The City of Fort Lupton
By Claud W. Hanes, Fort Lupton city administrator
The City of Fort Lupton watched as surrounding communities grew — and, in turn, wanted to inspire growth. So officials, led by newly elected Mayor Tommy Holton, acted to set a new direction for their hometown. Holton, well qualified to put new plans in motion as former Weld County Planning Commission chair, and the city council began to set the vision and direction that have proven so successful for Fort Lupton. They first created a team to assist in making the vision a reality. Several management positions were changed during the team’s creation, and future managers were made fully aware of the direction that the City was heading.
Economic incentives are difficult for small communities to afford, so the City of Fort Lupton looked to other incentives to inspire growth. The speed of opening is important to companies looking to site a new business or relocate, so the City looked at ways to reduce the time it takes to gain a building permit. The land-use process for site plans, special use permits, and other applications required prior to building permits historically took up to 120 days in Fort Lupton. That was greatly reduced — to 45 days.
This process exemplifies Fort Lupton’s goal to make any new company feel welcome. This way of doing business requires quick response and cooperation from municipal staff, Mayor Holton, and city council. The City began weekly council meetings, and the planning commission was given more options for meetings to promote getting things done as quickly as possible.
One big challenge was to retain the long-standing company Halliburton. The company agreed to front the funding of a two-and-a-half-mile extension of water and wastewater lines to its new site, which opened approximately 2,000 acres for future industrial and commercial needs. Many other annexations have followed to provide opportunities in virtually every direction around the City.
Halliburton has increased its employment base almost fivefold, and other companies have followed. Legend Energy and Weir SPM Flow constructed new buildings just north of Halliburton, and every suitable commercial building is now occupied with oil-and-gas-related companies or other industrial and commercial businesses.
All of these new businesses and the related dynamic growth will bring a new Marriott Hotel to Fort Lupton next year, new housing developments are being planned, several new apartment buildings are being discussed, and single-family developments on existing platted lots are under way.
With the expansion of the oil-and-gas industry in Fort Lupton, Aims Community College has doubled the size of its Fort Lupton campus to provide certificate and degree programs related to that field. It also has added new programs in agriculture.
Fort Lupton is working hard to bring in the retail businesses and restaurants that are needed to support all of the new employees for the new jobs that are already in place.
“Fort Lupton is an open canvas” and has its welcome sign out, so “come paint your future with us.”
As Mayor Holton stated, “The City of Fort Lupton and its operation is a total team concept, from the council to the staff. It is easy to do that when none of us should or would take credit for what is going on in the City. All of us have our sights outside the city limits now, and are looking into the future — not next year, but 20 years. It is very important to have staff that believes in the vision of the council to move the City forward. The City can function without a mayor, but it cannot function without an outstanding staff, and in that area, we are blessed. I want Fort Lupton to be where my grandchildren want to live — that is my only goal.”