it provides scenic land along the Diagonal Highway,” Duff said.

She said Boulder County, if it buys the property, intends to re-sell it to another owner in the future, but that it would then be covered by a county-owned conservation easement that would ensure continued agricultural use of the property.

Duff said the county’s purchase “will eliminate any future residential development on the property, and the property will remain in agricultural uses. Preserving prime agricultural land is one of the values of the open space program, as is preserving the county’s scenic corridors.”

Without the county purchase, and without a conservation easement if the county re-sells it to another owner, the county’s Land Use Code would permit development of one home there. Duff told committee members Thursday night that the conservation easement would remove that residential development right “for perpetuity.”

Janis Whisman, the Parks and Open Space Department’s Real Estate Division Manager, told committee members that the Niwot community has identified the property as one it wanted kept in its current agricultural-use state.

No members of the public called in during the panel’s virtual meeting to comment on the open space purchase proposal, which will next be scheduled for consideration at a county commissioners’ meeting.

The transaction would be paid for from revenues from Boulder County’s voter-approved 0.6% open space sales and use tax.