Item Coversheet

Agenda Item - 10.C.

Agenda Memorandum

City Council Meeting
July  23, 2018

Beautiful, Desirable, Safe and Environmentally Responsible City
Councillor's Bill No. 27, An Emergency Ordinance Providing For a 12-Month Moratorium on the Acceptance of New Development Applications For Projects That Increase Sewer Demand in the Big Dry Creek Interceptor Sewer

Prepared By: 

Don Tripp, City Manager

David Frankel, City Attorney

Jenni Grafton, Acting Economic Development Director

Recommended City Council Action:
Pass Councillor's Bill No. 27 as an emergency ordinance to enact a 12-month moratorium on the acceptance of new development applications that increase the sewer demand for projects that flow into the Big  Dry Creek Interceptor Sewer.
Summary Statement:


  • The Big Dry Creek Interceptor Sewer (BDCIS) wastewater system is approximately 22-miles long and flows from Standley Lake to the Big Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility (BDCWWTF).


  • Engineering analysis of the BDCIS indicates that it is at risk of unacceptable failure due to age, condition, and insufficient capacity.  Failure of the BDCIS would present an unacceptable risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Westminster.


  • Additional engineering analysis indicates that the BDCIS does not have sufficient capacity to serve all of the development applications that the City has currently received.


  • The City does not provide a service commitment until the time of building permit issuance pursuant to Section 11-3-4 of the Westminster Municipal Code (WMC), and applicants with projects within the BDCIS area that are not subject to the moratorium who have not yet received a building permit shall be advised that sufficient capacity in the BDCIS may not exist to provide service commitments.


  • The proposed moratorium shall be temporary, reasonable in length, and no longer than required for the City to properly study and develop plans to address the threat to the BDCIS.  Owners and developers of real property in the area affected by the emergency ordinance will not be unfairly prejudiced by the imposition of the moratorium as proposed.
Fiscal Impact:

$0 in expenses.
Source of Funds:

Not applicable.


Policy Issue(s):


Should City Council enact a 12-month moratorium on the acceptance of new development applications that increase the sewer demand for projects that flow into the BDCIS and put it into effect immediately through emergency action?


  1. Do not proceed.  City Council may choose not to enact an emergency moratorium at this time.  However, this would be against the advice of legal counsel to use this as a means to a create fair and impartial system of allocating limited resources.

  2. Proceed with a moratorium for a shorter duration or lesser scope.  City Council may choose to revise the 12-month timeframe or the extent of the moratorium.  Staff and counsel do not recommend this option because it is based on the estimated time and scope necessary to properly study and develop plans that address the issues of the BDCIS system.  In the event that the study is completed sooner, the moratorium may be lifted by City Council.

  3. Proceed as proposed.  Staff has received legal counsel on the terms of the proposed moratorium and recommends this course of action as an equitable method for managing development applications during the time necessary to adequately study the BDCIS wastewater system and develop solutions.
Background Information:



Wastewater from approximately two thirds of the City flows through a large wastewater collection system known as the BDCIS.  This 22-mile wastewater system provides service to residents and businesses and generally flows north of West 92nd Avenue from Standley Lake to the BDCWWTF, as shown in Exhibit A.  The system consists of large pipes, also known as interceptors, ranging in size from 15 to 54 inches in diameter and conveys sewage for subsequent treatment at BDCWWTF.


An assessment of the BDCIS conditions and capacity was performed and documented in a report in 2012, which was updated in 2015.  This report confirmed that several segments of the BDCIS are reaching the end of their useful lifespan and/or have insufficient capacity to support continued development and redevelopment of the area.  Plans were made to initiate a BDCIS project over a multi-year horizon beginning in late 2018 with targeted completion by 2026.  However, the need for improvements has become critical sooner than anticipated with available pipeline capacity being consumed by the development that has occurred.  Flows have increased by approximately 40 percent since 2008.


The BDCIS system is now at a trigger point of risk that warrants both near-term mitigation measures, as well as longer-term expansion to support continued development.  Not addressing these system constraints is believed to compromise the health, safety, and welfare of the community with a level of risk that is not acceptable.  Therefore, an emergency situation is considered to exist until further action can be taken and a moratorium on new development applications is recommended.


Key Terms

The moratorium shall apply to the processing of new development applications, which, if approved, would increase sewer demand or flow into the BDCIS.  Under the terms of this moratorium, development applications shall mean applications for Preliminary Development Plans (PDPs), PDP amendments, Official Development Plans (ODPs), ODP amendments, and pre-application requests for the aforementioned as defined and/or used in the WMC.  It will not, however, apply to those existing approvals, accepted applications, or accepted pre-application requests that have been submitted prior to the effective date of this ordinance. 


For the duration of this moratorium, existing pre-applications, including those for which pre-application meeting requests were submitted prior to the effective date, will automatically expire and no longer be valid if the applicant fails to submit a completed PDP or ODP application within six months of the date of the pre-application meeting.  This provision is intended to offer some protection to applicants who have invested time and money in preparing plans while also limiting Staff time and available resources to those applications that are sufficiently developed to move forward for further review.


The moratorium imposed by this emergency ordinance will go into effect at 12:00 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, and shall expire no later than 12 months from this date.  In the event that information becomes available sooner which alleviates the need for the moratorium, it may be repealed.  It is also possible to modify the terms of the moratorium if changes are needed to adequately study the BDCIS system and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community.


Next Steps

During the moratorium, several parallel work efforts will occur.  First, an outside consultant will conduct a comprehensive study of the BDCIS system that will inform the design parameters, construction timeline, and service delivery for the entire affected area.  This study is anticipated to take approximately nine months from its start date.  City Council is also being presented with a request to approve a sole source contract for this purpose so that the work can commence immediately.


Also during this time, Staff from the Departments of Community Development, Economic Development, and Public Works & Utilities will meet weekly to explore technical solutions.  This "tiger team" will focus on opportunities to provide incremental relief throughout the system where possible, alternative design approaches at particular sites, resource conservation measures to reduce demand on the system, and strategic planning for necessary easements or land acquisition.  This team will remain open to innovative ideas and will work collaboratively to generate a range of solutions and accelerate progress.


Finally, Staff across these same departments will continue to process applications that are not subject to the moratorium efficiently and with a high level of customer service and in accordance with standard operational procedures.  Projects that do not increase the demand on the system will be able to move forward, so this group will work to achieve net neutral impacts on projects by improving efficiencies where possible.  This applies to tenant finishes or improvements on existing buildings and may take the form of an ordinance that would require ultra-low-flow plumbing fixtures or other conservation measures.  The goal is to provide opportunities to work with applicants to tailor appropriate and reasonable solutions.

Addressing the City's need to expand the capacity of the BDCIS wastewater collection system is a critical effort to maintain the necessary standards for the health and safety of the community.  The proposed moratorium on development applications in this area while the system is evaluated through a comprehensive study reflects a commitment to the City's Strategic Plan goal of maintaining a Beautiful, Desirable, Safe and Environmentally Responsible City.
Respectfully submitted,

Donald M. Tripp
City Manager
DescriptionUpload DateType
Councillor's Bill No. 27, An Emergency Ordinance Providing For a 12-Month Moratorium on the Acceptance of New Development Applications For Projects That Increase Sewer Demand in the Big Dry Creek Interceptor Sewer7/18/2018Ordinance
Councillor's Bill No. 27, Exhibit A7/18/2018Attachment