Friday, September 20, 2019

Town Council may consider rezoning Elk Avenue block

Continuing to stand behind horizontal zoning ordinance

by Aleesha Towns

The Crested Butte Town Council will not reconsider horizontal zoning but may be amendable to re-zoning the zero block of Elk Avenue. That was the message delivered by mayor Alan Bernholtz at the last regular Town Council meeting to Crested Butte resident Robb Fessenden.



Fessenden has been seeking an exemption of the horizontal zoning ordinance for the zero block, which is located at the north end of Elk Avenue and is home to residences and the Secret Stash restaurant. Fessenden first appeared before the Town Council on February 4 when the Town notified him that he was violating the horizontal zoning ordinance by renting his Elk Avenue building for office use.
Fessenden said he didn’t realize the ordinance applied to the zero block of Elk because the town treats the block differently from the rest of Elk in terms of maintenance, and very few retail businesses have been successful there. He argued that the block should be exempted or the ordinance changed to allow offices in the B3 zone.
The Town Council adopted horizontal zoning in August 2007. The zoning forbids office uses within 40 feet of Elk Avenue on the ground level of buildings in the B1 and B3 zones. The ordinance is aimed at creating a more appealing shopping district on Elk Avenue by providing space for sales-tax generating businesses.
The Town Council decided to keep its ordinance in place, stating it was too early to start tinkering with the relatively new rule.
However, Fessenden persisted with his request and appeared before the Town Council on Monday, March 17 to make a final plea. “As much as I don’t want to be here, I’m here,” Fessenden said to the Town Council. “One more time, I want to argue that the intended purpose of Ordinance 17 cannot and will not work on the zero block of Elk.” He urged the Town Council to reconsider the ordinance. “Please change your minds and vote to take time to discuss it amongst yourselves.”
Crested Butte mayor Alan Bernholtz said he was satisfied with the horizontal zoning ordinance but would be willing to consider re-zoning the zero block of Elk Avenue.
“We don’t have a problem with re-zoning the zero bock,” he said. “That’s the direction we should be going, not changing the ordinance.”
With the item not on the agenda, Town manager Susan Parker curtailed the discussion and urged the Town Council to discuss it as an agenda item. The Town Council asked the Town staff to consider the implications of re-zoning the zero-block or exempting the block from the ordinance. That discussion has not yet been scheduled.

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