Carbondale trustees skeptical about storage business proposal
March 29, 2017
Carbondale trustees had a lukewarm response to a proposed annex for a self-storage business Tuesday. They expressed interest instead in holding out for a project that could add to the town's housing stock or tax revenue.
The self-storage business on the 2.6-acre parcel north of the Xcel Energy substation on Colorado 133 would be one of the biggest buildings in town, if not the biggest, which made the board hesitate.
Given Carbondale's scarce space for housing, it isn't ideal to use space for a business with a large footprint that neither adds to the town's housing stock nor adds significantly to the town's revenue stream, Mayor Dan Richardson said.
Richardson asked if the developer would be willing to incorporate housing or a rental fee that would feed into the town.
“I don’t feel like this is a project the town is going to be excited about and say, ‘All right, look at what we got in one of our last undeveloped parcels with great highway frontage.’”Ben BohmfalkCarbondale trustee
"Obviously we live and die with sales tax in the town of Carbondale for the most part," he said. "And while we don't have businesses knocking on our door to develop this property that would generate a lot of sales tax, it is something we have to consider with commercial properties. What kind of revenue would we generate from this?"
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The mayor said a fee could be a win-win that doesn't impact the project and draws revenue for the town.
"If we were to require housing, is that a deal breaker?" Richardson asked. "I throw that out there because (housing) is a high priority, and we don't want to lose any opportunity to provide housing as part of projects" rather than accepting fees.
The property owner, Ron Stein, indicated that an additional fee was not part of the plan, as the business would not be very profitable for the first few years to begin with. Likewise, a housing component was not part of the project.
Trustee Heather Henry also was concerned about the sheer size of the building, 511 feet in length, according to current plans.
While he praised the design for trying to break up the lengthy facade, Richardson also said the large building seemed out of place for Carbondale. "This is a gateway property, so the aesthetics really do matter," he said.
"We just have such limited undeveloped land in town, and this is a huge parcel," Trustee Ben Bohmfalk said. "And we've had a lot of battles in this town over building square footage and boxes," he said, noting the building's rectangular design.
Bohmfalk said that once Carbondale residents heard about the proposal, they would likely come out against such a large building, especially at the town's entrance.
"I don't feel like this is a project the town is going to be excited about and say 'All right, look at what we got in one of our last undeveloped parcels with great highway frontage,'" he said.
Because this would be an annexation, the board is required to find that certain criteria are met, namely that the project "exceeds our normal requirements in either parks and trails, housing or preservation of agricultural lands," Bohmfalk said. "I'm not seeing any of those here so far."
The project's architect suggested that the building could occupy a smaller footprint by making part of it three stories tall, which some trustees were more receptive to.
Trustees Frosty Marriott and Marty Silverstein saw value in the self-storage project.
Marriott called it an investment in the community, which he foresees needing more storage in the future, largely for recreation equipment.
Though in the past he's been opposed to big-box stores, Marriott said he was open to the building due to the design, which does a better job of breaking up its lengthy sides.
Marriott and Silvertein also questioned whether anyone would want to live next to the Xcel Energy substation.
Several trustees also wanted to see trail extended in front of the storage building and Xcel substation, which could offer better connection to the Rio Grande Trail and Roaring Fork Transportation Authority park and ride.
Mark Chain, a former town planner and now a consultant on the Heritage Storage proposal, said he'd been through years of running into issues with what to do with the parcel. And while the owner could go through the county without getting the property annexed into Carbondale, its location makes it logical to go through the town's land-use process, he said.