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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Town to consider forming urban renewal authority Public hearing set for Nov. 5

The Pagosa Springs Town Council will hold a public hearing on the consideration of forming an urban renewal authority (URA) on Nov. 5.
The hearing will be part of town council’s regular meeting that evening, which will be held at the Ross Aragon Community Center to allow for a larger-than-average crowd.
“We are encouraging everyone who has an opinion for or against the matter, or who just want more information, to attend,” Town Manager Andrea Phillips told The SUN in an email Tuesday.
At that meeting, a petition to form a URA that has been signed by registered electors of the town will be presented to council.
David Dronet, managing principle of The Springs Resort and Spa, submitted a petition to the town the afternoon of Oct. 2, Phillips explained.
That petition has 31 signatures, with a minimum of 25 registered electors of the town required by state statute “to consider whether there is a need to form the URA,” Phillips explained.
Those signatures are currently under review by Town Clerk April Hessman to affirm the signatures as valid.
“At this time, Council is only being asked to consider the petition to form an Urban Renewal Authority, not to adopt any specific area plan,” Phillips wrote. “Before approving the establishment of the Authority, the Town Council must make several findings, including that at least one or more slum or blighted areas exist within the Town, and that the development or redevelopment of the area is necessary in the interest of the public health, safety, morals or welfare of the residents of the municipality. If they do authorize forming the Authority, Council will need to appoint a board of commissioners to govern the Authority and carry out its statutory duties. Now that we received a petition, I will be informing the taxing entities and letting them know that they may want to consider making an appointment if it is formed.”
About URAs
URAs and urban renewal laws “allow municipal governments to engage in urban renewal projects as a means to improve blighted areas,” according to a Colorado Legislative Council Staff issue brief by Katie Ruedebusch.
Slum and blight conditions, that document explains, include:
• Deteriorating structures and deteriorating site improvements;
• Faulty street or lot layout;
• Unsanitary or unsafe conditions;
• Inadequate public facilities;
• Code violations; or
• Other distresses concerning property that are found within Colorado Revised Statute 31-25-103(2).
“Through planning and public improvements, urban renewal projects encourage the development of housing, mixed use, office parks, and industrial or retail land to revitalize areas,” the document explains.
If formed, a URA would have the same boundaries as the town, with any potential plans accepted by that URA having more specific, project-related boundaries.
Springs project and meeting
Representatives of The Springs and Jack Searle’s development firm, BWD, held another public meeting on Oct. 2 that was attended by two nonmedia members of the public.
At that meeting, Dronet and the BWD representatives discussed The Springs’ potential urban renewal project.
The Springs project proposes a multiuse development that would develop 27 acres of vacant land adjacent to the existing Springs footprint, with the proposed urban renewal project boundary including The Springs and a portion of Hot Springs Boulevard.
Plans for the 27 acres include a community plaza adjacent to the mother spring; a 50-unit hotel with retail, food and beverage; spa and bathhouse space; 20 bungalow-style lodging units; additional food and beverage space; an 8,000-square-foot greenhouse; office and events space; and 236 dwelling units comprising detached homes, townhomes and duplexes, and multifamily units.
To help fund the public infrastructure for the project, the developers are seeking tax-increment financing (TIF), which would allow them to be reimbursed for the costs of constructing public infrastructure through tax revenues generated on the site.
The developers have proposed including property, sales and lodging tax revenues in the TIF.
At the meeting, the representatives reviewed previous meetings, discussed the impact of catalytic projects and noted the development of the vacant property is identified as a catalytic project in the town’s comprehensive plan, the development process and URAs, and community benefits.
In discussing URAs at the meeting, BWD’s Rory Burnett explained there are currently more than 50 active URAs in Colorado, and more active urban renewal plans.

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