Gunbarrel Citizens Alliance (GCA) gives the 230-unit proposed development at Celestial Seasonings on Spine Road in Gunbarrel an overall grade of D+ on compliance with the letter and spirit of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, our planning charter for Boulder Valley. This proposal should be tabled until after serious subcommunity planning needed to achieve a better future vision for Gunbarrel. The proposal gets a good grade on the number of housing units that would move Boulder towards meeting its aggressive housing goals. However, the Planning Board must ask whether this benefit is outweighed by average, below-average or failing grades on the BVCP vision, core values, 2020 BVCP Update priorities, and BVCP guidance on appropriate locations for ultra-high density residential developments. By contrast, a report card for Holiday would be an A; Shining Mountain Waldorf School and Silver Saddle would get at least a B+ for similar-sized parcels with analogous issues. The Shining Mountain review establishes that annexation and Planned Urban Development documents – and subcommunity plans – are all relevant to site use review and development decisions. These documents have not been considered as part of the Site and Use Review processes for the Hain Celestial site in Gunbarrel. This results in an F on this very important element. In a community renowned for planning, GCA believes that only projects that get at least a B overall grade are entitled to approval, especially where Gunbarrel is on the verge of subcommunity planning, a priority recognized by both the city and county in the midterm update of the BVCP. On balance, too many aspects of this project fall short on meaningful BVCP and related metrics. Teacher’s note : GCA is committed to a Gunbarrel community that is welcoming, diverse, inclusive, resilient and revitalized with a better geographic and overall mix of land uses including residential, commercial, business, industrial, public and open or green spaces and habitat. GCA envisions a future Gunbarrel community that is better planned, more livable, and with a better quality of life informed by BVCP core principles (which we support!) and community goals, objectives and values. Gunbarrel is an important asset to Boulder and the future of Gunbarrel deserves careful consideration. The Celestial location is a “food desert,” and it fails BVCP criteria directing high density developments to “15-minute neighborhoods” closer to the center of Boulder with ready access to mixed uses. This proposal would be an automobile-dependent development for which the proposed “mobility hub” would worsen traffic, and increase miles traveled and emissions. Real estate is all about “location, location, location”. This project does not fit this location.
Celestial offers few if any of the intelligent land use or quality of life features of the thriving Holiday Neighborhood on North Broadway. Intelligent, inclusive Subcommunity Planning is the only way to achieve Gunbarrel’s vision. The Planning Board and City Council committed to Gunbarrel Subcommunity Planning as a top priority for the 2020 BVCP Midterm Update. We thank you for that, and request that you meaningfully deliver on that pledge. Because decisions for significant acreage of undeveloped land in Gunbarrel will affect the imminent Subcommunity Plan, the Planning Board should require that the Gunbarrel subcommunity plan be completed before a decision on the Celestial proposal. Temporarily deferring a decision is fully supported by numerous past decisions informed by the BVCP. Finally, Celestial Seasonings’ failure to deliver on active recreation acreage in the PUD raises important questions that must be resolved prior to any new development approvals. Gunbarrel is eager to engage in subcommunity planning and we need partners including city officials and staff willing to listen and foster meaningful collaboration, problem-solving and innovation. The full report card — with grades and reasons on 30 individual criteria — is available on GCA’s website. Kit Fuller is president of Gunbarrel Community Alliance. GCA Board members include Wanda Fuller, Julie Dye, April Lyons, Ardith Rietema, Rod Rietema, with Mike Chiropolos, counsel.
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