When Golden Mayor Laura Weinberg first joined the city council in 2014, one of the first issues residents brought up to her was their desire for an intergovernmental agreement that would create new …
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When Golden Mayor Laura Weinberg first joined the city council in 2014, one of the first issues residents brought up to her was their desire for an intergovernmental agreement that would create new rules for where and how School of Mines could build new structures in the city.
Over seven years later, Weinberg was one of seven city council members that unanimously voted on April 6 to approve two such agreements that address some — but far from all — of the goals expressed by residents when it comes to controlling future Mines development in Golden.
“It has been a long process with a lot of input and a healthy dose of patience,” said Weinburg. “But it is great to have something to vote on tonight.”
Campus construction control
According to city manager Jason Slowinski, the decision was made during the negotiation process to create one agreement dealing with new construction and a second dealing with campus operations, including the perpetual hot button issues of traffic and parking around campus. Both agreements will be in effect through the end of 2025 but could be extended if both the city and school agreed to do so.
Key provisions of the first agreement include the establishment of height and setback limits for any properties acquired along Washington Avenue and east of it.
Mines is also agreeing not to develop properties in the 12th Street Historic District located between the Mines campus and downtown, with the exception of the area surrounding the Maple Street tennis courts and requires Mines to follow US Secretary of the Interior standards if it wants to alter any buildings it purchases elsewhere in the city.
The agreement also outlines a community input process for any new construction Mines proposes in Golden that involves community meetings and input from the city but stops short of giving the city council veto power over any project.
A late addition to the agreement also states that Mines and the city will meet and attempt to resolve any disagreements about the nature of the agreement before taking legal action.
The second IGA, meanwhile, includes agreements that Mines will not utilize parking on 19th Street, Washington Avenue or any street to the east of Washington for students and staff and will try to minimize noise and light relating to campus operations between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Mines will also establish a staff point of contact for Golden residents to direct concerns and complaints about campus issues to.
During a discussion of the two agreements, several councilmembers acknowledged that many residents have expressed disappointment with the limited scope of the agreements compared to what many neighbors would like to see.
However, they also said the agreement is an improvement over the status quo, which has seen Mines asserting Golden does not have authority to regulate its usage of land in Golden because it is a state educational institution, while the city has maintained it does have that authority.
The first agreement states that it will not affect those positions, which both parties will be able to continue to maintain and seek to confirm in court if they choose.
“Even though it doesn't have kind of the bells and whistles a traditional win/win (agreement) architecture would have, it does have the opportunity for us (Mines and the city) to engage in a really meaningful way,” said Fisher.
Fisher said being able to prove that it has attempted to engage constructively with Mines is “probably the biggest card we can play down the road” if Mines decides to attempt to assert its stated position that it can ignore the city in court.
Councilman Casey Brown said that he was voting to approve the agreement despite the wishes expressed by some residents for more significant engagement because there already had been significant engagement.
He also said that it is his view that having an agreement where Mines agrees to some limits is better than not having one at all and that any ensuing discussion would be unlikely to change the nature of the agreement.
“The reason for that is its an agreement and it takes both parties to get to this point,” he said. “It may not be everything every neighbor would hope and dream for but it's important to recognize it does accomplish a whole lot.”
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