Carbondale trustees call for more work on rezoning | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale trustees call for more work on rezoning

John ColsonGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Some members of the town’s board of trustees this week indicated “no problem” with the idea of raising maximum building heights to 42 feet along Main Street in the downtown area.But trustees were not as accepting of some of the other ideas contained in a proposal floated by the town’s citizen planners to change the zoning of what is termed the Historic Commercial Core.And a number of citizens urged the trustees to go slowly and carefully before making the proposed changes to the town’s land use regulations or relinquishing legislative control of certain aspects of development.”I don’t think you should give up your right to review each and every project,” said long-time local Ken Olson, speaking to the trustees during the public hearing portion of the meeting.The board took its second formal look at the plan at the Oct. 13 regular meeting, listening to a presentation by town planner Doug Dotson before suggesting that the plan still needs a lot of work before it can be considered as an amendment to Carbondale’s land-use codes.Dotson was directed to take the plan back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further discussion, and to come back to the board of trustees on Jan. 12.At the meeting, Dotson outlined a number of aspects of the proposal, which came from the P&Z late last summer as a way to encourage greater residential growth in the historic core.Among them would be an increase of allowable building heights from the current 35 feet to a maximum of 42 feet, but retaining the limit of three stories per building.The rules change also would encourage increased density in the core, in part through elimination of the existing “minimum lots size” for residential development. The proposal calls for “stepped back” upper stores to relieve the “canyon effect” of taller buildings and permit the sun to at least hit the northern side of the street in the winter months.The plan also would change the way developers are required to provide parking, by reducing the requirements to one space per residential unit regardless of the number of bedrooms. Some of the parking issues discussed at the meeting included off-site parking removed from the development, or the use of the ground floor as a parking lot in multi-unit projects where underground parking is not fiscally feasible.Dotson told the trustees that one of his main goals at the meeting was to learn if the 42-foot building height was acceptable.”To me it is,” declared Mayor Pro-tem John Foulkrod. Conceding that the taller buildings on the south side of Main Street might block views for some, he later called views of Mount Sopris “a relative thing.”Even if Carbondale’s signature massif to the south is not visible from all parts of town, “it’s still there,” he said. “You can see it when you want to.”Trustee John Hoffman said he was not inclined to go along with the 42-foot height.”I get claustrophobic” moving along streets flanked by tall structures, he said, adding that the buildings would cast too much shadow onto Main Street and would “change the character of the town.”Trustee Frosty Marriott concurred, noting, “I have reservations about the increase in height,” although he felt the changes in density and the elimination of the minimum square footage would be acceptable.”I have a real issue with this,” noted veteran local activist and observer Laurie Loeb, arguing that the whole idea came from the developers of the Town Center property and questioning the propriety of changing the town’s rules to satisfy the needs of one project.Town Center partner Scott Writer was in the audience at the meeting, and did not object to Loeb’s characterization of the proposal’s origins, and Dotson confirmed by telephone that the developers had been involved in an early version of the P&Z’s proposal.But those early ideas were reworked to come up with a plan “in a bigger context, that they thought would work for the entire downtown,” Dotson recalled.One member of the public, Greg Saskiewicz, said the difference between 35 feet and 42 feet is “not too significant,” that the town needs more “light, commercial development” to keep the economy pumping, and that increased downtown density is preferable to “suburban sprawl.”Others expressed a variety of concerns, such as one from Chris Chacos, founder of the Village Smithy Restaurant, about whether the town has sufficient water pressure, or the fire department has the right kind of ladder trucks, to battle a 42-foot high fire.And Nancy Clough, who lives right off Main Street, told the trustees that among other concerns, “I worry about it being overly dense” in the downtown area. She also said she prefers the “planned urban development” type of review for all projects that want extra height or other variances, because it gives citizens more opportunity to be heard.Dotson was instructed to take another look at the issues of parking, shading of Main Street and surrounding homes, and setbacks, before bringing the proposal back for a continued public hearing.jstroud@postindependent.com

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