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Although the Boulder Planning Board did not recommend approval of the CU South draft annexation agreement, it deliberated for almost an entire work day last week, crafting pages of recommendations that will be provided to the Boulder City Council for consideration.

The draft annexation agreement that will guide development and flood mitigation work at the 308-acre property owned by the University of Colorado Boulder includes a right of first refusal or offer. This gives Boulder first dibs on the property if the university ever wants to sell it.

There was debate at last Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, which extended into Friday morning, regarding various conditions related to this.

As it currently stands, the city would have 45 days to go under contract for the 308-acre site. The Planning Board argued that was not nearly enough time and recommended replacing the 45-day term with a longer time period. It did not specify how much time would be necessary.

The board also suggested codifying that the university has no intention to sell the property, something CU Boulder officials regularly say.

The university does want some flexibility, however. And if it were to choose to sell it, the Planning Board argued that the agreement should set the purchase price in advance. It recommended the 1996 purchase price escalated 3% annually. CU Boulder purchased the land at a contract value of $16.5 million, which included about $8.5 million in cash.

“If they have no intent to sell, then I think they should codify that in some way,” Planning Board member Jorge Boone said in last week’s meeting. “And further (I believe) that the city should have the right to purchase the land at an established value.”

“If they need to sell for some reason, the city should be able to buy it at a reasonable price, not a market price 15 to 20 years from now,” he added.

The conversation about this was helpful for the city as it continues discussions with the university. If approved, the site, at U.S. 36 and Table Mesa Drive, would be annexed into Boulder city limits. A portion of it would be provided to the city and designated for the South Boulder Creek flood mitigation project, a major driver for city officials and proponents of the CU South project.

“It was especially helpful to hear some of their thoughts on the right of first refusal, what happens if (CU) sells the property,” Senior Planner Phil Kleisler said in an interview after the meeting.

In addition to conditions related to the potential future sale of the land, the Planning Board spent a fair amount of time discussing outdoor light and noise, particularly in terms of any parks and recreation uses allowed on the property.

It agreed to recommend that the City Council consider limiting recreational fields or any such use to daytime use and eliminating light and noise impacts to adjacent city open space and wildlife.

Though Planning Board Chair David Ensign ultimately supported the recommendation, he raised concerns about its limiting nature. If not for intramural soccer games and the like, then what would the land be used for?

Other recommendations supported by the Planning Board include encouraging CU Boulder to design an alternative energy grid; adding cooperative housing as a permitted use; and employing technology that captures real time traffic trends.

The board came to a consensus on most of the recommendations, but there were several it could not agree on. A suggestion to change the cumulative amount of non-housing development from 750,000 square feet to 500,000, for example, did not garner majority support.

The draft document stipulates a 750,000-square-foot cap on non-housing development.

Boulder residents and Planning Board members expressed concerns about this after noticing that the traffic study — commissioned by CU Boulder and conducted by Fox Tuttle Transportation Group — used a 500,000 square foot cap on non-housing development.

At some point, likely this week, the various Planning Board recommendations will be discussed with university representatives. Ultimately, the recommendations are just that. Still, while it is within the City Council’s purview to go in another direction, Kleisler said the Planning Board’s recommendations will be given a lot of weight.

The city charter requires a Planning Board recommendation, but there is a lot of value in it aside from that, given the board’s expertise, he noted.

“They are really steeped in land use matters on a weekly basis, and they provide a perspective that’s just really unique to any other review body relating to planning topics like this,” Kleisler said.

Initially, the City Council was set to have its first reading on the CU South annexation agreement Tuesday. Now, that is likely to move to a special meeting on Aug. 10 ahead of a two-part public hearing in September. There will be a community listening sessions on Aug. 9 and Aug. 26. To view the draft annexation agreement or to learn more about the project, visit