How to Write A successful Letter to the County Planners

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Boulder County Property Address

5701 N 79th Street

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Docket Number

SU-23-0016

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Question or comment

Write your reasons for concern.

Write your letter starting with your position, for example: ‘I fully oppose the land change request for the membership club tennis facility, and urge it to be denied in full because…‘. You can also ask questions. Wondering about habitat disturbance, large impermeable surface, over intensive use of land? Ask the builders to address these points with the developers. You may also email the planners directly at planner@bouldercounty.gov

If you wish to address the county commissioners who will have the ultimate say about the development you may do so, but it is not necessary.

Commissioner Ashley Stolzmann

Commissioner Marta Loachamin

Commissioner Claire Levy

Potential Talking Points for Your Letter
The Criteria Needed for a Land Change
These are the criteria upon which the Planning Commission, and the County Commissioners will base their decision for the proposed land use change.

One of the most important criteria is the over-intensive use of landA.4. This is its definition:
Will the use result in an over-intensive use of land or excessive depletion of natural resources.
In evaluating the intensity of the use, the Board should consider the extent of the proposed development in relation to parcel size and the natural landscape/topography;

– the area of impermeable surface
– the amount of blasting, grading, or other alteration of the natural topography
– the elimination or disruption of agricultural lands
– the effect on significant natural areas and environmental resources
– the disturbance of plant and animal habitat, and wildlife migration corridor
– the relationship of the proposed development to natural hazards
mitigation measures such as the preservation of open lands, the addition or restoration of natural features and screening, the reduction or rearrangement of structures and land disturbance, and the use of sustainable construction techniques, resource use, and transportation management

4-601 A-4: Area of impermeable surface
– At least 26 tennis courts plus a 100 car parking lot will be covered with impermeable surfaces such as asphalt and cement. The impermeable area could likely be 10 acres.

4-601 A-4: Alteration of the natural topography
– Over 55,000 cubic yards of soil will be moved in order to create impermeable surfaces for 26 tennis courts, 2 pools, clubhouse, 100 parking areas and walkways.

4-601 A-4: The elimination or disruption of agricultural lands
– Adjacent agricultural land and lifestock will experience the effects of increased noise, light, and traffic.

4-601 A-4: Effect on significant natural areas and environmental resources.
– The development is located with an Area III-Rural Preservation site.

4-601 A-4: Disturbance of plant and animal habitat, and wildlife migration corridors.
– The loss of prairie dog habitat would decrease the hunting ground for wildlife, including many threatened birds of prey.

4-601 A-4: The relationship to natural hazards
– The Cottontail Trail located directly below the property struggles with frequent flooding even after extensive mitigation

Other criteria are:
4-601 A-A.2: Is it compatible with the surrounding area.
– An urban development within a rural area is not compatible.

4-601 A-2: Size and height of structures.
There are two inflatable air dome structures, each 50 ft in height, equivalent in size to football fields and as tall as four stories.

4-601 A-2: Is there site disturbance, including any grading and changes to natural topography.
– Significant alterations to the terrain on a sloping hill will be required to level the area for the tennis courts. The submitted grading calculation is 55,000 CY.

4-601 A-2: Will it affect a unique location and environmental area, including scenic vistas.
– A well used BoCo Level 2 Public View Corridor will be lost.

4-601 A-3: Is it in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan.
– The development goes against the Comprehensive Plan.

4-601 A-8: Will it cause significant noise pollution.
– Increased traffic, use of facilities, air dome blowers, landscaping tools, and special events will significantly contribute to higher levels of noise pollution.

4-601 A-9: Will the use be adequately buffered or screened to mitigate any undue visual impacts of the use.
– The 50 ft inflatable air domes will be visible from a great distance..

4-601 A-10: Will the use be detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of inhabitants of Boulder County.
– Human Health and Ecological Concerns related to development.

Aside from the health impacts during construction activities due to soil particulate emission into the atmosphere when disturbing the soil, automobile exhaust emissions from tennis complex users could increase health concerns, especially for those who have pulmonary issues (e.g., asthma, COPD, etc.) and may live in the area or recreate on one of the many trails in the vicinity of the proposed tennis complex.

Construction of two large tennis bubbles requires a tensile (fabric) roof, which is usually coated with “forever chemicals,” also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to make the roof waterproof. Precipitation could lead to PFAS runoff from the roof, which could then soak into the soil and leach into groundwater below or continue downhill as surface water runoff, which could reach surface water in creeks and ditches below the proposed tennis complex, including the Boulder/Left Hand Ditch, Boulder/Whiterock Ditch, and Dry Creek. Once in surface water, PFAS could impact recreational users (e.g., neighborhood kids) who sometimes play in those water bodies, as well as ecological receptors (benthic invertebrates, fish). Impacted groundwater could become a human health concern if anyone in the vicinity is drinking the groundwater or using groundwater for irrigation. PFAS has multiple health effects, including kidney and testicular cancer, decreased birth weight, increased cholesterol levels, lower antibody response to vaccines, and pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia (ATSDR, 2024).

4-601 A-11: Will the use establish an appropriate balance between current and future environmental needs by minimizing the consumption and inefficient use of land.
– Covering land with impermeable surfaces will disrupt ecological balance, thus eroding the health and stability of a ecosystems.

4-601 A-12: Is there a relationship of the proposed development to natural hazards such as flood-prone areas.
– The Cottontail Trail located directly below the property struggles with frequent flooding even after extensive mitigation.

Boulder Comprehensive Plan

The Boulder County Comprehensive Plan was developed to respond to the widely accepted principle that the myriad of future land use decisions affecting the county’s lands should be made in a coordinated and responsible manner.

The BCCP philosophy is that:
– Growth should be channeled to municipalities.
– Agricultural lands should be protected.
– Preservation of our environmental and natural resources should be a high priority in making land use decisions.

Gunbarrel Open Space and Eastern Grassland Preserve

The Gunbarrel Open Space and Eastern Grassland preserve constitutes a large contiguous grassland habitat block that supports many native bird species and prairie dog colonies.

Native species in Gunbarrel Open Space

Black-tailed prairie dog: A keystone of the prairie ecosystem, whose presence is vital to the survival of many other wildlife species (BCPOS, 2022). It is listed as a species of special concern by the City of Boulder (OSMP, 2010). Over 95% of their habitat has been lost to development, and their life cycle needs are not compatible with many current human land uses. With the loss of prairie dog habitat, there is also a decline in many important associated species, like burrowing owls, hawks, and black footed ferrets (BCPOS, 2022).

Burrowing owl: Most frequently found using abandoned prairie dog burrows for shelter and nesting, they are sensitive to land fragmentation and human disturbance. They are listed as a species of special concern in Boulder County and recognized as a threatened species by the state of Colorado (OSMP, 2010). In 2023, there was only one successful fledgling in Boulder County and that was in the Eastern grassland preserve (OSMP, 2023). Nesting success is a direct measure of site quality, and successful nesting locations may indicate long-term commitment to an area because they tend to re-use nest sites where brood rearing was successful in the past (OSMP, 2010).

Other native species: Bald eagles, golden eagles, badgers, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, and red-tailed hawks are animals associated with intact prairie dog colonies. Many are very sensitive to human disturbance and are frequently found only in colonies distant from development and human disturbance. Raptor numbers have declined with the loss of colonies because of residential and commercial development. Research on open space lands has shown that blocks of grassland habitat more distant from urbanization are more likely to attract several of the raptor species (OSMP, 2010).

Download Gunbarrel Open Space and Grassland Preserve flyer here.

Over-Intensive Rural Development in Protected Area (Area III-Rural Preservation Area)

The area of the proposed development is located within a Boulder Valley Area III-Rural Preservation Area, where rural land uses and character are to be maintained and preserved.

An analysis may conclude that an otherwise permitted land use proposal could have an impact of urban intensity and be considered an over-intensive rural development.

Criteria for an over-intensive determination include:

  • Traffic
  • Structure Size
  • Number of Users
  • Hours of Operation
  • Outside Lighting
  • Water Needs
  • Wastewater Flows
  • Impacts that Extend Outside of the Property Boundary
  • Compatibility with Surrounding Land Use

Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan

Click here to Submit a letter to the Boulder County Planner