Ordinance banning newspaper racks getting the boot
The Crested Butte Town Council is not afraid of a proliferation of newspaper racks cluttering Elk Avenue. In fact, the council set for public hearing the repeal of an ordinance that limits the number of racks allowed on Elk Avenue.
According to town clerk Eileen Hughes, that ordinance, passed in June 2005, is cluttering up the books. In a memo to the council, Hughes explained that “Staff is bringing up the topic of repealing this ordinance because it has never been implemented and one of the goals of the Town Code recodification project is to update our code with an eye towards deleting sections that are outdated, not implemented, illegal under current law or impractical.”
Originally the idea was to have the town provide a high-end rack that concentrated publications in one place. That proved to be too expensive for Crested Butte. “I’ve never had a complaint about the newspaper boxes on Elk Avenue,” said town manager Susan Parker. “It’s not a problem.”
The council agreed with the sentiments of the town staff and will move forward with repealing the ordinance.
Sales tax revenue continues decline
Even with the infusion of the Ride the Rockies bicycle event last June, the sales tax figures for Crested Butte continue to show a decline over 2007. According to the sales tax report given the council, June was off 4.7 percent. Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce director Christi Matthews pointed out that the “Bars and Restaurants” category was up 2 percent and the “Grocery” category was up 5 percent. She felt Ride the Rockies could be responsible for the increases.
In a side note, Matthews confirmed that while Ride the Rockies will not be coming through Crested Butte next year, the smaller Bicycle Tour of Colorado plans a late June stop and rest day in town June 24-26.
The town figures show the second quarter sales tax revenue is down 10 percent and for the year, sales tax is off 3.4 percent compared to 2007.
Council wants to meet and greet those who get liquor licenses
In what normally is one of the easiest procedures at a Crested Butte Town Council meeting—getting a liquor license—the council on Tuesday postponed issuing one for the Inn at Crested Butte. The public hearing for consideration of the application for a Tavern Liquor License by Whiterock LLC was continued to August 18 because no one from the Inn showed up before the council.
While all the paperwork was in order, background checks came up clean, BOZAR approved a conditional use to allow a bar at the Inn and the staff had recommended approval, town clerk Eileen Hughes and town attorney John Belkin both suggested the council ask the applicant to appear before the council. The council agreed and the license will likely be issued August 18—if someone shows up to the meeting.
When is a non-profit taking advantage of town?
Kelly Beam, Crested Butte’s departing assistant recreation director, came before the council as a private citizen and alerted the council to some non-profit groups she felt were taking advantage of the town.
She said that as budget time approaches and groups ask for discounted leases to town-owned space, some of the groups were overreaching. “There can be a real harshness and sense of adversity with some of these groups,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair when a group is getting a great deal on rent from the town and they turn around and try to charge big rental fees for other groups to use that same space.”
She outlined some of the costs being charged students of some local programs that get great deals on town rents, as little as $500 a year. “I don’t know how they justify being a non-profit. I know what they must make given the fees they charge students and the other fees they charge people,” she said. “The council really needs to evaluate these programs being run on town property and get appropriate rent. Some of the programs are hard-core businesses and they aren’t always fair.”
Evans lobbies for ice
Longtime resident Teddy Evans came to the council and urged them during this budget season to not give up on an indoor ice rink. The town had set aside property and committed money to building a rink south of the Community School but the project’s main financial contributor, local developer Gary Garland, recently stated his original proposed contribution of a million dollars was off the table, in part because the town process was taking too long.
“I really want you to know that a lot of folks in town want a real ice rink to happen,” Evans said. “I know you understand it is a good idea and can bring people in here that spend money and increase sales tax revenues. While the current rink probably needs a roof and glass, a new rink would greatly benefit the town.”
Evans has two sons who play hockey and said a rink is a great addition to the community. “It is too bad Gary Garland bailed on his promised contribution but perhaps you should ask him back and work together to get a rink. It would be a big positive for our town.”
Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie said the town hasn’t totally given up on the idea of an ice rink. In fact, he said, the town just received a wetlands permit on the proposed site of the ice rink at the Town Ranch.
Mayor pro tem Leah Williams said a rink was still possible. “We’ve all worked hard and share that disappointment that the momentum appears to be lost,” she said. “But it needs to be a partnership.”
Real estate broker dreams about to come true
While the council gave a tentative okay at their last meeting for the local real estate community to begin putting open house signs throughout town, the official approval must go through several bureaucratic processes. One such process is the approval of the change to the ordinance to allow such signs. The first step for that approval will take place August 18 at a scheduled public hearing.
But as pointed out by several council members and the town attorney, the real estate agents must have thought they already had the official okay since some have started putting out their open house signs. Those agents will be set straight and the council looks ready to approve the changes to allow the signs for a limited number of hours on Sundays and Tuesdays, but the official approval won’t likely happen until later this month.
Rankin touches on local carbon tax, zero waste, recycling…
Councilperson Billy Rankin broached the idea of implementing a local carbon tax. He said the Office of Resource Efficiency (ORE) had formed a subcommittee to investigate ways to raise revenues. “One idea is the possibility of a carbon tax,” he told the council. “It is something being discussed in the very early stages but ORE has contacted a pro bono lawyer to look into how it would work. We aren’t sure how many layers of a carbon tax people could have, especially since there is talk of a federal and state carbon tax in the future as well.”
Rankin also had noticed that a huge amount of trash was generated from this past weekend’s arts festival. “I think it would be great if we can move toward zero waste events,” he said. “We need more recycling and less trash.”
In that mode, he asked about getting not just trashcans on Elk Avenue but also recycling receptacles. “I was looking for a place to put a can and I couldn’t find anyplace to put it so I ended up sticking it in my pocket and taking it home. Can we get some recycling bins on Elk?”
Town manager Susan Parker said starting a recycling program in Elk would be expensive, time consuming and not easy to find workers for. “It can be done but you have to help me come up with ways to pay for it and find the people to work it,” she said.
The council said they would give some thought on how to make it work.
In-town camping coming to Crested Butte?
Would being able to pitch a tent in town make this a better place? Councilperson Dan Escalante thinks so. “I think it would be awesome to be able to roll into town and be able to pitch a tent. I think it would help keep this town cool,” he said. Escalante suggested a permitting system that would allow local police to issue permits to set up a tent after sundown and take it down early in the morning. “I just want to plant the seed because I think it would be a cool thing to see,” he said.
Chamber director Matthews said that in the same vein, her office gets a lot of requests from people driving RVs to sleep in their rigs on town streets overnight. “If you are going to consider the camping, please keep in mind people in recreational vehicles,” she requested.
Be Bear Aware
The council has heard from constituents forced to purchase bear-proof containers. The hungry bruins have broken into several containers. “They are ‘bear resistant’ containers,” clarified Parker. “Right now the bears are in a feeding frenzy and will be in that state probably through September. We’ve done the best we can but we don’t want to force people to buy $500 metal containers. People need to be aware and if they can, not put out their trash at night.” Parker said even her container was the victim of a hungry bear that managed to bend the top and find a few goodies.