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New rules for de-annexation zoning

Kara Williams
Special to the Post Independent

The Garfield County Commissioners changed county zoning rules Monday so property that is de-annexed from a town reverts to its previous county zoning, barring a conflicting court ruling.

The change comes in anticipation of the requested de-annexation of the 24-acre Crystal River Marketplace property in Carbondale.

It clears the way for Marketplace owners to seek zoning change to allow for commercial development if the de-annexation is approved by the 9th District Court.



The commissioners rejected Carbondale Mayor Michael Hassig’s request to re-word the amendment to require property owners of de-annexed property to wait six years before requesting a zoning change.

“I applaud the commissioners for the action they did take, and I am fully in support of the amendment,” said Hassig. “I just wanted to push it a little further.”



Commissioners approved the amendment Monday after realizing county zoning regulations did not address parcels that come into the county through de-annexation.

Brian Huster, developer of the Crystal River Marketplace in Carbondale, filed a petition in 9th District Court in December seeking to disconnect the property from the town of Carbondale.

“They could have taken steps to make de-annexation less attractive to developers,” said Hassig. “One has to fear that de-annexation is just the first step in jurisdiction shopping.”

Hassig’s request to re-word the amendment stems from a state law that requires a property owner to wait six years before allowing commercial development on a de-annexed parcel.

Depending on how the state law is interpreted, there may be an exception if surrounding land is zoned for commercial use. Land adjacent to the Crystal River Marketplace includes a 7-Eleven convenience store.

The amendment the commissioners approved Monday calls for de-annexed property to revert to the county zoning in effect at the time of the original annexation of the property.

One exception noted in the approved amendment is property that has already been re-zoned by the court, according to Garfield County planner Mark Bean.

The 9th District Court will have the final decision on whether the Crystal River Marketplace can disconnect from the town of Carbondale, said Bean.

Because the county commissioners did not specify a waiting period for developers to seek re-zoning of de-annexed land, Bean said that in theory, developers of de-annexed property that don’t obtain court re-zoning could request re-zoning from the county right away.

The Crystal River Marketplace property on Highway 133 was zoned A/R/RD (agricultural/rural/rural density) before it was annexed into Carbondale in the 1970s, said Bean.

Property taxes on zoned agricultural property are significantly lower than zoned commercial property.

In July 2003, Carbondale residents voted against developer Brian Huster’s proposed 252,000-square-foot Crystal River Marketplace shopping center.

After Huster filed a petition to de-annex the Marketplace property from Carbondale, the town responded by filing a motion to dismiss the petition, calling it illegal.

The court has until Feb. 6 to set a hearing date on the de-annexation petition.

At Monday’s meeting, commissioner Tresi Houpt expressed concern that de-annexation may become a trend.

“I’d hate to see de-annexation in the courts because developers can’t resolve issues with communities,” she said.

Contact Kara Williams: 945-8515, ext. 535

kwilliams@postindependent.com


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