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Council rezones land near droneport to allow for research, development

The Eldorado Valley is changing, as the City Council approved rezoning part of it to allow for future research and development purposes, which includes a previously approved droneport with The Aerodrome LLC.

The zone change will allow and promote research and development facilities as needed through public and/or private ownership. The uses permitted through the zoning classification include, but are not limited to, energy generation, technology development and ancillary facilities.

To allow for this activity in a 50-acre portion of the Eldorado Valley, the Planning Commission recommended the new research and development zone. The City Council unanimously approved the zoning change during its Tuesday night meeting. Prior to the vote, it held a public hearing as well as amending the master plan future land use map to change it to manufacturing from open lands.

The land was previously zoned government open space and is part of the approved drone test range on city-owned land. It includes 5 acres that was used as a motocross track.

Community Development Director Brok Armantrout said the new zone is simple and modeled after the existing energy research zone. According to city documents, the reason for the simplicity is because activities in the zone will be subject to leases on city-owned land or joint-development partnerships with the city. Those agreements will include any detailed requirements for the parcels and their activities.

During the public hearing, several residents asked whether the City Council could make these changes without a public vote.

“Do we have the authority to do this?” Mayor Rod Woodbury asked the city attorney in response.

“There is a distinction between the recreational use between the (previous) motocross project and this one,” City Attorney Dave Olsen said. “The city was approached by them (motocross) because they wanted this out there. They wanted exclusive control about what it would be.”

The city was the landlord and the motorcross company was the lessee. The public had to vote on it because the city provided a commercial recreational lease in that area. The droneport is different because the city is not the landlord, he added.

“The city and developer are partnering in development,” Olsen said. “They will provide a public recreational use as well as commercial.”

“Does the lease need to be amended to address the this zoning change?” asked Councilman Rich Shuman.

No, because this is to enter into the lease, Olsen answered.

City Council members supported this project.

“I applaud what we are trying to do,” said Councilman Cam Walker. “I appreciate the businesses coming in.”

People have been flying this type of thing in the dry lake bed for 25 years. It’s not too different than what they are doing at the droneport now, said Councilman Duncan McCoy.

“I see this as a good use for a piece of property that has been a headache for the city for years,” he added.

“I agree it’s an appropriate use for that piece of land,” said Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt.

Woodbury believed the location and activity is a good fit for Boulder City.

It keeps away from the city proper in terms of noise and keeps it out of the way of the airport. We do need to be cautious though and make sure they are abiding the lease, he said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, City Council also:

■ Sent an ordinance that would require certain animals to be spayed or neutered back to staff to research exceptions for breeders, as well as for requirements when a pet is purchased at a store, and how the ordinance will be enforced.

■ Approved selling .31 acres of land to the Herman Family Trust for $95,625, which is its appraised value.

■ Approved an ordinance with the municipal airport that shifted the duties of supervision to the city manager or his designee.

■ Awarded a bid of approximately $1.1 million to Virginia Transformer Corp. for the Boulder City Tap Transformer and Breaker Replacements. The city received four bids, and this one was the lowest.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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