Garfield County blocks two Carbondale storage developments
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Carbondale residents won a battle against encroaching development Monday as the Garfield County commissioners denied applications for two self-storage facilities along Highway 82.
The two proposed storage buildings were of similar size — just under 100,000 square feet and nearly 40 feet high — and both were opposed by county staff.
One facility, proposed by Blue Mountain Garfield LLC, was planned right across from Catherine Store at the intersection of Highway 82 and County Road 100.
The other, under the name GO Self Storage, was 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.
When it came to the Catherine Store facility, the Board of County Commissioners were split at the public hearing for a limited impact review Monday, which was continued from March 18.
Tom Jankovsky moved to approve the first proposal from Blue Mountain Garfield, LLC, which wanted to build a climate-controlled storage facility across from Catherine’s Store on County Road 100 and Highway 82 because the applicant had followed the development code, and he thought the free market should decide what businesses would work at that location.
“I personally believe in the free enterprise system, and the market will win out on if there’s additional need or not,” Jankovsky said.
Blue Mountain’s attorney, Chad Lee of Balcomb & Green, pointed out that some of the opposition to the proposed self-storage facility came from other storage owners.
“As far as we can tell, they even set up a nonprofit to oppose this,” Lee said, apparently referring to the Down Valley Small Business Alliance, which sent out mailers to neighbors about the “big box” development.
Many members of the public spoke about the lack of a storage crisis and the actual housing crisis in the valley.
Diana Alcantara, who lives near Catherine Store, said the land, especially on the eastern side of the county, should be preserved for housing and job-creating projects.
“I don’t see that either of those are being addressed here,” Alcantara said. “People who can afford to keep their belongings and their wine in a climate-controlled environment will be using it. I don’t know that anybody in my neighborhood will be,” she added.
“The lighting would be worse, the traffic would be worse, and everybody in this room would be here again saying, ‘No, it needs to stay a pasture,’” Jankovsky said. “All I can say is, if somebody wants it to stay a pasture, they need to buy it, own it themselves and leave it a pasture.”
Commissioner Mike Samson said he was moved by the public opposition to the Blue Mountain proposal. “I think, that people are desperately trying to say, ‘We’re trying to save our valley,’” Samson said. “It’s going to be tougher and tougher to do that, because there’s going to be more and more pressure.”
Samson added that western Garfield County would welcome the same project.
For commission Chair John Martin, keeping the T.O. Ranch as a residential subdivision was critical.
“I am standing on a commitment that I also made, that I am not going to yield in reference to the needs of another county, and be their bedroom community, and be their storage place,” Martin said in reference to neighboring Pitkin County..
“It’s not that I’m against storage. In fact, this is a beautifully designed facility. I just think that I need to stay with what I agreed … and that is to put housing in the eastern part (of Garfield County),” Martin said.
The commissioners were unanimous in opposing the GO Self Storage facility at the former location of Planted Earth for access concerns.
“It’s a great building, but not in the right location, due to access and compatibility,” Martin said.
Jankovsky said he was committed to not allowing projects that directed traffic across 82 without a traffic signal.