CARBONDALE, Colorado - It appears that there is a feeling of guarded optimism around town concerning the proposed Main Street Market.
So far, locals have not resorted to the kind of sharp battle lines drawn over previous efforts to develop the 24-acre site at the western edge of town.
Local consultant Bob Schultz, with one of the project's part-owners, Briston Peterson of Carbondale, hosted a Nov. 15 community meeting on the subject of the market.
Schultz indicated that he was pleased with the turnout of approximately 60 people, and with the feelings they expressed.
"I thought it was great," Schultz wrote in an email to the Post Independent. "People showed up in force and brought constructive ideas to the table."
The Main Street Market proposal, which has yet to be formally submitted to the town government, would occupy eight acres, or a third of the overall site.
The 24-acre site, near the intersection of Highway 133 and Main Street, was subject to two previous development plans - for the Village at Crystal River earlier this year and the Crystal River Marketplace a decade ago.
Those plans were rejected by Carbondale voters in special elections in 2003 and in January 2012.
The new project is considerably smaller than the previous two concepts, though it is owned by the same partnership that owned the previous proposals, according to Peterson. Two of the four partners have yet to be identified publicly.
According to Schultz, the new proposal calls for the relocation of City Market from its current space, at the southwest corner of Main Street and Highway 133, to a larger building on the north side of Main Street and behind the existing 7-Eleven store.
Aside from a new City Market store, there would be three building sites of about an acre each fronting Main Street to the west of the Highway 133 intersection.
"I think a new City Market store could be a good thing for town," said former mayor Michael Hassig, who noted that his feelings about the overall proposal are "kind of mixed, as they have been all along" regarding development proposals for that site.
Hassig's wife, Olivia Emery, who works with him at an architectural office in town, said she likes the fact that the new plan calls for the City Market store to be at the southern end of the property, rather than at the north end as it was in earlier proposals.
"That seems better, to me," she said simply.
Schultz reported that participants in the Nov. 15 community introduction made a number of suggestions for the grocery store:
• Make it green, to meet or exceed the intent of a proposed Carbondale Green Commercial Code.
• Think long term, to spend money on the building's exterior and its energy efficiency from the start, since the store will own the site and should want it to last for decades.
• Protect the night sky, to use downward facing lights, and turn off lights at night as much as is feasible.
• Plan for bikes and pedestrians, to make non-motorized customers welcome by providing for their arrival from the start, rather than as an afterthought.
"The most common comments to Briston were, 'Thanks, this is more like we have been talking about,' and 'Why didn't you do this years ago?'" Schultz reported.
By adhering to the underlying zoning of the property, the project owners might avoid an electoral battle with residents who oppose the development.
But town manager Jay Harrington said on Wednesday that the project, even though it complies with underlying zoning, must go through the town's subdivision process. If approved, he said, it would be by ordinance.
And ordinances, Harrington continued, can be subject to a citizen referendum.
This means that "theoretically, someone could challenge the subdivision" and put it to a vote of the people, he said.