Lamar Council Discusses Tiny Homes Regulations, Accepts Brownsfield Grant

Pond at North Gateway Park


The Lamar City Council, under the June 27th consent agenda, approved Ordinance No. 1523 which amends the Lamar Municipal Code, encouraging the residents to enjoy and safely use North Gateway Park.  The body of the ordinance pertains to an off-leash area for dogs at the park and use of a future designated archery range.  Ordinance No. 1254 was also passed and sets a program for identifying and registering vacant commercial buildings and provides for the responsibilities of owners of vacant buildings and structures as well as to work to speed the rehabilitation of those properties.  Ordinance No. 1255 annexes the Farm Credit of Southern Colorado property at 1301 East Olive Street into the boundaries of the City of Lamar.

Kristin Schwartz, City Treasurer provided an update to the council on the disposition of the second half of the ARP (American Recovery Project) funds. “They’re ready to be released and we’ve been in contact with the Department of Local Affairs (DoLA) on the necessary forms.”  She also said the online, city equipment auction, conducted by a firm called Purple Wave went well with the city selling approximately $69,000 worth of used materials and equipment.

City Administrator, Rob Evans, set July 13th as a future date for his Coffee with Rob, 7am sessions for the general public at Dunkin Donuts.  Wednesday, July 20th will be held at the city’s Public Works office on North 2nd Street and the 27th of July will be held at the Administrator offices in the City Complex.  “We want to be able to show residents a view of how the city operates from the employees’ side of things and residents can learn how some of the departments go about their business, serving the city,” he explained.  The council set Wednesday, July 6th for the 7am quarterly breakfast at the Lamar Truck Plaza.  City offices will be closed for the 4th of July on Monday and the annual fireworks display will not be held due to local fire hazard/drought conditions.  Evans said the city will take a look at either a show in which drones can perform like fireworks in the sky or even a laser show could be considered.

Evans offered the city’s position to decline participation in the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMLI) program.  If the city decided to use the program, every city employee would have automatic deductions taken from their pay starting in 2023, regardless of whether they believe participation would be the right choice for their family, given the cost and other time off benefits already provided by the City.  However, employees would still have the right to take part in the program if they choose.  By adopting Resolution No. 22-06-02, the city declines participation in the program.

Former city councilwoman, Bev Haggard, is the city’s liaison to the Ports to Plains Alliance, an amalgam of states working to provide a safe and speedy highway corridor connecting cities on a route between Mexico and Canada.  She visited the Port of Laredo, TX recently for a first-hand view of how 7-8,000 semi trucks cross the border into the U.S. a day.  She said trucks are scanned, inspected and even x-rayed to ensure that no illegal materials are brought into the country.  “One x-ray showed that a load of cinder blocks contained pounds of cocaine and it was detected because the middle portion of the blocks were scanning darker that others and when they investigated the load, they found the illegal drugs,” she explained.  The Port operates 18 hours a day with 250 employees.  Haggard added that a $27M highway project providing six additional miles of passing lanes between Wiley and Kit Carson continues construction.

Tiny Homes is a national concept for downsized living quarters that has gained popularity due to the cost of home rent/ownership.  The council discussed with Craig Brooks, City Building Inspector, a list of proposed Tiny Home regulations submitted by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for possible future implementation.  The regulations stipulate a permanent foundation of either a concrete wall, block wall or monolithic pour.  The residence would have a minimum square footage of 400 square feet with one room at least 120 square feet, be tied to the city’s sewer line, as well as water and electricity, be able to withstand a 30-pound, ground snow load, withstand 100 mph winds and be mobile home zoned only.  No homes would be allowed to be on wheels and councilman Manuel Tamez suggested 600 square feet be considered a minimum requirement.  No action was taken as the discussion was for information purposes only.

The council accepted the $500,000 EPA Brownsfields Assessment Grant which will help fund the identification and assessment of properties for asbestos in the community.  The grant was submitted in November, 2021.  Amtrak has been mandated to upgrade ADA improvements for its station in Lamar.  Lamar is one of 500 such stations in the country which has been designated.  The upgrade consists of installing an ADA Entrance Identifier sign and some sidewalk upgrades.

The Lamar Board of Public Safety gained a new member with the appointment of Adele Harmon to a term expiring in 2024.  Last year, the city created an advisory Board of Public Safety which consists of five members including Gerry Jenkins, representing the council.  One position remains open.

Daniel Neuhold submitted the lone bid to provide janitorial services to the Colorado Welcome Center.  The city approved his bid of $700 per month which marks the 11th year he has provided these services.  Neuhold is reimbursed by the State of Colorado.

Lamar Police Chief, Kyle Miller, said last week’s Friday with the Force at Willow Creek Park went well.  “We served a lot of nachos and ice cream with about 100 people on hand,” he said, adding that kids enjoyed the free swim in the pool and about 75 people lingered into the evening to watch a family-oriented movie on the portable screen in the park.

Morgan Alba, Executive Director of LPI, Lamar Partnership Incorporated, said the city will apply for a $10,000 SECOG grant to be used to replace the flower planters that have been vandalized over the past several years.  The grant is a 50-50 match with the city.  The planters, mostly along Main Street, have been pushed over, struck by cars and some have been set on fire.  The planters were paid for through various grants as well as their seasonal upkeep.  Unused funds will be kept in reserve if there is a need to replace additional planters.

The council went into executive session to receive legal advice on specific legal questions under C.R.S. Section 24-4-402(4)(b).
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: Chamber of CommerceCity of LamarConsumer IssuesEconomyFeaturedHealthRecreationUtilities


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