Town grapples with demolition of structures in Crested Butte

Emergency ordinance and appeal of BOZAR demolition decision

by Mark Reaman

The Crested Butte Town Council on January 22 was unable to ratify an emergency ordinance prohibiting the acceptance of applications to demolish structures in town. The council will attempt to do so at the February 4 council meeting.

Because it is an emergency ordinance, at least five of the seven council members must vote in favor and on January 22 only four council representatives were able to attend the meeting. The council instead opened the public hearing on the matter and continued it to February 4.

The emergency ordinance in essence replaces an ordinance proposed at the end of 2018 that would have allowed some demolition of non-historic structures to take place under strict guidelines and only if approved replacement plans were in place and okayed by the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR).

But some public comment put a hold on that proposal and the town staff now wants time to reevaluate how to handle proposed tear-downs in Crested Butte.

“Given the considerable time research and input deserved, and the likelihood of multiple demolition permit applications being filed in the near future, staff is recommending that council adopt an emergency moratorium,” stated a memo to the council from community development director Michael Yerman and town attorney Barbara Green.

“The moratorium will provide a ‘time out’ to allow research and public input without the Town’s architectural integrity being threatened by additional demolition applications prior to the effective date of the town’s regulatory revisions,” according to the memo.

Town manager Dara MacDonald explained to the council that the moratorium went into effect immediately at the January 7 meeting when the council voted to consider it, and remains until action is taken by the council to ratify the ordinance. Under town rules, the council needed to open a public hearing within 20 days of that January 7 meeting, which they did on January 22.

Several local contractors, some with potential demolition projects on the horizon, attended the meeting but did not provide comment on the proposal. They indicated they would return for the February 4 meeting.

“I am supportive of the nine-month moratorium to determine appropriate regulations,” said citizen Sue Navy.

“I appreciate the fact that you are taking the time to look at this more closely,” resident Jim Starr told the council.

Yerman said if the council ratifies the emergency ordinance, the staff would begin research in earnest in March and hopefully get a proposal for BOZAR to consider in April or May. After the BOZAR process that includes a public hearing, any new regulations would go to the Town Council and another public hearing would be held as well.

Demolition rejection appeal

In the meantime, the council will hear an appeal of a recent BOZAR decision to deny an application to demolish a non-historic structure located at 20 Third Street. The Haney property had asked for a demolition permit along with plans to build a new structure on the site. The BOZAR voted 4-2 to deny the demolition application stating among other things that “demolition of the structure will cause disruption of the cohesive historic fabric of the Town” and that “the form, style and design of the existing residence exemplifies the most appropriate development for the R1 zone neighborhood.”

That appeal is scheduled to take place at the February 19 Town Council meeting. As a result, that meeting will commence at 5 p.m.

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