Of all the various restrictions on development in Boulder, among the most impactful—and, to citizens, important—is the restriction on building height. Based on a joint study session between the Boulder City Council and the Planning Board last Tuesday, those restrictions may be changing.
The current height restriction regime is multilayered. Boulder’s charter restricts building height to 55 feet, except for buildings in the Twenty Ninth Street area. The city’s zoning ordinance further restricts building height to 35 feet in most of Boulder, to 38 feet downtown, and to 40 feet in industrial areas.
Up until April 2015, property owners could request a height modification of up to 55 feet. But that’s when the city adopted a two-year moratorium that barred the city from considering such a modification request unless the subject property is in a select few areas of the city, including Boulder Junction, the University Hill commercial district, the Armory site in north Boulder, Gunbarrel Community Center and Twenty Ninth Street. (Certain properties and projects were also exempted from the moratorium, including, projects with at least 40 percent affordable housing and sites with slope challenges that affect how height is calculated.) That moratorium is set to expire in April.
At the joint study session last week, four of the nine city council members supported extending the moratorium, and four others were unsure. Planning Board members were more strongly in favor of extending the moratorium but had not determined the exact terms of a renewed ordinance. The city’s interim director of planning, housing and sustainability indicated, however, that the groups did agree on this: “even if someone supports extending the ordinance, that there are some areas that it needs to be tweaked and amended.”