Carbondale neighborhood outspoken in fight against proposed storage facilities
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
The fight against two proposed storage facilities near Carbondale may come to a head Monday at the Garfield County commissioners’ meeting.
Critics say that the proposed Blue Mountain Mini Storage facility will turn the area near Catherine Store into “urban sprawl” with a “big box,” industrial-looking building. Many are also opposed a separate storage facility proposal near Crystal Springs Road.
The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners will hold public hearings on both proposed facilities Monday afternoon.
After an extensive campaign against the project and comments in opposition from Carbondale planning officials, Garfield County administration staff recommended denying the storage facility’s application in a report released Friday.
CARBONDALE OPPOSITION ‘UNANIMOUS’
“We feel like our corner of the world is unique in that it’s pastoral, rural and mostly residential,” said Realtor Scott Bayens, president of the homeowners association board for Blue Creek Ranch and one of the organizers of the opposition campaign.
“We don’t want this to become a precedent for that corner, which could go from mini storage to fast food restaurant, to any number of things that we feel are not conducive to our unique residential lifestyle,” Bayens said in an interview.
The neighborhoods around the Catherine Store intersection are unanimous in opposition, Bayens said. The Carbondale Planning and Zoning Board also opposes the proposal, though it falls outside the town limits.
Blue Mountain Garfield LLC proposes a three-story, 96,000-square-foot facility across the highway from the gas station and convenience shop Catherine’s Store. The other proposed facility is a similar sized storage space near Crystal Springs Road.
A coalition of concerned neighbors, including Bayens, began a letter-writing campaign earlier this year. Between late January and early March, the county received 62 emails, letters and hand-written notes opposing the facilities, all of which were included in the county’s report.
Many letter writers objected to what they see as “urban sprawl” encroaching on the pastoral, rural setting. Opponents use terms like “big box” and “looming presence” to describe the three-story, 100,000-square-foot conceptual facility.
The building is “totally out of context with the area, not to mention, there’s plenty of self-storage in the area,” Mark Read, a resident of the Lions Ridge neighborhood, said in an interview.
“We don’t need self-storage, there’s plenty of it,” he said.
At least one of the storage facilities that would compete with a Blue Mountain facility agrees that more storage units are unnecessary.
“With 500 to 600 self-storage units becoming available this spring, the market would most accurately be described as over-built,” wrote Travis Stewart, president of All-Valley Storage, which has a facility in Cattle Creek.
PROPONENT DISPUTES CHARACTERIZATION
“We have done feasibility studies, and they indicate that indeed there is a pent-up demand for our type of storage,” Andy Moszynski, founder of Blue Mountain, said.
The proposed facility is distinct from the other offerings, as it is “enclosed, climate controlled, safe for belongings as well as safe for patrons, staffed by professional storage counselors, clean, inviting and basically a whole different offering from the typical drive-up storage prevalent in the valley,” Moszynski said.
Moszynski took issue with how the proposed units were characterized.
“We are also a locally owned business, and therefore disagree with the ‘big box’ characterization which typically refers to large sprawling retail operations several times bigger than ours, not a building like Blue Mountain,” he said.
Aspen Polo Partners, which owns the 100-acre plot on the south side of Highway 82 and plans to build a world-class polo facility for the Aspen Polo Club, also sent a letter to the commissioners with concerns about the proposed Blue Mountain storage facility.
“We believe the proposed industrial use of the property would contradict the stated intent of the Rural Zoning in protecting “the existing character of the area,” Peter Rizzo, project manager for Aspen Polo Partners, said in a letter, which did not make it into the county’s Friday report.
Opponents say the industrial use goes against both the rural zoning and the “residential only” restriction of the subdivision’s plat. That restriction would have to be changed for Blue Mountain, which is part of the reason for the public hearing.
In its application, Blue Mountain notes that the storage facility is appropriate because in the county’s Comprehensive Plan, the Catherine Store intersection is designated as a “Village Center,” defined as a “concentration of residential development and commercial development that is intended primarily for the convenience needs of surrounding residential development.
“The facility is designed to meet the regional needs of the surrounding neighborhood and area, both currently and as the surrounding community develops,” Blue Mountain’s application said.
QUESTION OF VISION
The town of Carbondale noted in its own letter of opposition that the storage facility “does not appear to comply with the intent of this [village center] designation.”
The neighborhood appears opposed to the development of this sort of village center around Catherine Store. On the other hand, they are very much in favor of the expanded polo fields, Bayens said.
“The polo fields are a big part of the vision and the future of that area. Does a mini storage fit in with that vision?” The answer, Bayens said, is a unanimous “no.”
A few community members wrote to the commissioners saying they are not opposed to a storage facility on that site, but believe the size is not appropriate for the area.
Every care was taken, Moszynski said, “to ensure the building blends with the natural surrounding environment.”
One of the few letters in favor of the proposed storage facility is from Mike Waid, the mayor of Parker, Colorado, where Moszynski runs a Blue Mountain facility.
“Not only has he [Moszynski] and Blue Mountain been great members of our business community in Parker but they have gone above and beyond with embracing local community organizations and nonprofits,” Waid wrote to the commissioners.
Bayens said he hopes people will come to the Monday hearing to voice their opposition in person.
The commissioners have the option to approve or deny the application, but may choose to continue the public hearings for both proposed storage facilities to a later session, or postpone a decision to visit the site themselves.
The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. during the regular Monday county commissioners meeting.