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Carbondale shoots down restrictive zoning ordinance

The Carbondale Board of Trustees ignited a few fireworks when it shot down size limits for big box stores and other large buildings Tuesday night.”We’ve just negated a year’s hard work by the P&Z,” an upset Russ Criswell told his fellow board of trustee members, referring to the town Planning and Zoning Commission.”We’re not paying attention to the P&Z, and I think that’s ridiculous,” Criswell said.Moments earlier, Mayor Randy Vanderhurst cut off size-cap proponent Bob Schultz before he got started, telling the Mountain Folks for Global Justice member, “This is my turn to talk, baby. You’ve been talking for a year.”In the end, by a 4-3 vote, the trustees removed the so-called Option A zoning proposal from consideration and directed town staff to refine a less restrictive Option B.A possible new component of Option B, proposed by Trustee Krista Paradise, would make buildings over a certain size go through the special use permit process before they can be approved.Option A, favored by Mountain Folks for Global Justice, would have capped buildings at 60,000 square feet in some zone districts, and others at 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 square feet in other zone districts. Option A also introduced a new layer of town review, and in many cased required the developers to conduct studies and mitigate impacts depending on building size.Option B, drafted by town staff at the trustees request, is less restrictive. The main difference is that Option B does not include maximum building sizes.Option B streamlines the review process and gives town staffers more review input for new development than under existing codes. Developers can still be required to conduct studies in some cases under Option B.Carbondale hired a land use planner last year to create Option A at the request of Mountain Folks for Global Justice. The effort came after big-box opponents protested the original Crystal River Marketplace commercial center on Highway 133 during public hearings.Tuesday night, the trustees heard final public comments from another packed house, then offered their own observations.Trustee Andrew Montoya was the most critical of Option A, Option B, and Mountain Folks for Global Justice. He listed at least 10 concerns, and said the town took two years to complete a new master plan.”At no time was this code amendment alluded to. That concerns me,” Montoya said.Montoya took aim at Option B, and said, “It’s a duplication in regulations, and confusing to applicants.”In stating his reasons for favoring Option B, trustee Mark Whalen said, “When push comes to shove … when it’s a split decision, I’ll go with staff.”Trustee Susie Darrow said it’s easy for her to imagine a 125,000-square-foot big-box store at Willits in Basalt, in Glenwood Springs or Rifle, but it’s more difficult to envision one at the corner of Main Street and Highway 133.”Something that size will be different for us,” Darrow said.Darrow said she favored Paradise’s idea of special review permits for large buildings.In wide-ranging comments, Mayor Vanderhurst pointed to Carbondale’s Latino population and asked about their shopping needs.”Where are these people shopping?” Vanderhurst asked.The motion the trustees voted on simply asked if Option A should be removed from the table.Voting for the motion were Vanderhurst, Whalen, Montoya and Fred Williams. Voting against the motion were Darrow, Criswell and Paradise.”Four to three, just like the P&Z,” Whalen commented.The trustees will discuss Option B with town staffers at an upcoming Tuesday night work session.In other trustee business, liquor license applications were continued to the Feb. 26 meeting for Adela Yarbrough at the Taqueria El Paisano and for Cassie Cerise at the Black Nugget.


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