5. Open Space Program
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OPEN SPACE PROGRAM
13-5-1: POLICY STATEMENT
13-5-2: CRITERIA FOR ACQUISITION
13-5-3: PRESERVATION OF LAND
13-5-4: REDESIGNATION OF PROPERTY
13-5-5: USAGE OF OPEN SPACE FUNDS
13-5-6: MANAGEMENT OF OPEN SPACE PROPERTY
13-5-7: MAINTENANCE OF OPEN SPACE PROPERTY
13-5-8: DONATIONS TO OPEN SPACE PROGRAM
13-5-9: UTILITIES AND RIGHT OF WAYS
13-5-10: STATEMENT ON DEED
13-5-11: ENFORCEMENT OF APPLICABLE RULES AND ORDINANCES
13-5-12: POLICIES FOR NON-OPEN SPACE USE OF OPEN SPACE PROPERTY
13-5-1: POLICY STATEMENT: (1855 3455) The objective of the Open Space Program is to promote quality of life for citizens of Westminster through the preservation and protection of the quality of the natural environment which has given Westminster much of its character. This natural environment includes many spectacular views to the foothills and mountains, which can be enjoyed from the hills and sloping sites that make up the City's predominant land form. The natural streams and man-made canals and ponds and related plant and animal communities complement the scenic vistas and remind us of the area's early history. These natural areas, water bodies, tremendous vistas and panoramas, characteristic terrains and native flora and fauna are intended to be preserved and protected for the enjoyment of this and future generations by the judicious use of those sales tax dollars designated for the Open Space Program.
As Westminster continues to grow, open spaces should be provided and woven into the fabric of the City. These open spaces may define developed areas within the community, and in certain areas may define the boundary of the City. They are intended to obtain a balance and harmony between physical development and open space for the benefit of Westminster citizens. Preservation of open space in all parts of the City will foster appreciation of the natural environment, provide increased opportunities for passive recreation, and improve the quality of life.
13-5-2: CRITERIA FOR ACQUISITION: (1855 3455) The following six major criteria shall guide the selection of specific sites for possible acquisition and preservation. Prospective open space property shall satisfy at least one of these criteria:
(A) AESTHETICS: Unique or dramatic visual impact; protection of scenic view corridors; visual enhancement of primary transportation corridors; unique view from site; natural features that enhance quality of life (e.g., rock formation, body of water, trees).
(B) PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION: Protection of environmentally sensitive features (e.g., wetlands, trees, native grasses, wildlife and wildlife habitat, floodplain).
(C) LOCATION: Spatial definition of urban area; protection of sole remaining undeveloped land within large developed area of City; geographical distribution throughout City; key link or extension/addition to existing park/open space area; proximity to existing or proposed urban shaping and open space buffers; access; large number of potential beneficiaries.
(D) USE POTENTIAL: Ability of the land to be used for passive recreational purposes including trail linkages; potential secondary benefit to community (e.g., watershed protection, drainage, or regional detention areas, water wells, erosion control, public safety, floodplain preservation, solitude, noise buffer, ancillary historic preservation); continued agricultural production.
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(E) NEED FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION: Development pressure; development status; potential to remain as open space; attitude of property owner.
(F) ACQUISITION CONSIDERATION: Availability of land; ease of acquisition; price of land; significance of economic loss to City; potential for increase in price in the near future; potential for acquiring other sources of funds.
13-5-3: PRESERVATION OF LAND AND OTHER OPEN SPACE USES: (1855 3455)
(A) Generally, lands acquired with open space funds shall be preserved and managed in a natural condition. Such lands might include scenic vistas, floodplains, trail corridors, farm lands, highly visible natural areas along arterial streets and open space buffers at the City's perimeter. Open spaces will generally be open for passive public use and enjoyment, and trails will be developed where possible to provide access. Examples of compatible passive recreation include hiking, nature study and photography.
(B) Additional activities that may be allowed on certain open space property, or portions thereof, after the City Manager determines such activities will not have a detrimental effect on the natural qualities for which the open space was originally acquired include fishing, biking, horseback riding, boating, and the development of off-leash dog exercise areas, restrooms, trailhead parking lots, and limited structures that enhance the passive recreational experience. “Limited structures” may include ponds or other water bodies designed to enhance wildlife habitat, benches, fishing piers, signs, and educational displays.
(C) Development of traditional active recreational facilities such as athletic fields, swimming pools, tennis courts and formal picnic areas is precluded. The use of motorized vehicles by the public for any recreational purpose is prohibited, except as may be required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
(D) Certain open space properties may be leased for continued agricultural uses, such as farming or grazing, or for short- or long-term residential uses of structures that were located on the properties at the time of acquisition. This approach can provide a glimpse of Westminster's past, protect the land from development, and/or shift some maintenance costs to the lessee. Generally, the leased properties will continue to afford public access for passive enjoyment to the extent such access is consistent with the lease.
(E) Properties acquired with funds derived from the open space portion of the Parks, Open Space and Trails sales tax and properties donated to the Open Space Program, pursuant to Section 13-5-8 shall not be used for transportation corridors or the installation of underground or above ground utilities except in accordance with the policies promulgated under Section 13-5-12.
13-5-4: REDESIGNATION, SALE, OR TRADE OF OPEN SPACE PROPERTY: (1855 3455)
(A) In certain cases, it may be determined by the City Council that a property originally acquired for open space purposes may be better utilized for another public purpose, including but not limited to an active park. In such cases, the Open Space Land Acquisition account shall be reimbursed the current market value of the affected property at the time of its conversion, or the cost of that land at the time of its original acquisition, whichever is higher.
(B) In certain cases, it may be necessary to acquire a total property in order to preserve a portion of the property as open space. In such cases, the City Council may dispose of the remainder, and the Open Space Land Acquisition account shall be reimbursed the current market value of the disposed land at the time of its sale, or the cost of that land at the time of its original acquisition, whichever is higher.
(C) In certain cases, it may be determined by the City Council that a property originally acquired for park purposes may be better utilized for open space. In such cases, the Parks and Recreation Capital Reserve Fund shall be reimbursed the current market value of the affected property at the time of its conversion or the cost of that land at the time of its original acquisition, whichever is higher.
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(D) The City Council may approve land trades of open space property for other lands. In such cases, for the purpose of reimbursing the Open Space Land Acquisition account, the relative current market values of the lands traded shall be determined by the City Council as part of the approval of the trade, but in no event shall a value be placed on the open space property that is lower than its cost at the time of its original acquisition.
(E) In certain cases, it may be determined by the City Council that a property originally acquired for utility purposes may be better utilized for open space. In such cases, the current market value of the affected property at the time of its conversion will be determined and the Utility Enterprise Fund will receive a credit in that amount against future utility-related uses of open space pursuant to Subsection (A), above. Payment in cash or a land trade pursuant to Subsection (D), above, may also occur.
(F) Once a property is designated as open space, it shall be subject to all of the provisions of this Chapter. Property that is subject to restrictions limiting its use to open space purposes may not be redesignated without approval of the restricting grantor.
(G) For the purposes of determining the “current market value” under Subsections (A), (B) and (C), above, the City Manager may rely on an MAI or AIA appraisal of the property or, for parcels less than five acres in size, may rely on publicly verifiable information concerning recent sales of substantially similar properties.
(H) Notwithstanding the foregoing, the redesignation by the City Council of parklands, open space property, or other City-owned lands that were acquired through the public land dedication requirements of Section 11-6-8, W.M.C., will not require reimbursement from one City fund to another.
13-5-5: USAGE OF OPEN SPACE FUNDS: (1855 3455) Generally, funds derived from the open space portion of the Parks, Open Space and Trails sales tax shall be expended only for acquisition of lands or interests in lands, for improvements to restore or enhance the land’s natural or historic resources, to afford public access and safety, and to remove improvements that are incompatible or hazardous. Fencing may be installed to delineate and protect certain properties. Examples of improvements to open space properties include natural or native plantings, wetland enhancements, natural surfaced and , where appropriate, paved trails, signage for directional and educational purposes, and construction of items approved under Subsection 13-5-3(B) herein.
13-5-6: MANAGEMENT OF OPEN SPACE PROPERTY: (1855 3455)
(A) All provisions of Chapters 13-1 and 13-2, W.M.C., are applicable to open space property, except that certain uses, permitted under Section 13-1-3, W.M.C., are prohibited on open space property as provided below:
(1) Hunting or trapping is prohibited.
(2) Off-leash dog or cat usage is prohibited unless the land is specifically signed to allow such usage.
(3) The use of motorized vehicles by the public for any purpose is prohibited, except as may be required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
(4) The sale, vending, or distribution of any merchandise, services, or tickets is prohibited unless written permission is granted by the Open Space Coordinator.
(5) The solicitation of contributions is prohibited.
(6) The distribution, posting, or deposition of any handbills, circulars, pamphlets, advertisements, or event notices is prohibited.
(7) Amplified sound is prohibited unless written permission is granted by the Open Space Coordinator.
(8) The driving, putting, or practice of golf or use of golf clubs is prohibited.
(9) The washing, waxing, repairing or servicing of automobiles or other vehicles is prohibited.
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(10) The discharge, firing, or use of any firearm, air gun, slingshot, bow and arrow, or other projectile or projectile launching device is prohibited.
(11) No fauna or flora may be taken, molested, or removed without the express written permission of the Open Space Coordinator, which consent must be in the possession of the person or persons so permitted during the time any fauna or flora is taken.
(12) Lighting or maintaining a fire or possessing or igniting any fireworks are prohibited.
(B) The Parks, Open Space and Trails (POST) Committee, appointed by the City Manager, will normally review all grant applications, major construction improvements, master plan development, proposed trail projects affecting open space properties and make recommendations thereon to the City Manager or City Council, as appropriate. Although primary responsibility for recommendations on proposed acquisitions lies with the Open Space Advisory Board, the POST Committee may also review proposed acquisitions.
(C) It may be necessary to close an open space property temporarily, in order to protect a natural resource, for restoration purposes, or to make the property safe for public enjoyment.
13-5-7: MAINTENANCE OF OPEN SPACE PROPERTY: (1855 1889 3455) The Department of Parks, Recreation and Libraries shall be responsible for the regular maintenance and operation of the open space properties, with funds made available in the City’s general operating budget and funds derived from the Open Space portion of the Parks, Open Space and Trails sales tax.
13-5-8: DONATIONS TO OPEN SPACE PROGRAM: (1855 3455) The City of Westminster encourages residents of this community and other concerned persons or parties to donate certain lands or monies for use in the Open Space Program. City Council may by resolution accept such donated properties into the Open Space Program.
13-5-9: UTILITIES AND RIGHT OF WAYS: (1855 3455) The City expresses its awareness that extension of major roadways and water and sewer service are frequently the forerunners of new urban development, and intends that every effort should be made to coordinate proposals for extension of these utilities so as not to defeat the objectives of the Open Space Program.
13-5-10: STATEMENT ON DEED: (1855) Any deed conveying to the City open space property that was purchased using Open Space Sales Tax Funds shall contain the notation "This land was purchased with Open Space Sales Tax Funds."
13-5-11: ENFORCEMENT OF APPLICABLE RULES AND ORDINANCES: (3455)
(A) The Director, or the Director’s duly authorized agents and employees, and any law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty shall diligently enforce the provisions herein and shall have the authority to eject, from any open space property, any person acting in violation of these rules and regulations. Further, the Director shall have the authority to deny use of open space property to individuals or groups who refuse to comply with the provisions of this Chapter and regulations promulgated hereunder.
(B) All persons entering open space property shall abide by the rules and regulations of the City, as provided herein, and the instructions and directions of duly authorized agents, employees or law enforcement officers of the City in their line of duty.
(C) It shall be unlawful to violate any provision of this Chapter or any regulation promulgated by the City Manager, pursuant to subsection 13-5-6(A), above. A person convicted of a violation of a provision of this Chapter or of a regulation promulgated by the Director shall be fined as provided in Section 1-8-1 of this Code.
(D) In addition to any other fines or penalties provided for by this Code, any person causing damage to open space properties or improvements thereon shall be required to, at the option of the City, either restore the property or pay all costs that the City incurs in restoring the property to its pre-damaged condition.
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13-5-12: POLICIES FOR NON-OPEN SPACE USE OF OPEN SPACE PROPERTY: (3455) From time to time, the City may find it desirable and in the public interest to permit certain non-open space municipal uses, and, in limited circumstances, certain private uses on, in, or under open space properties. The City Council will adopt, by resolution, such policies to address when and under what circumstances such additional uses of open space properties may occur.