Development pushes B2 zone building regulation changes

Public hearing set for January 22

A proposed development that will occupy current open space on the north side of town made headway, as the Town Council voted Monday night, January 7, to set a new ordinance for public hearing that could change building regulations for the business zone along Sixth Street.



The ordinance would change five aspects of the town’s zoning regulations, including those governing large developments, square footage, parking requirements, snow storage requirements and affordable housing units allowed in the B2 zone.
According to Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie, the town began discussing the changes to the zoning code after the investor group developing the “Sixth Street Station” requested the changes last summer. Gillie told the Council that the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) had recently reviewed the proposed changes and recommended the Town Council adopt them through the ordinance.
The Sixth Street Station development is planned for 20 lots on the north end of town, west of Sixth Street between Gothic Avenue and Butte Avenue. The town has been meeting with the developers for the past six months.
The project is entering the PUD concept review process through BOZAR this month—the initial stage of a three-stage process for approval. “This stage is very preliminary and non-binding,” Gillie said.
Town Council member Skip Berkshire conferred with Gillie and said, “This ordinance doesn’t approve the project; it just accommodates some of their reasonable requests.”
The project is a mixed-use development that may include offices, retail space, some housing, a boutique hotel and restaurant. “This project is big and it has a lot of issues with it,” Gillie added.
The first section of the ordinance would clarify that Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) may bridge streets and avenues. A PUD allows a larger parcel or several parcels to be developed as a single development. The Sixth Street Development would bridge Teocalli Avenue.
“The current ordinance allows a parcel to be divided by an alley; this goes one step further and allows a development to cross a street,” Gillie explained.
Sections two and three of the ordinance address the floor area ratio (FAR) within the B2 zone. FAR is the ratio of structure size allowed to lot size. The current FAR for B2 is .5 to .64, assuming parking on is on the surface level.
Payment in lieu of parking is not allowed in the B2 zone.
The Sixth Street Station project is proposing underground parking for the site, challenging the current regulations. Thus, the town is proposing changing the FAR to 1.0 when underground parking is part of the development.
Gillie told the Town Council the change would not be dramatic and would still allow for similar massing to nearby buildings located in the adjacent residential zone. Some buildings along Elk Avenue have 1.5 FAR, Gillie added, giving the Council a reference for the proposed size of 1.0 FAR.
Crested Butte mayor Alan Bernholtz confirmed that previous discussions had addressed raising the FAR of 1.0, but asked if the FAR would be averaged over the whole development.
Gillie said how the FAR is arranged for the entire site is related to how the PUD is applied and that one end of the site may see a larger structure, while a smaller than allowed structure may be built on another section of the development.
Section four of the ordinance would change current snow storage requirements for a particular site. This change would affect all zones within the town’s limits. The code currently requires snow storage for one third of the cleared parking space area for any site accommodating more than eight parking spaces.
The new ordinance would expand the definition to include any plowed area, rather than just parking spaces. This would include pedestrian areas and trash storage.
“It’s a little broader, and as we saw this (past) week, snow storage is a critical thing in town,” Gillie said.
Gillie said the change also acknowledges that if snowmelt systems are utilized, the snow storage requirement is not needed.
Several Town Council members voiced their concern that the change could encourage developers to use snow-melting systems and choose to pay under the town’s REMP ordinance. The Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP) allows residents and businesses to have outdoor heated amenities, either at a price or through installing renewable powering devices. The measure creates requirements for most private and commercial outdoor snowmelt systems, and hot tubs equal to or in excess of 64 square feet in size installed in town limits.
“It seems like it provides a loophole for developers—I am just worried that outdoor heating will become commonplace,” council member Dan Escalante said.
Town Council member Billy Rankin agreed and suggested that snow storage should still be required in the case snowmelt systems malfunction, are misused or fail to melt the snow in a timely manner.
“We might still need snow storage with melting systems because they might not melt the snow right away,” Rankin said. “I just want to make sure we let people know we have a REMP ordinance and that is clear.”
Section five of the ordinance would allow for a new type of affordable housing unit to occur in the B2 zone. Currently residential units can be built only if they are deed restricted to long-term rental or owner-occupied and if the owner owns and operates another commercial space in the building. However, the proposed changes would allow the units to be sold as Resident Occupied Affordable Housing units. Gillie said the Sixth Street Station developers may or may not utilize the new provisions.
 The public hearing for Ordinance No. 1 2008—An ordinance amending certain provisions of the Town’s Zoning and Land Use Ordinance Relative to Planned Unit Developments and Parking—is set for Tuesday, January 22. 

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