Carbondale trustees question prohibited uses in ‘Village’ plan
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE – There may be some rethinking on a key set of provisions related to a large commercial development proposed for Highway 133 that grew out of Carbondale’s “Economic Roadmap Group” recommendations.
At a continued public hearing on the Village at Crystal River proposal Tuesday night, planning staff and several Town Board members questioned a list of certain types of businesses that may not be allowed as a condition of approval for the 24-acre grocery store and mixed-use development.
The list includes such things as movie theaters, art galleries/studios, small crafts stores, farmers markets, museums, and “tourist/visitor oriented” retail.
The suggested prohibition on certain uses was developed several years ago after town voters shot down the former Crystal River Marketplace big box development at the site. It was meant to ensure that any large-scale highway development complements, rather than detracts from, Carbondale’s historic Main Street district.
The recommendation came out of the Roadmap Group process, a citizen-led effort to draw up an economic master plan for the town and help determine what kind of commercial development would be acceptable at the Marketplace property.
The group’s recommendations were never formally adopted by the town. However, they were used as the basis for directing Denver developer Rich Schierburg to come back with a plan that met the town’s desire to protect its small-town character.
“While I recognize the desire to limit competition with the downtown, the wording which prohibits certain uses should be re-examined,” town planner Janet Buck wrote in a staff report for Tuesday night’s continued discussion on the Village plan.
Schierburg’s plan, which has been the subject of several month’s worth of town meetings, calls for 125,000 square feet of retail commercial development, including a 58,000-square foot grocery store, restaurants, a bank and a gas station, plus about 15,000 square feet of office space and up to 164 residential units.
Trustees are working through a set of conditions leading toward likely approval of the project, but every meeting seems to spark a new debate about some aspect of the proposed development.
“I’ve never been supportive of including that language,” Trustee Elizabeth Murphy said. “It’s not fair to pick and choose the kinds of businesses that can locate there.”
Trustee John Foulkrod said he could see limiting certain uses that could be detrimental to downtown, such as a theater, which would be in direct competition with the Crystal Theatre. But he wondered how it could be regulated and enforced once the development is built out.
Trustee Pam Zentmyer supported keeping the language as a condition of approval, saying it reflects the history of the project and the original intent of protecting and preserving downtown businesses.
“We have a beautiful downtown, and my fear is that this could quickly become a replacement for our downtown,” she said. “That would be heartbreaking for a lot of people.”
The board agreed to keep the question open when the public hearing resumes on Nov. 16.
A number of other issues were discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, including open space requirements, a community housing plan, interior streets and Highway 133 improvements. The board rejected the idea of creating a temporary town park on one lot within the development that would not be built on until the final phase.
Still to be discussed are energy efficiency requirements, a proposed real estate transfer assessment and a proposed five-year period to retain vested development rights.
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