Rocker Spirits – Littleton Featured Business

 

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By Carol Fey

Littleton’s Rocker Spirits is part of a growing business trend—micro distilleries.  Opened in August, 2016, Rocker produces and serves high quality whiskey, vodka, and rum onsite at 5587 S. Hill St.  But more interesting even than the excellent spirits is the signature “interactive” rocking bottle.

The bottle that co-owner Duston Evans created is just plain fun to play with; the sides are round!  Tip it over and it rocks itself back upright.  Try as hard as you might, you can’t keep it down.

Plus the bottle is gorgeous to look at and touch.  The bottle has been nominated for six international glass and packaging awards, and has made it to the finals, competing in the classy world of perfume and makeup packaging.  See the video on how the bottle was created and manufactured:

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At the same time, Rocker Spirits’ bottle exhibits the theme of the distillery—Industrial Vintage Americana.  The inspiration for the bottle is a 1930’s oil can, which also rocks back upright when tipped. Following the old auto theme, the whiskey bottle label is a speedometer, the vodka is a tachometer, and the rum is an oil pressure gauge. (see picture)

Rocker Spirits’ building dates back to 1954.  It was originally furniture storage, and then home to a couple contracting businesses.   Evans and co-founder Patrick Johnson renovated the brick building with loving care into an inviting social space.  Besides a large bar, there are high top tables and leather couches where you can view the glistening distillery equipment in one direction, tidy stacks of wooden barrels in another, or watch a big screen TV.

Coming soon at Rocker Spirits are wood-fired pizza, pairings of spirits and pizza, and tasting nights.  Right now you can take a distillery tour, sign up for bottle-filling parties, or snuggle in for good spirits.  For details, go to www.rockerspirits.com.

 

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Did You Know? Retail Sales Taxes are on the Rise for Urban Renewal Areas

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The Urban Renewal (UR) law provides an opportunity, by state statute, to rid the community of slum and blight that retards the sound economic growth of an area.  When the UR Plan provides for the use of any increase in sales tax to be used to help defray the cost of an urban renewal project, a sales tax “base” for the area has to be determined.  The law stipulates that there is a “look back” period of the previous 12 months  – whatever was collected in that time period becomes the base for all future year collections, and in our plans that is for 25 years.  Any increase in sales tax will be compared to the base and anything above the base will be diverted to LIFT, our UR Authority.

Typically, municipalities do not include sales tax increment to fund Urban Renewal projects for a couple of reasons.  First, it diverts needed sales tax revenue out of the General Fund to the UR authority.  Secondly, it is a difficult calculation to make.  (Imagine you have sales tax on your Comcast bill, other telephone providers, sales tax on a car that you buy but purchased elsewhere…..  You can see that it is a tricky thing to establish.)

Because Urban Renewal is used to rid a community of slum and blight there is generally a dip in sales and property taxes for the first few years while redevelopment is occurring.  And slum and blighted areas, by statute, constitutes an economic liability to the community so it makes sense that new tax dollars would not be present for a few years.  But, as someone from the Institute of Justice told us as they were driven around Littleton to see our slum and blight, Littleton has the best looking slum and blight they had ever seen!

There’s nothing like numbers to prove a point so here you go.

  • Columbine Square UR Plan Area – Sales tax collection was up $19,500 for 2015.  That represents an additional $650,000 in retails sales and a 7% increase over the look-back period.
  • Littleton Blvd UR Plan Area – Sales tax collection was up $71,581 for 2015.  That represents an additional $2,386,033 in retail sales and a 13.6% increase over the look-back period.
  • North Broadway UR Plan Area – Sales tax collection was up $22,959 for 2015.  That represents an additional $765,300 in retail sales and a 2.5% increase over the look-back period.  But this calculation is being challenged.  The city did not follow the law that states anything collected over the base is increment and is to be deposited into the special fund of the UR authority.  The city decided they could use the increment to pay King Soopers their tax share-back amount that was negotiated in a separate agreement.  Acting city attorney will be issuing a second opinion and we expect to see this number increase.

As you can see, Littleton is thriving, even in our “slum and blighted” areas.  With the increases that we are seeing in the Urban Renewal areas, perhaps we should leave well enough alone!  We don’t need to fix what is not broken.

Tell City Council—Littleton Has Great New Businesses (without the help of Urban Renewal)

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Click on to see Littlet0n’s Development Activity List

There are great new businesses in Littleton.  That is shown by stories about Rocker Spirits above, and about Lewis & Cluck in our previous issue.  Add to that the new businesses announced in the Littleton Report which comes to you in the US mail.  Commercial development is thriving in Littleton without out taxes being confiscated by Urban Renewal.

Yet, to hear the fans of Urban Renewal tell it, our city is blighted to the point that we must take tax money intended for schools and parks and hand it to developers and businesses.  One of our favorite examples is handing money to King Soopers after they had already committed to renovate their store at Littleton Bvd and S. Broadway.

According to LIFT (Littleton’s Urban Renewal Board) member Kyle Schlachter, the solution to our “deteriorated, deserted and downright disappointing” commercial corridors is to fill them up with businesses that aren’t successful enough to stay in business without our tax dollars.

City Council member Bill Hopping explained on 10/4/2016 that the purpose of Urban Renewal is to fund, with our tax dollars, businesses and projects that would not be feasible without our help.  Hopping repeatedly reminds us that he is a businessman, yet he insists that it is “good for the city” to support businesses that aren’t financially sound.

We wonder, what projects and businesses are they talking about, and who makes the determination that a project is “good for the city?”

While the few approved urban renewal plans are deliberately vague on specifics of projects, the accompanying impact reports do show the types of projects: more than 1,300 apartments. What our tax dollars would be funding through Urban Renewal is lots of new apartments which aren’t commercially feasible on their own.  How is that good for the city?

Who makes the determination that a project is “good for the city?” The answer is LIFT, Littleton’s Urban Renewal board of unelected people who have already picked failed projects which have cost the city $9 million.  This is not “good for the city.”

What can you do?  Right now, email or phone the members of City Council and tell them to
repeal the urban renewal plans and to disband the LIFT Urban Renewal board at the Dec 6 meeting.  You can find contact info for City Council at http://www.littletongov.org/connect-with-us/city-leadership/city-council-members. Or you can attend the meeting and express your opinion during public comment.

For the Record – Puma Park’s Lonely Bench

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There’s a brand new lonely park bench in Puma Park, the green space behind Powell Middle School.
Its predecessor was a well-used bench, nestled under shade trees, and tucked safely away from the busy sidewalk.  It was often occupied by people reading books, sitting with a dogs, or “just resting.”
A few months ago, South Suburban replaced the good bench with one that no one uses.  The new one is fully exposed to the often-too-bright, often-too-hot sun.  It’s up against the sidewalk, so anyone sitting there is vulnerable to whooshing bikes and lunging dogs.  It’s a nice bench, in a location not good for sitting.
When we asked South Suburban why, they said that it was too hard to mow around the other bench, and that if we don’t like this one we can sit on a different bench.
There are no other benches in this park.

Cool Gardening Ideas – Cause and Effect

By Betty Harris

It would appear that most humans do not connect their actions or lack there of with the results of the same. Personally I believe this lack of understanding or connection has resulted in some major issues in our lives.

How does this relate to gardening? Remember that 70% of water pollution is caused by runoff and half of that is from what we do on our lawns and gardens. That alone is an example of cause and effect. Covering the earth’s surface with concrete and asphalt causes major issues with flooding as water is prevented from entering the soil. Building up to the sidewalks leaves no space for water to sink into the soil, thus adding to the issues of runoff and flooding. Removing grass, plants, and trees and spreading impervious materials on the surface of the earth contributes not only to flooding but to heating of the planet. Think overheating. Overheating contributes to further overheating as we like to live in a great deal of comfort so we air condition our homes by using fossil fuels to produce energy to run these machines to make our lives more comfortable. Cause and Effect.
Spraying chemicals on the soil to kill weeds and plants has deleterious effects on soil and plant life and on those people who spray this stuff without protective clothing or equipment. Failing to understand that the effect from this will not be fully understood for perhaps another generation causes us to not take the proper actions to prevent problems in the future. We do this without thinking. Designing plant life to patent it in order to make more profits will not feed the world, in fact all the research shows that areas of the world that ban the growing of genetically modified organisms actually have superior crop production. Designing plant life is not the same as early human’s developing plants that produce larger or better fruits or seeds by selectively choosing from among existing plants for those characteristics that are desired and help the people survive. That process itself can be attributed to cause and effect.

Designing chemicals to be used against other humans may result in the extinction of all humans. Redesigning those same chemicals to kill insects so that more profits can be made on crops shows that plants and insects can adapt faster than we can. Use of these dangerous chemicals on plants now finds some of these chemicals in our food and even in honey. Survival of the fittest has degenerated into survival of the greediest.

Refusing to accept that all actions have consequences, many of which may be detrimental for generations may doom us all.

Insisting on a lawn of blue grass causes a demand for more water than our environment may be able to accommodate going forward. Buying sod from an area where Japanese beetles thrive rather than from local sod farms because one kind of grass makes golfing more fun has brought the beetle to Colorado. Keeping green lawns, which by the way is a more recent innovation than we are aware of, uses too much water, creates too much work, too much noise, too much pollution and less time spent with the children talking and playing and teaching as well as habitats for the beetle.

Bagging leaves and organic matter and paying companies to take it to landfills where it ferments and creates methane does two things. First it adds a greenhouse gas to the atmosphere that is way more damaging than carbon dioxide. Second it trashes material that God designed to be recycled back to the plants. Cutting that recycling process reduces plants’ ability to survive and causes humans to fertilize with chemicals that are dangerous to our environment and our personal health. Digging phosphorus out of the ground to be used in other places for fertilizer causes massive pollution and creates further issues with “runoff” and disposal of the side effects of this mining creates issues where it happens. Since it is not in our own neighborhood we aren’t aware of it at all until there is some massive pollution event that somehow escapes into the corporate controlled media.

Cutting down entire forests and burning the plant residues in order to grow palm trees for oil to put in cosmetics and foods causes drought. Removing trees allows for erosion and loss of fresh water and nearly wiped out the population of New Guinea. Removing trees to be used to move huge stones to be used to show that one man is more important than another caused the loss of all trees on Easter Island.

Whatever your religious beliefs or lack there of, ignoring the natural environment or destroying it for profit will destroy life on this planet. If you believe in evolution or in a God that created everything then you must consider how all this fits together, designed or otherwise. How we deal with it, what we do with it will determine our own destiny. Whether plant life was evolved or created, the interactions between plant and animal life and between plant and plant is important to maintain. Returning dead plant matter to its source and feeding the soil life that feeds the plants and the plants that feed us is imperative. It would behoove us as the more “intelligent” species to observe and learn from what we do (the cause) and how it impacts other species and our own (the effect). We ignore this to our personal peril. We ignore this to the peril of all life forms on this small blue dot that revolves around the sun which Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos, the first person to propose based on his observation of “cause and effect”.

No Room for Citizen Input–A Tale of Two Authorities

 

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There’s been a lot of discussion about the Urban Renewal Authority, aka LIFT, in Littleton over the past few years. But there is another Authority in Littleton that has pretty much stayed under the radar until now.

South Metro Housing Options (SMHO), formerly known as the Littleton Housing Authority, was created in 1970. Not knowing that much about SMHO other than that they provide and help with low income housing (LIH) in Littleton, we decided to refer to the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) to see what the housing authority is all about.

It didn’t take very long to realize that some of the language in the C.R.S. for urban renewal is similar to the language in the housing authority statutes. For instance:

• They are both a body corporate and politic granted public powers in the C.R.S..

• They both can be created with a petition, filed by twenty-five residents of the city, requesting the city council to approve the formation of the authority. Council can deny the petition.

• A resolution approved by council establishes each authority.

• The mayor appoints the members. In other words, they are unelected.

There is one difference between the Authorities that is worth noting. SMHO does not need to have their “plans” approved by the council. They make their decisions and in spite of the good that they do for citizens that need the help, their decisions can impact the quality of life for residents already in the community. LIFT has to have their “plans” approved by the council. This allows for public hearings throughout the process. And, because of Initiative 300, citizens get to ratify any urban renewal plans that come about after the passage of 300. (300 does not have any impact on the current urban renewal plans – it was passed after they were approved.)

What put SMHO on our radar screen after all these years? It is that Summit Development is taking steps to build a 63-unit low income housing apartment building on the west side of Nevada St just north of Main Street. This building could be 100% occupied by Section 8 low income residents. And, because the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority has awarded the builders an annual $1,240,000 tax credit for 10 years, the building will be required to be used for low income housing for 40 years. But wait, there was another agreement between the parties. Summit Development has guaranteed that the property will remain low income housing for 55 years.

The point is that the housing authority is acting autonomously from the city council–as they are allowed to do. Decisions they make, as an unelected body, can have a real impact on the quality of life for those who are current residents of the city. Residents are helpless – they have no voice in the matter. All of this can and was decided without any council input or approval.

Our elected representatives have no power over the authority they created!

Lewis and Cluck

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Lewis & Cluck store manager Nickolas Paullus with “well-behaved chicken-on-leash” Ruby

By Carol Fey

The sign outside downtown Littleton store Lewis and Cluck is enticing–“Well Behaved On Leash Chickens Welcome.” All of my chickens wanted to go! I explained that one might be enough, so they agreed among themselves that Ruby was the one.

To prepare, I hitched Ruby into a “repurposed” kitten harness. it was a perfect fit with the neck loop on the tightest possible buckle hole, and the chest loop on the loosest. Chickens aren’t shaped at all like kittens, but seemed to average out about the same. Fortunately I had a matching leash—both bright purple—so Ruby was property decked-out to go calling.

Manager Nikolas Paullus was delighted to have a chicken walk into the store. Lewis & Cluck loves visitors!

Ruby thought the store was wonderful. She examined everything at chicken-eye level, and found many kinds of affordable high-quality chicken feed. Of no interest to her, but interesting to me was also feed for horses, rabbits, pot belly pigs, guinea pigs—you name it.

While Nickolas offered Ruby special chicken treats, he filled me in on what the store is about.

In addition to offering quality feeds, Lewis and Cluck is all about cultivating relationships with people who have out-of-the ordinary animals. They offer:

– Wild bird feed
– Chicken-raising classes
– Gardening classes
– Coaching on animal-raising and gardening
– Periodic chicken and rabbit swap days
– A small flock of backyard chickens that you can visit
– And of course, TREATS

Ruby was indeed well-behaved in the store—not a plop on the floor anywhere. And so Nickolas gave her a little bag of chicken treats to take home to impress her chicken sisters.

Lewis & Cluck
5664 S. Prince St, Littleton
303-797-4818
www.lewiscluck.com

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