Busy night for town board
Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Berthoud Board of Trustees went later than usual as trustees heard several proposals for projects in town, received overviews of new architectural standards and individual guidelines, unanimously approved the adoption of the 2021 version of the International Property Maintenance Code and got a look at the draft 2022 budget.
During the public participation segment of the meeting, which ran nearly an hour in length, several Berthoud residents came forward to speak in defense of Trustee May Soricelli who, as published in a letter to the editor in this publication on Oct. 7, was herself the subject of an email sent by Trustee Jeff Hindman that was sent to the Thompson School District (TSD) Board of Education. The correspondence, which was printed in full in the Oct. 7 issue of the Surveyor, contained several personal attacks, and falsely represented statements made regarding Soricelli’s public participation as a parent of three TSD students at two school board meetings in September.
One Berthoud resident, Scott Slaugh, who spoke in support of Soricelli, called for Hindman’s resignation, “for the good of the town,” citing the correspondence in question as well as other issues from the past and “continued contention.”
Following public comment, Mayor Will Karspeck spoke in Soricelli’s defense, stating, “I did not feel Trustee Soricelli gave off the impression she was speaking for the (town of Berthoud) board in the (TSD) meetings.”
Soricelli repeated her contention that while speaking to the TSD board, that her participation in said meetings was in the role of a parent of TSD students. Hindman, who does not have children attending school in the TSD, defended the email stating it is part of public record as well as his actions throughout his 15 years on the board, cited his support for the TSD’s mask mandate and claimed he has been personally attacked by Soricelli in the past.
The board heard presentations from two artists, Tim Upham and Joshua Weiner, who submitted design proposals for large art displays at the roundabouts that will serve on the east and west sides of Highway 56 and I-25 interchange. The board was very complimentary of both proposals which fell within the $350,000 budget and, recording their preferences on scratch paper, the vote was 5-2 in favor Upham’s design. The board then formally voted unanimously, 7-0, to authorize town staff to contract with Upham for the project.
The board received a presentation from Mike Schroetlin of Schroetlin Custom Homes, LLC, regarding the old town hall building and adjacent feed store located at the Massachusetts Ave./Third Street intersection. The town wants to sell the property, which zoning allows for townhome-type residential type properties as well as light commercial, to a developer.
The town set forth several guiding principles including the design concept which includes an open-air plaza, a height of two to three stories, preserve the antique bank building on the eastern edge of the property, including some light retail and/or food/beverage establishments and remain in keeping with the “arts/creative uses that are currently located in this area of town.”
Schroetlin’s proposal calls for the purchase of the property for $250,000 and asking that all building permits, impact fees, any water, sewer fees and sales taxes to be waived. The presentation stated in part, “Without incentives and a reduced sales price, we do not feel that the numbers make sense to take on a speculative project like this in this location. The lower price and incentives would help us to offset the potential longer than normal leasing times.”
The initial design concept calls for a two-story flexible retail space, with an open-air plaza on the southern façade with four, three-bedroom, 2,200 square-foot townhomes with detached two-car garages with alley access on the northern side of the property.
The trustees appeared only lukewarm, but at the same time sympathetic, to the inclusion of the townhomes on the site but, according to Schroetlin, selling the residential space will go a long way towards assuring the development of the site is financially advantageous for the firm. The board voted unanimously to discuss further details of the design concept and offer feedback at an executive session next week.
The board voted 7-0 to endorse Berthoud Ballot Issue 6B, which would increase property taxes within the Berthoud Community Library District by $1,275,000 annually beginning in 2022 with small increases equal to inflation plus annual local growth to build a new, larger library.
Town Administrator Chris Kirk brought the board some good news regarding town finances while giving the initial rundown of the 2022 draft budget. Kirk explained, “From a big picture perspective, all of our funds are in good shape. Our revenue this year is out-pacing our budget numbers pretty significantly.” Kirk stated the town will budget conservatively but that priorities the board has set forth – such as budgeting aggressively for street and sidewalk maintenance and pursuing continued improvements to parks and recreation amenities – look achievable.
The next regular meeting of the Berthoud town board will take place Oct. 26.
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