Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Zoning code amendments on the table in Mt. Crested Butte

Mt. Crested Butte news
Zoning code amendments proposed
The Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission and town staff are gradually updating portions of the town’s building and zoning code so it better fits the needs and demands of 21st-century developers, and follows the town’s new Community Plan, adopted in 2007.

 

 
Community development administrative assistant Theresa Henry says the town has been reviewing the building and zoning code for about 18 months. Earlier this year the town adopted a new method of measuring building height as part of the ongoing changes. “The code is constantly under revision,” Henry says.
More recently, the Planning Commission has been reviewing the town’s zoning. According to community development director Bill Racek, one of the proposed changes is intended to speed up the design review process, by allowing single-family home designs within a Planned Unit Development (such as Prospect or Pitchfork) to be reviewed by town staff without having to go before the Planning Commission.
Racek says another proposed change is to update or remove antiquated design policies and replace the scoring-based system with one that is an absolute “make or break” system. The town currently uses a scoring-based system where certain aspects of a design are rated, and a building approval is based on the overall score after design ratings are added up. Racek says some of the design policies are very old. “Some of them are based on satellite dishes that are 20 feet in diameter, much bigger than the small dishes we use today. They’re just antiquated, so we’re updating those, making them relevant and getting rid of the scoring system,” he says.
Henry says the town staff and Planning Commission will be reviewing the changes up to September, at which time the Planning Commission may recommend the code changes for approval by the Town Council.

Town of Crested Butte news
Rainbow Park making progress
Crested Butte’s Rainbow Park got a lot greener this week. Between Monday and Wednesday, more than 140,000 square feet of sod was laid down on the regulation-sized soccer field at Rainbow Park. It will be September before the field, located at Maroon Avenue and Eighth Street, is ready for action.
“It takes at least six weeks for the roots to take hold so we are asking people to stay off the field,” requests Crested Butte town manager Susan Parker. “The park is coming along. Slowly, but it is coming along.”
Right now the children’s play park is open but fenced to keep the kids away from heavy machinery at the location. The pavilion, which collapsed as a result of last winter’s heavy snowfall, has been removed but the town hopes to rebuild it by the end of the year. Bids for the reconstruction of the pavilion are due this week and the town wants the reconstruction work to be completed by December 15. It is at that point the town might have to refund a grant for approximately $225,000 if the building is not finished. 
“The park is already seeing lots of use,” said Parker. “I’ve seen people on the climbing rock and the kids are always in the playground. When it is complete, it will be a great amenity for the town.”
“And remember,” she says, “Rainbow is a no-dog park.”

Coal Creek gauge selected
Water officials have selected a tentative location for a new stream flow measurement and gauging station along Coal Creek west of the town of Crested Butte. Earlier this spring the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District board discussed adding a stream flow gauge to Coal Creek based on water quality and high water concerns.
During an Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD) meeting on June 23, manager Frank Kugel said he and Colorado Geological Survey officials toured Coal Creek to pick a location. “We stopped at every block and every street crossing we could to access the creek,” he said.
Kugel said during the tour the stream was running close to peak, and it was obvious that the flow was too great in the tight, artificial confines of the creek along downtown Crested Butte to get accurate readings. Therefore, the investigators chose a location just outside of town along Kebler Pass, between the Stefanic and Halazon ditch systems. Kugel said, “It’s a good location. The significant drawback is it’s on private property.” Kugel said he would be contacting the property owners to see about acquiring permission to install the gauge.
Kugel said the Colorado Division of Water Resources has tentatively agreed to operate and maintain the stream gauge if installed.
UGRWCD member Ken Spann said the best location for measurement purposes would be closer to town, and asked if the streambed in town could be shielded or formed in such a way to make the stream flow more uniform and measurable.
Kugel said Wayne Schieldt, the local division engineer for the Division of Water Resources, did not believe such a structure could be made in the confined space without causing the stream to back up. Kugel said he would report back at a future meeting on the private property status.

Where are the bears?
If you’ve been waking up each morning and admiring the trash neatly secured in the wildlife-resistant container outside (rather than strewn across the yard), you might be wondering: Where are the bears now? In fact, Crested Butte chief marshal Tom Martin says bear sightings are down considerably from last year. Martin attributes the reduction in bear reports to the wildlife-resistant container ordinance, which he says the marshals have been steadily enforcing.
 Colorado Division of Wildlife Gunnison District wildlife manager Chris Parmeter says the reduction in bear sightings can also be attributed to the abundant vegetation and food sources in the high country following the heavy snows of last winter. “It’s definitely a combination. We’ve had a great spring. All the vegetation looks really good. But no doubt the lack of availability of food sources in town helps,” Parmeter says.
Both Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte enacted ordinances last summer requiring wildlife-resistant trash containers. “The last two Julys we had more bear sightings than all of this year. We had them in the alleyways behind restaurants almost daily,” Martin says.
This July 4 a bear was spotted running down Eighth Street, and a week before that a bear took out his frustrations on a bear-proof trashcan behind the Timberline, Martin says. For the past three weeks the marshals have been regularly chasing a small black bear up and over The Bench on the south side of town, but that’s been about it. And where the bears last year seemed to completely disregard the blank noisemakers and rubber pellets used by police to deter wild animals, Martin says this year the bears are paying much better attention.
In a July 15 report to the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council, police chief Hank Smith writes that officers on the mountain have also been using rubber pellets to successfully deter bears. According to Smith, Mt. Crested Butte is still having trouble getting property owners to switch to wildlife-resistant trash containers. “These folks are getting cited into municipal court once a week until we are shown proof that they have ordered a compliant Dumpster,” Smith writes.
Martin says compliance with the wildlife container ordinance in Crested Butte has been “for the most part, very good. We’ve written about 10 to 12 tickets.” More information about either ordinance can be found on the towns’ websites: www.crestedbutte-co.gov or www.mtcrestedbuttecolorado.us.

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