Bernot: Next move ‘up to the developer’s team’
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Now that the voters have turned back the proposed Village at Crystal River development, town officials are left wondering what will happen next.
Both the town manager and the mayor said they are not at all certain about plans for the VCR site, and the developer indicated he is unsure, as well.
The development was rejected by a margin of nearly two-to-one, 1,245 to 667, with a voter turnout of 66 percent, in a mail-ballot election that concluded on Jan. 31.
Developer Rich Schierburg, who is dealing with a death in his family and was not in Carbondale on election night, was not personally available for comment on Wednesday.
Debbie Patrick, head of Promotional Concepts, the marketing firm Schierburg hired for the special election, emailed a written statement from the developer.
“I was obviously disappointed by the outcome, but I thought we put our best foot forward,” Schierburg wrote to the Post Independent.
“The fact that we had an election to vote on a plan the town told us they wanted us to pursue is also frustrating. My partners and I will be meeting to decide what will be our next move and I will let you know when that decision is made,” he wrote.
Mayor Stacey Bernot, who favored the VCR proposal, took an upbeat view of the election.
“I think there’s quite a few positive things to take from it,” said Bernot. “I think the voter turnout was very positive and shows that our electorate will continue to be very engaged in local issues.”
In looking at the vote split, she said, “That’s a very decisive resolution, and I can live with that.”
She said the developer “specifically asked us to send it to a vote of the people, and I thought it was appropriate.”
Bernot said she was not aware of any recent talks between Schierburg and the town concerning possible next steps.
“I would assume that, if there were talks, they would start with staff,” Bernot said. “It’s up to the developer’s team.”
Town manager Jay Harrington, reached late on Wednesday, said he has “no idea” what Schierburg might have planned.
“We haven’t had any communication with Rich or his group about what might happen next with the property,” Harrington continued.
Bernot said that, for the town’s part, she expects the board of trustees will turn to other issues, such as improvements to Highway 133 in partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation and an update to the community land use plan.
Given the voters’ decision, the 24-acre site where VCR would have been built as a Planned Unit Development reverts to its underlying zoning.
There are two zone districts on the site, according to documents on the town website.
The northern portion, across Highway 133 from the Roaring Fork Co-op, the property is zoned Planned Community Commercial, or PCC. The classification allows construction of a wide range of commercial businesses.
Among the permitted uses are restaurants and retail stores selling antiques, clothing, appliances, auto parts, books, general merchandise, groceries, hardware, liquor and videos, and other types of goods and services.
Bars and lounges (with dancing or entertainment, a conditional use permit is required), would be allowed as well.
The southern, smaller portion of the site is zoned commercial/retail/warehouse, or CRW, a classification that permits many of the same uses as are permitted in the PCC zone.
The CRW zone also permits vehicle sales and leasing, vendors of building materials and supplies, and newspaper offices.
Bernot expressed uncertainty concerning the idea, voiced by some VCR proponents, that the recent election will dampen developers’ interest in building in Carbondale.
“Potentially, I think it does,” she said. “I think there’s frustration out there from the development community, but I don’t know what [the election] means with respect to that.”
Whatever the development community thinks of the election, she said, the election results have shown, “you also have to balance that with the community’s desires.”
Harrington said if Schierburg were to sell off pieces of the site to individual developers, he would need to subdivide the parcel first, which would require a review by the town.
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