Town News

Catch Up With Council, March 26, 2024 –  Lake Hill Water Approved, Dark Skies, Outdoor Energy Use, Outdoor Water Use Restrictions, & More

Liquor Licensing Change Discussion

Frisco Town Council, through adoption of Ordinance 89-28 on November 21, 1989, established that a business with a liquor license must be at least 250 feet from schools. Questions and concerns have recently arisen concerning this restriction and whether the distance limitation of 250 feet between liquor licensed facilities and schools remains the preferred public policy option, given the expansion of the population of the Town over the last 35 years, the relative lack of areas available for liquor-licensed facilities in a town that is 1.89 square miles, and the significant national changes to more vigorous liquor enforcement over the past 30+ years.

On the question of the appropriate distance between a liquor licensed facility and a school or any of the other uses listed in the Town’s Code and in State statutes, staff n oted that the State statute allows Town Council to eliminate those distance limitations, if desired. Staff sought direction from Council as to whether the distance limitation should stay the same, be reduced in some measure, or be eliminated entirely. Council considered the potential impact on students and determined that the proximity of businesses serving alcohol to schools does not present a risk to students so they have directed staff to return to a future meeting with an amendment to the ordinance which would eliminate this distance restriction.

Dark Skies Discussion

Local dark sky advocates reached out to Town staff in 2023 to encourage the Town to consider pursuing an International Dark Sky Community certification through DarkSky International. Several mountain communities, including Crestone, Ridgway, and Westcliffe, are certified. Other municipalities are working on their certification, including Breckenridge, Estes Park, and Durango.

Town staff met with local dark sky advocates in January 2024 to learn more about the certification and potential paths forward. Given the requirements involved in certification, staff concluded that an outreach and education campaign encouraging voluntary compliance would be a good place to start.

A DarkSky certification would involve additional regulations on outdoor lighting and require all lighting in the Town to come into compliance within 10 years and all municipal/public lighting within five years. To pursue a certification, the first step would be to submit a request to join the DarkSky International application “pipeline,” costing $250. Once in the pipeline, the Town would be eligible for technical assistance from the State of Colorado and the non-profit, DarkSky Colorado.

At the March 26, 2024 work session, Town staff sought feedback from Council regarding a proposed outreach campaign and strategy for promoting dark-sky lighting. The staff report outlined specific discussion points, which included a three step approach recommended by staff:

  1. Embark on an education and outreach effort
  2. Include consideration of dark sky efforts as part of the comprehensive plan which is about to launch
  3. In the future, consider code changes to support dark sky efforts

Council gave direction to enforce current code around outdoor lighting, to go forward with education and outreach, to incorporate dark sky considerations in the comprehensive plan, and to move forward with the DarkSky application to start getting the needed technical support. Code changes would come later, as needed.

FIRC Additional Funding Request

The Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) met with Town Council to request an additional $100,000 in funding, to be paid over two-year period, to address food insecurity in Summit County. FIRC is able to turn that $100,000 investment into $500,000 in food for residents in need. Local residents have seen a 64% increase in rental costs since 2019, resulting more resources going to housing and less being available for other basic needs, including food. Therefore, one in ten Summit residents are currently facing food insecurity.

Community Food Markets provide options for fresh, healthy, and nutritious food; while also helping families stretch their budgets, save, and connect. According to the 2023-2024 community food report, there was a 60% increase in Community Food Market visits from 2022-2023. The current cost to meet the demand for fresh food in Summit County is $1,067,648, and there is currently a $300,000 deficit in FIRC’s budget to meet that need which is why FIRC is requesting assistance from the Town of Frisco.

Town Council gave staff direction to support this request for funding and asked staff to bring back a budget amendment to enable this funding.

Renewable Energy Mitigation Program

Town Council adopted the Summit Community Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2019. This plan outlines a series of strategies and recommendations to achieve 80% greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 across major sectors which include commercial buildings, residential buildings, transportation, and waste. Energy use for buildings in Frisco accounts for 72% of our community’s greenhouse gas emissions, split nearly evenly between commercial (50%) and residential (48%) energy use (municipal energy use makes up the remaining 2%). The CAP further reinforced the Town’s goals of achieving 100% renewable electricity across the community by 2035 and began the conversation around net zero construction and decarbonization of heating sources. The most prevalent heating source in Frisco is natural gas, which is primarily comprised of methane, and when burned, emits carbon dioxide.

In spring 2020, the Town adopted an updated Sustainable Building Code to address building sector energy use. For residential construction, the code requires certification by the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program. For commercial construction, the code requires a 10% efficiency standard above the most recent commercial energy requirements. During the 18-month stakeholder process for the Sustainable Building Code, one of the overwhelming comments from the group was “what do we do to reduce excessive outdoor energy use?”

The Town regulates indoor energy use via the adopted international building and energy conservation code and Summit Sustainable Building Code. These codes do not address outdoor energy efficiency, which can be significant, as just in 2021, 23,000 square feet of snow melt were added in the Town. The Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP) is designed to reduce excessive outdoor energy use through economic incentives and direct on-site mitigation by renewable energy to offset energy use for residential hot tubs, pools, snowmelt, firepits, and heat tape, and commercial hot tubs, pools, snowmelt, firepits/radiant heaters, and heat tape. As a policy priority listed in the Summit Community Climate Action Plan, REMP has been under development and discussion since 2020. The REMP steering committee, comprised of representatives from local governments, energy professionals, designers, builders, and businesses met six times between December 2020 and September 2021. Breckenridge Town Council started discussing REMP in summer 2021 and after several more work sessions and additional public outreach, adopted the policy in summer 2023. For ease of community and contractor understanding, the policy presented at this March 26 work session is the same as the policy implemented in Breckenridge.

Town Council discussed the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program, and High Country Conservation Center reiterated that this would apply to new installations or expansion of existing installations only and that Towns can choose to exempt systems if they are required for public safety. Council also discussed lessons learned in Breckenridge and the need to provide property owners with REMP info very early in the development process so that owners can make decisions very early in the project. Town Council asked staff to move forward with this and bring it back to adopt into Town Code.

Belford Alley Right-of-Way

The Public Works Department, in collaboration with the Community Development Department, have been working to enforce code compliance in Town rights-of-way. The alley between Belford and Pitkin Streets currently contains two privately owned sheds and landscaping which have not been permitted and are owned by the residents of 792A and 792B Pitkin Street. The sheds and landscaping were constructed several decades ago by previous owners of 792A and 792B. This section of the right-of-way is currently unimproved, not used by the Town, and there are no plans at this time to use or improve this section of right-of-way. Initially, Town Staff discussed requiring the removal of the sheds from the right-of-way, but after additional analysis, a revocable license agreement was recommended by staff. The Town executes revocable license agreements to allow private use of Town rights-of-ways, while also protecting the Town’s rights and ability to remove encroachments and utilize rights-of-ways in the future.

The current encroachments (sheds and landscaping) are not impacting Town operations or current use of the right-of-way. Although the Town would not permit new construction of sheds in Town rights-of-way, these two sheds are existing, not on foundations, and were constructed several decades ago by previous owners. Due to these specific conditions, Town staff recommended that a revocable license agreement (RLA) should be executed instead of requiring removal of the encroachments. The RLA will require the owners to remove materials and equipment currently located outside the shed, require all maintenance of the landscaping and shed to be the responsibility of the owners, release the Town of any liability if the encroachments are damaged, and allow the encroachments to be removed in the future if desired by the Town. Execution of RLAs for these properties are specific to these sites and conditions listed above and would not establish a precedent for approving further encroachments by these properties, or any other properties, into Town right-of-way.

Town Council approved the revocable license agreement with both homeowners.

Lake Hill Water Service Approval

In 2023, the approval of Ordinance 23-05 modified Chapter 171 of the Town code, introducing an application process for extraterritorial water taps. The revised process mandates that potential water users outside the Town of Frisco submit a written application, commit to water rights dedication, furnish a written will-serve letter from Frisco Sanitation District, and adhere to other conditions stipulated in the ordinance. Town Council has the authority to approve or deny the application or to approve the application with conditions, in each instance guided by the “best interest of Town residents”. Additionally, the ordinance states that Council will consider whether the request will result in detrimental secondary impacts to Town or its residents. During recent meetings, Council and staff discussed the extraterritorial water application for Lake Hill, impacts from the development, and subsequently, potential conditions for a Lake Hill water service intergovernmental agreement (IGA).

The proposed IGA will provide water taps (EQRs) for 436 deed restricted workforce units in the Lake Hill neighborhood. The agreement does not obligate the Town to any additional EQRs above the 436 units. The IGA requires conditions regarding the water extension and mitigation of determinantal and secondary impacts in accordance with Chapter 171 of the Town Code. In the Lake Hill water agreement, Town Council has also included mitigation measures addressing traffic volumes, traffic safety, transit service, walkability, operations agreements, timing of amenities at the Lake Hill site, some recreation amenities, and more to anticipate future needs created by the development. These conditions are required at different stages of the development (prior to issuance of any EQRs, at a certain percentage of EQR issuance, and post-construction ownership/maintenance conditions) to ensure Town requirements are satisfied and Town impacts are mitigated. The agreement also included a future impact study conducted by Summit County, that will measure the true impact of the development at the issuance of 90% of the requested water. 

Town Council approved Resolution 24-19 approving the IGA.

Unified Watering Restrictions

Chapter 171, Article V of the Frisco Town Code establishes a four-phase water conservation and water use restriction system for the Town of Frisco. The water conservation phases are based upon the need to conserve water as determined by the level of water flow in North Ten Mile Creek, by the average yield of the Town’s water wells, or by a combination of the two.

The current Code defines two zones for water use, a “North Zone” that consists of all land served by the Town’s water utility system that is north of Main Street and a “South Zone” that consists of all land served by the Town’s water utility system that is south of Main Street. Watering times in the Town are defined by these zones.

Town Staff have been working with High Country Conservation Center (HC3) and other jurisdictions in the County to align with recent research and community outreach on water conservation. HC3 is recommending a unified watering schedule across Summit County to improve compliance with statewide water conservation standards. Participation in a Growing Water Smart workshop identified that “time of day/week requirements are the low hanging fruit of water conservation and efficiency.” HC3 worked with a graduate student to conduct extensive research and community outreach and found that:

  • Unified schedules, even if voluntary, set a baseline for future conservation measures, such as separate landscape meters, minimum efficiency standards, and limiting turf
  • A unified irrigation schedule reduces confusion and increases compliance
  • Legislators and administrators responsible for resource conservation benefit from establishing a common system that may be adjusted in times of drought
  • Several landscapers contacted by HC3 support countywide consistency
  • A unified irrigation schedule exemplifies collaborative resource management

To unify watering schedules across Summit County, HC3 proposes the following schedule:

  • If the last full number in address is even, then residents may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays overnight from 6:00pm – 9:00am
  • If the last full number in address is odd, then residents may water on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays overnight from 6:00pm – 9:00am

Town Council approved Ordinance 24-07 on the second reading.

Frisco Town Council Meetings: Ways to Participate

Frisco Town Council meetings are available to view via Zoom and YouTube, and are also held in person to make Town Council meetings easier to access for everyone.

The public can provide comment during meetings via Zoom or in person (not YouTube), and a public comment period will be available at 7:00pm; during the consideration of ordinances; and at the discretion of Town Council during work session items, which are discussions that don’t require a formal vote by Town Council and do not require public comment. Again, this hybrid approach is intended to make Town Council meetings more accessible, and meeting recordings will typically also be made available the day after a meeting in the meeting archive with agenda topics bookmarked to the discussions in the video.