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Board of Zoning Adjustment Envision 2030 Responses

The Board of Zoning Adjustment met on July 9, 2020 and gave the following answers to the SWOT questions provided.

STRENGTHS

  • What are a few of the BZA’s greatest achievements over the last decade?
    • Theme: Minimal variance requests over the last decade
      • Very few variance requests and minimal disputes.
      • The BZA has met and made positive rulings every time there has been a request.
      • The BZA in collaboration with the PC and BOT has helped to improve and clarify the Town building codes, decreasing the number of variance requests.
    • Training by the Town Attorney and Jefferson County.
  • What are some of the BZA’s most valuable assets?
    • Theme: Staff and board knowledge, experience and expertise
      • Cynthia Bakke, Deputy Zoning Administrator, is able to head off variance requests by being transparent with property owners and letting them know prior to purchasing a property would might require a variance. Bakke also educates applicants to the five points of criteria that need to be met.
      • Staff recommendations are helpful prior to discussing the application. Their perspective if greatly appreciated.
      • Experienced members with seasoned abilities to think through BZA issues, as well as new members who bring enthusiasm and fresh perspectives.
      • BZA board members are able to easily interact with Town staff who help to make the process work accurately and smoothly.
    • Complete and comprehensive information allow the BZA to make good decisions that are rarely challenged.
    • An ordinance was passed within this past decade that clarified the guidelines requiring all five conditions be met.
    • The BZA is set to meet quarterly but meetings typically are canceled because there are no applications to review. Historically the BZA met monthly.
  • What makes the Nederland BZA unique?
    • That we have a separate BZA for a town with only 715 structures.
    • Nederland is a mountain community with odd shaped and non-conforming lots with interesting terrain which makes for unique cases.

 

WEAKNESSES

  • What have been the BZA’s biggest challenges over the last decade?
    • The BZA has come close to being short members.
  • What are some of the disadvantages of being a small mountain community as it relates to the BZA?
    • Because everyone knows one another, disputes can be acrimonious and personal. When people know BZA board members, applicants often assume that their relationship will help to get extra consideration in favor of their request.
  • What should be the BZA’s main focus area for immediate improvement?
    • Theme: Training BZA members so they are more familiar with the municipal code.
      • All BZA members should become more familiar with code and previous cases that have come before the Board.
      • Annually the BZA needs to discuss and be reminded of the purpose and roll of the board.

 

OPPORTUNITIES & THREATS

  • What programs, services or amenities could the BZA offer today that aren’t currently available?
    • Theme: Online resources for BZA and public:
      • A “case-book” of what has come to the BZA within the last 10 years that outlines what the issues were and the resolutions. Make this information available to the public through the website.
      • Have the meeting minutes accessible on the website, including the ability to make the document searchable.
    • The BZA has an opportunity for members to really help citizens who request variances, as well as neighbors and the Town as a whole as variances enhance properties, usually enhances a neighborhood/Town as a result of enhancing that property, and helps clean up past mistakes such as the crazy plating of Big Springs or Old Town.
  • What resources does the BZA lack?
    • No responses received for this question.
  • What obstacles does the BZA face?
    • The variance criteria have usually provided a good structure and concrete guidance for BZA decisions, but there still have been some “interpreting” attempts, especially when the Town vision is brought in, in particular around the uses of solar power and other “green” proposals are involved.
    • More reliance on computer/internet technology, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which can be challenging for individuals who are not technologically savvy and can devastate productivity and efficiency.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

  • Is there anything else you’d like the community to consider as we move forward with Envision 2030?
    • The BZA and Envision 2030 should be separated and the BZA should only focus on the Nederland Municipal Code 16-231 – 34
    • Short term rentals distort the local rental market in a town where 40% of our residents rent. The trade-off of property ownership rights vs. the need for adequate long-term rental stock will affect who can live in Nederland and who cannot, as well as the character of the town.
    • Needing focus are downtown development.
    • Annexation of surrounding property.
    • The BZA needs to know the sentiments of all residents, not just the subset who come to BOT meetings. We are all tactics, and no strategy. Strategy gives the citizen boards context and direction, with the support of a majority of our residents.
    • Would like the Town to look into ways to hold hybrid meetings that allow people to call in and participate still.