Garfield County commissioners postpone decisions on Carbondale-area storage facilities
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Garfield County commissioners postponed decisions on two controversial self-storage facilities proposed near Carbondale after public hearings Monday, until they can conduct site visits.
More than 50 people attended the Board of County Commissioners meeting Monday afternoon to voice their opinions on the two proposed sites. The vast majority were opposed to development.
One facility, proposed by Blue Mountain Garfield LLC, is planned right across from Catherine Store at the intersection of Highway 82 and County Road 100.
The other, under the name GO Self Storage, is planned for the site where the Planted Earth greenhouse and nursery used to operate, about a mile east of the main entrance to Carbondale at Highways 82 and 133.
The commissioners will visit both Carbondale sites April 8, then hold more public hearings at the commissioners’ meeting room in Glenwood Springs April 15.
“This is going to be an important decision by this board,” Commissioner Mike Samson said of the proposed Planted Earth site.
“I am very conflicted, I must say, in some ways. I’ve heard some good points espoused by people today that I need to think about,” he said.
After public hearings for both proposed facilities, Samson moved to postpone a decision until after site visits, because he is not as familiar with that area of the county.
County administrative staff did not recommend making land-use permit changes for either the Catherine Store or the GO Self Storage facility that would be closer to Carbondale.
In a report, staff said the GO Self Storage facility “is not in the best interest of the health, safety, convenience, order, prosperity and welfare of the citizens of Garfield County.”
“We’re here to agree with staff,” said attorney David McConaughy, who represented the Down Valley Small Business Alliance, a coalition of undisclosed opponents to the two proposed storage facilities.
McConaughy presented several exhibits, including maps that showed the GO Self Storage building would be visible from almost the entire town of Carbondale, unless the view was blocked by buildings or trees.
‘GLUT’ OF SELF STORAGE
The respective applicants argued that there is market demand for their businesses, a point that the owners of two current self-storage facilities in the area disputed.
“In my opinion, we have self storage coming out of our ears,” said Travis Stewart, president of All-Valley Storage, which has a facility at Cattle Creek.
Many of the local self-storage facilities are expanding, adding at least 36,000 square feet of additional storage space, said Mark Gould Jr. of Royal Mini Storage, plus another 80,000 square feet of storage being built in Basalt.
There is a “glut of storage” capacity in the area, which doesn’t help the “economic diversity, but rather creates an epicenter for self-storage,” Gould said.
Wes Grammer, a land developer with ties to Kansas City, Missouri, is proposing the 99,000 square foot, three-story GO facility nearest to Carbondale.
Grammer told county commissioners he also was involved with developing the Willits commercial center. The self-storage facility shares some investors with the up-valley shopping area, he said.
Neighbors of the site spoke of their concerns, including worries about the brightness of the lights in the new facility, traffic impacts, and how self-storage would not serve the local communities as much as Aspen.
Town of Carbondale Trustee Lani Kitching spoke on behalf of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission against both proposed developments, which are within Carbondale’s sphere of influence.
“The building location, mass, highway proximity and resultant view corridor impact are not compliant with Carbondale’s [Unified Development Code],” Kitching said of the Planted Earth site.
The developers of the GO facility said they had listened to concerns from the neighbors and adjusted their plans.
“We’ve essentially agreed to every request” from the community, Grammer said.
Many of the public comments were based on not wanting development to change the rural, scenic and picturesque nature of the area.
The commissioners held two public hearings on the Blue Mountain Garfield LLC proposal for a three-story, 96,000 square-foot self-storage facility near Catherine Store.
One related to the impact review of a changed land-use permit, and the other was about removing a “residential only” restriction for the subdivision where the mini-storage facility would sit.
“I think it’s appropriate,” Moszynski said. “If they want to see it, they should see it.”
The Blue Mountain proposal is based in part on the Garfield County Comprehensive Plan’s designation of Catherine Store as a “Village Center,” defined as serving the local neighborhood with convenience stores and other services.
In the map included in the comprehensive plan, Garfield County’s designated village centers are marked with asterisks.
McConaughy said that the asterisk marking the Catherine Store location is clearly on the south side of Highway 82, and should not cover the north side where the proposed storage facility would sit.
Blue Mountain countered that the asterisk covers the whole intersection at Highway 82 and County Road 100.
John Martin, chair of the board of commissioners, noted at another part of the meeting that the comprehensive plan is a suggested vision for the county, and non-binding.