|Commissioner Casey Tighe
Jefferson County, District 2
I've just completed my first year on the Jeffco Board of Commissioners, and am excited to be entering my second year. Learn more about the work of the Board of Commissioners here.
I ran for Jeffco commissioner to assure efficient, accountable government that's responsive to citizen concerns. I have over twenty years of experience working from the inside out to make governmental entities more effective. As a longtime resident of Jefferson County, I am dedicated to preserving our great quality of life while building economic vitality.
Please feel free to contact me with your ideas and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-271-8525.
July 8, 2014
Last week, America celebrated its birthday. I was happy to spend some time with family and friends as we together remembers the great American values of freedom and democracy. I hope you had a little time to relax and watch some fireworks. We are truly fortunate to live in this great country.
My sons and I plan to take advantage of one of the long summer days this week and climb one of Colorado’s 14 thousand foot peaks. What a great way to celebrate the 4th, by getting out into the great Colorado mountains.
As usual there has been a lot going on the Jefferson County.
Slash Program. Last week the Board of County Commissioners approved a new expanded mobile slash program. The County Sheriff’s office planned to have three collection sites for people to bring their slash for disposal. That program will continue as planned, but the county just entered into a contract to have as many as ten more mobile sites this summer and fall. We want to encourage people, particularly in the mountain communities, to trim back their trees and bushes and create defensible space around their homes. It is very important to reduce the materials that fuel forest fires, and good defensible space around homes makes fighting fires safer for the fire crews.
By providing more sites, we hope it will be easier for people to drop off their slash. The material will be ground up at the mobile site and then taken to a location to be used as material for compost. It is great to be able to reuse this material and keep it out of the landfills.
Southwest Plaza. The owners of the Southwest Plaza Mall and the Town of Bow Mar asking have asked the County to support the possible annexation of the mall by Bow Mar. Not all of the details of the plan have been finalized but basically the town would annex portions of Sheridan Blvd. and Bowles Ave. to reach the mall and then annex the mall property. This type of annexation is often called a flagpole annexation because the Bow Mar’s town limits do not currently border any of the mall property.
It is important that we make a prudent decision on this issue because Southwest Plaza is an important part of the community and the corner of Wadsworth and Bowles one of the major intersections in the county. There are many questions surrounding this idea.
So why did Bow Mar and the mall owners propose this annexation?
It is not a secret that the mall has been going through some difficult economic times. The mall’s owner, General Growth Properties (GGP) is in the process of making a major investment to remodel the property. GGP is looking for additional support in these efforts from local governments, and cities have more legal options to provide financial incentives to businesses than counties.
GGP and the Town of Bow Mar intend to enter into a revenue sharing agreement to allow for more reinvestment into the mall. I was told that the tentative plan calls for a three percent increase in the sales tax with half of the revenue going to Bow Mar and half going to GGP to use on mall improvements.
Will the Bow Mar be able to provide services to support the mall and maintain Wadsworth and Bowles?
Bow Mar is asking the county to enter into an agreement in which the town pays the county to provide various services. The county would provide law enforcement, road maintenance, planning and zoning support, building inspections, etc. and then bill the Town of Bow Mar for the costs of these services. The town plans to use its portion of the new sales tax to pay the county for the billed service.
So what are the arguments in favor of this proposal?
Southwest Plaza is an aging mall that has not been able to attract many new businesses. Without changes to the mall, the decline is likely to continue. The mall is a meeting place and a key economic driver for South Jeffco. It is in the best interest of the citizens in the area to have a vibrant business district at this intersection. GGP believes that they need the support and revenue sharing of a city to implement the necessary changes to make this mall competitive and vibrant.
GGP also states that the neighbors of Southwest Plaza will likely not notice much change because Jeffco will continue to provide services. Government services for law enforcement, road maintenance and building regulations and inspections are already provided by Jeffco employees. Under the annexation proposal, Jeffco would continue to provide these services but now receive payment from Bow Mar.
Are there concerns with the proposal?
If this plan is approved by the County and the citizens of Bow Mar, there would likely be a three percent sales tax added to items purchased at the mall. The revenue from this tax would go to the mall owners and Bow Mar. It is anticipated that most if not all of the revenue would go infrastructure improvements in and around the mall, but I have seen specific revenue and cost projections.
The neighbors living next to the mall would no longer have a direct voice in what activities and types of construction allowed at the mall. Bow Mar would be making zoning and permitting decisions related to the mall (building heights, density, etc.) and these decisions will have direct impact on the south Jeffco neighborhood. Additionally, as time goes on, Bow Mar may have different views on regulatory activities at the mall, so it could become increasingly difficult for Jeffco employees to provide various services.
As with most complex issues there are pros and cons to this annexation idea. Last week I voted to provide initial approval of the annexation to allow the process to move forward. However, I amended the resolution to ensure that the matter comes before the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners again for a final vote. I need more information on the proposal and I want to hear what the citizens of Jefferson County think.
I will be at the Columbine Library on the afternoons of July 10th and July 24th from 3-5 p.m. to visit with citizens of south Jeffco and get your input on any issues facing the County including the possible annexation of South West Plaza. Please stop by and let me know what you think.
Jeffco 5. It appears the effort to get a ballot question on expanding the Board of County Commissioners has failed. The Jeffco 5 group was unable to get a sufficient number of signatures by the deadline to get the question added to the ballot. It is too bad the voters of Jefferson County will not be able to weigh in on this important question. I supported the Jeffco 5 effort and felt the voters should have been given the chance to decide if they want additional commissioners. In talking to people around the county I found general agreement on putting the question up for a vote, even from people that were not sure they supported idea of two more commissioners. The Jeffco 5 volunteers were a group of concerned citizens that wanted to make a difference. They were not part of a big political organization no were they funded by a large foundation, and they did not pay petition circulators to get signatures. They worked with volunteers only to gather signatures, but ultimately their organization was not large enough to get the over 17,000 valid signatures they needed.
This issue will not be on the ballot this year, but as Jeffco continues to grow the matter will continue to be debated for years to come.
Sustainability Commission. The Sustainability Commission met for the first time last week. The members of the commission are very accomplished and I am excited to see the work they accomplish. As with any new group, it will take some time to get organized and establish priorities. But it was exciting to see the energy and enthusiasm from the Commission members.
Again, I hope you had a happy and safe 4th of July Holiday.
Jefferson County Commissioner, District 2