Town News

Catchup with Council, January 24, 2023 – Code amendments, financial planning and contracts for workforce housing, Slopeside Hall updates, Trails Master Plan update, and establishing a Frisco Arts Council

Code Amendments Discussion (January 17, 2023 Work Session)

Staff presented proposed changes to the Town’s Unified Development Code that could facilitate development of affordable housing, including a potential workforce housing overlay, and additions to the density bonus provisions already in the code.

The code amendments proposed would add a density bonus option for Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects. LIHTC projects require that the units are deed-restricted to an average of 60% AMI, but do not allow restrictions on where the occupants work.

The proposed code amendments would also add an Affordable Housing Development Incentive Program to create a set of incentives in the form of modifications to underlying zoning regulations for projects that meet specific deed-restricted housing thresholds. The program would be available for use for all properties in the gateway, central core, mixed-use, and residential -high, -medium and -low zone districts.

For projects that include affordable housing deed restrictions on a minimum of 50% of the units in the development, Council was in agreement about the proposed changes to items such as increased density in zones that do not currently allow bonus density, lowering the ratio requirements for commercial to residential in mixed-use zone district, landscape requirements, and lot coverage. Council wants to further discuss reducing parking requirements for workforce housing and changes to design elements like setbacks, building height, bulk plane, and architectural design requirements. As a next step, Council directed staff to take the proposed changes to the Frisco Planning Commission to gather further input, feedback, and ideas.  

Slopeside Hall at Frisco Adventure Park

Town Council discussed the budget and current estimates for the construction of Slopeside Hall and adjacent improvements at the Frisco Adventure Park. During the pre-construction phase, Town staff and the owner’s representative, DCS, worked closely with construction management/general contractor firm, AD Miller, to analyze the project site and establish a project estimate resulting from an extensive bidding process. The total project budget was estimated at just under $10.5 million, with 2.2 million in soft costs and 8.2 million in hard costs.

The total amount budgeted for this project in the Town’s five-year capital improvement plan is $10 million. As the cost estimate is over the $10 million budget, the project team is working with AD Miller to identify potential scope adjustments and value engineering measures to help close that gap. The project will span over two budget cycles, with $7.3 million allocated towards this project for 2023. Before planning for the 2024 budget, Town staff will report back to Council with the project budget status and a plan to close out the project within the budget.

The planning and construction of Slopeside Hall is a key component of the Peninsula Recreation Area (PRA) Comprehensive Vision & Project Implementation Plan adopted in 2020, following the identified need for a facility that would better accommodate Adventure Park operations by creating more space for youth programs such as “no school”, after school, and summer day camps in order to accommodate more children, as well as enabling Adventure Park and general recreation staff to move out of the temporary office space in the basement of the Day Lodge where they have been since the Day Lodge was built. During this meeting, Council directed staff to move forward with the originally budgeted $10 million for this project.

Financial Policies

Staff initiated a conversation around establishing formal financial policies to help protect Town assets and increase the overall financial health of the Town of Frisco.

While the Town has historically had an investment policy, adopted by resolution and reviewed annually, other financial policies in the adopted budget have not been formally adopted by resolution.

Comprehensive financial policies in the areas of cash handling, grants, and investments are central to a strategic, long-term approach to financial management by creating stability and continuity, clarifying intent, defining boundaries, supporting good bond ratings, and thereby, reducing borrowing costs, managing risks, complying with established grant requirements, and preventing loss.

Some key components of the recommended financial policies are described below:

1. Cash Handling: This policy documents best practices for normal cash handling procedures, as well as required steps in the event of loss or mishandling of funds.

2. Grants: Government grants frequently include special requirements that the recipient must follow regarding general operations of the grant, specific compliance rules, monitoring of other parties that may receive resources from the grants, timing, and specialized reporting requirements. A formal policy can help protect the Town’s ability to obtain grant funding to enhance the ability to provide more services and facilities to the Frisco community.

3. Investments: An investment policy describes the parameters for investing government funds and identifies the investment objectives, preferences or tolerance for risk, constraints on the investment portfolio, and how the investment program will be managed and monitored. The policy itself serves as a communication tool for the staff, Town Council, the public, rating agencies, bondholders, brokers, financial advisors, and any other stakeholders on investment guidelines and priorities. An investment policy enhances the quality of decision making and demonstrates a commitment to the fiduciary care of public funds needed to protect the Town’s assets.

Council directed staff to return with a resolution regarding the presented financial policies for approval on the consent agenda of the February 14, 2023 Town Council meeting.

Frisco Trails Master Plan Update

Staff shared an updated Frisco Trails Master plan for the purpose of gaining feedback and direction from Town Council on future priorities. The Frisco Trails Master Plan (FTMP) was adopted in 2017 to inventory and map existing trails, recommend future trails, determine areas in need of wayfinding and maintenance, address bicycle and pedestrian connectivity throughout town, and prioritize projects for effective implementation. Since the plan’s adoption, a great deal of progress has been made on implementing the various recommendations for hard and soft surface trail improvements throughout Town- including completion of the Complete Streets Plan, construction of the Highway 9 underpass between County Commons and the Adventure Park, completion of the Belford Street multi use pathway, the addition of Peninsula Recreation Area trails for summer and winter use, and start of the “Backyard” planning process for the Forest Service land southwest of Frisco (Mount Royal, Rainbow Lakes, Peaks Trail area and beyond).

In June of 2021, Council subsequently directed staff to update the FTMP to reflect completed projects, update community priorities, review impacts of increased visitation, and inventory existing signage and make recommendations for a consistent wayfinding plan. In February 2022, the Town contracted with SE Group to complete the FTMP update.

The update was organized around four key tasks:

1. Existing Conditions Update – This task was focused on identifying and evaluating completed projects, projects still in progress, and projects which are no longer feasible or desired. The outcomes from this task include updated maps and recommendations for new trails, connections, and other projects, including increased winter use of hard surface pathways and the potential impact of the Federal Government’s National Monument designation for the Ten Mile Range area in late 2022.

2. Community Priorities – This task included community engagement to reassess trail projects and priorities for the next five-years. An in-person open house and online survey were held to gain feedback on completed projects, new or needed projects, and a reassessment of community priorities. This includes an identified recommended primary route throughout town, which would be maintained year-round and would be signed as the easiest and most comfortable routes, as well as gaps in existing pathway connections.

3. Capacity Analysis – With increased visitation to Frisco area trails, this task focused on trailheads and trailhead access capacity and management. User intercept surveys were conducted at local trailheads to gain insight on where users are coming from, how they learned about the trail, and the impact of other users of the trails and trailhead on their experience. After evaluating some Frisco trailheads in July 2022, it was found that trailheads are getting to capacity on weekends but users are negotiating parking issues and reporting that the experience is still positive at this point.

4. Wayfinding Plan – This task focused on improvements to signage and wayfinding for path and trail users. Existing wayfinding was inventoried to identify gaps and issues. The plan update contains a new sign package including materials, siting, and construction recommendations, as well as a map with key destinations to guide sign locations.

Five high priority projects were identified as part of this public planning process: signage/wayfinding improvements, west Highway 9 infrastructure south from Basecamp, Granite Street improvements, roundabout sidewalks, and Exit 203 intersection improvements. 

The purpose of this work session was to provide Council with an overview of the findings from the above tasks, discuss next steps for adoption and implementation of plan priorities, and to hear general feedback on the findings and recommendations. Subsequently, Council directed staff to simplify the preferred route and include Highway 9 south from 8th Avenue into the proposed priority route, as well as working on pathway gaps such as those at the Adventure Park underpass, and noting bus stops on any map kiosk signage. Council directed staff to return the plan for adoption on February 14, 2023.

Housing Development Financial Plan Discussion

Staff provided an update on the continued evolution of the housing proforma (financial plan), with a particular focus on the next five years, as Council continues to pursue the goal of doubling the amount of workforce housing available. The goal is to ensure continued momentum towards a better balance of local workforce housing units in Frisco.

This financial plan is intended to be a fluid document that will become part of a more comprehensive action plan and will evolve as conditions change, new practices are introduced, challenges arise, and/or opportunities emerge. This plan projects dedicated revenue sources and related housing expenditures over the next 5 and 10 years and will help guide future budget decisions.

Over the past two years, staff has met with Town Council regularly to review the housing program goals, projects, funding, and opportunities. At the March 8, 2022 Town Council meeting, staff first presented a 10-year financial plan on how to achieve this goal and was updated in July 2022 to include changes that occurred between March and July 2022, such as the short-term rental excise tax, awarded grant funds, continued construction cost escalation, recent property acquisitions, and new potential projects. The overall housing development proforma was discussed again at the November 8, 2022 meeting, as Town Council was considering the potential of financing the construction of the Granite Park project. Therefore, the current proforma projects a goal of 436 workforce units by 2031.

2023 Nonprofit Grant Award Presentation

Frisco Town Council honored local non-profit organizations with a video presentation acknowledging the award of a combined total of $117,050 in cash grants and approximately $30,000 in in-kind donations to the 2023 grant recipients. Every year the Town provides an opportunity for non-profits to apply through a countywide grant program. Council choses to support many applicants, while considering several criteria such as benefit to Frisco and Summit County residents, past allocations, an organization’s results from Frisco supported programs, and alignment with Town of Frisco strategic goals. Council reiterated their gratitude to all the local nonprofits that continue to serve the community, and the presentation was done by video to allow for greater attendance.

Construction Contract Amendment for Granite Park Workforce Housing Project

Town Council approved a contract amendment with MW Golden Constructors for Construction Manager/General Contractor (CMGC) services for construction of the Granite Park housing project. Granite Park at 619 Granite Street is a collaboration between the Town of Frisco and CDOT.

  • The design includes 22 units in two buildings; each building is three stories tall- five (5) studio units, eleven (11) one-bedroom units, and six (6) two-bedroom units.
  • Units will be made available at affordable rent levels for CDOT employees (11 of the units) and for employees that work for other businesses in the Frisco area (11 units).
  • The design meets or exceeds all requirements of the Town Code and aligns with the established project goals, including affordability, in terms of both construction and long-term maintenance; maximizing the number of units; livability, particularly in terms of personal storage for tenants and parking availability; and sustainability.
  • The project is anticipated to break ground in May 2023, with completion of the project targeted for November 2024.

In May 2022, the Town entered into a contract with Diversified Consulting Services (DCS) for owner’s representative services to assist the Town and CDOT in management of the project. DCS recommended that the Town pursue services of a CMGC for the Granite Park project.

The services of a CMGC are split in to two parts: pre-construction and construction. Town Council approved a contract for the first phase of the CMGC contract with MW Golden Constructors (MWG) for pre-construction services at the October 25, 2022 meeting. During pre-construction, the contractor, owner’s rep, project architect, and Town and CDOT staff clarified project details and logistics to develop set prices for each part of the project to calculate a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for project construction.

In accordance with the terms of the pre-construction contract, MWG delivered a GMP in the amount of $12,279,678 on January 10, 2023. The 2023 budget includes $10,410,000 for construction of the project. An additional $2M is shown in the proposed 10-year proforma for the completion of the project in 2024. That amount is partially offset by a separate revenue line item for CDOT contributions in the amount of $3,530,000. After accounting for the value of the land and a $1.5 million grant awarded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), the Town portion of construction costs will be $7,122,567.

The updated construction schedule submitted with the GMP includes a construction start date in April 2023 with completion in November 2024. In addition, the GMP value is being used to set project financing and the cost share with CDOT. Under the agreement with CDOT, project costs are being split with the Town, with the value of the land being applied to CDOT’s share of project costs.

With the completion of pre-construction services, Town Council approved going forward into the second phase of the CMGC contract through construction completion with MW Golden Constructors.

Financing Granite Park

Town Council approved Ordinance 23-03 on first reading, which authorizes the approval of the documents required to issue the 2023 Certificates of Participation (COPs), which in turn will finance the construction of Granite Park. The ordinance will create a “lease-lease back” mechanism of funding by leasing the underlying property (Granite Park) to the Trustee (typically a large bank) for 30 years. The Trustee will remit to the Town the entire lease payment up front, an amount approximating $7.2M at which point the Town will use a portion of revenues received through unit rentals to repay the estimated $7.2M, plus interest, over 20 years, paid in semi-annual payments. Once the Town has paid the trustee all of the original amount borrowed plus the agreed interest, the lease + lease back arrangement is terminated, and the municipality gets its property back free from any encumbrance caused by the COPs.

  • The ordinance also sets a top limit of 5% for the interest to be paid on the 2023 COP to account for the uncertainty of the interest rate but is anticipated that the interest rate will be under 4%.
  • The maximum annual repayment cost of base rentals payable by the Town shall not exceed $580,000, and the total repayment cost shall not exceed $11,600,000;
  • The aggregate principal amount of the Base Rentals payable by the Town under the lease with respect to the Certificates shall not exceed $7,300,000; and
  • The purchase price of the certificates shall not be less than 98% of the aggregate principal amount.

Establishing a Frisco Arts Council

Town Council passed on second reading an ordinance to establish a Frisco Arts and Culture Council (FACC). The formation of the FACC is a key element of Frisco’s 5-Year Arts and Culture Strategic Plan adopted by resolution during the January 10, 2023 Council meeting. The FACC will be tasked with making recommendations about arts and culture programming, testing the feasibility of arts and culture programs in the plan, and implementing those plan programs when determined to be in alignment with the Town’s goals and budgetary considerations.

Town Council will appoint the seven-member Arts and Culture Council through an application and interview process and at least five of those members must be Frisco residents. To offer ample opportunity for a diverse range of people to serve on this council, members will serve three-year terms after initial staggered terms, and members may serve no more than nine years. Once established, the FACC will be supported by two Town staff members who will act as a conduit between the Arts & Culture Council and other Town staff, as well as Town Council when needed, in order to assist in guiding decisions regarding Town resources and public art acquisitions within the proposed yearly budget and Town purchasing rules. For the second reading ordinance now suggests, rather than requires, that one Town Council member may be appointed as a liaison with voting rights and includes removal of language around sustainability and quality of life in chapter 43-1.

The Frisco Five-Year Arts and Culture Plan maps out a five-year strategy to enable the implementation of arts and culture programming in Frisco that supports the community’s character, vision, and creative community, as well as goals and budgetary priorities. In addition to the FACC, highlights of the plan include a focus on opportunities for youth, identifying and filling gaps in arts and culture programing in Summit County, and supporting mental health through programming that encourages community attachment. Staff is preparing an application for the Arts and Culture Council, which will be released in the next 10 days.

Sales Tax Code Updates – Second Reading

Council approved on second reading of an ordinance to update the sales tax code to allow the Town to remain consistent with ongoing changes in legislation and new technology found in Colorado State statutes. These revisions to the code, which include new and updated definitions, aim to provide clarification on current policy and add practical exemptions to the code. Some items of note, which have been proposed for sales tax exemption at the State level, are diapers, feminine hygiene products, retail delivery fees, and disposable bag fees. These State of Colorado tax exemptions are effective as of January 1, 2023. For clarity, the Town of Frisco does not currently charge sales tax on the $.25 bag fee, although it is currently not clearly exempted in the Town’s code.

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.