CB council approves emergency ordinance prohibiting demolitions of buildings

Public can weigh-in in two weeks

By Mark Reaman

In an effort to address what appears to be a recent increase in requests to tear down old but not historic buildings in Crested Butte and build new homes, the Town Council agreed on Monday to take a time out to look at how to handle the issue.

The first official Crested Butte ordinance passed by the town Council in 2019 was an emergency ordinance prohibiting the town from accepting applications for a period of nine months from property owners wanting to demolish a building. The ordinance that was approved unanimously at the January 7 meeting must be ratified within 20 days, so a public hearing will be held at the council’s next meeting on January 22.

The issue started to come up last year when some owners of property that was closing in on the 50-year age mark inquired about regulations with the property. Portions of town are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Under that classification, buildings have to be at least 50 years old to be considered historic and once designated as such, much stricter regulations govern what can happen on the property.

The period between 1880 and 1952, when the mining era came to an end, is considered to be the town’s historical Period of Significance. So, many old but not officially historical homes in Crested Butte were built in the 1960s and 1970s and are approaching a historical designation under town regulations.

Community development director Michael Yerman has been working on an ordinance to address such buildings that would allow them to be redesigned or demolished under strict town oversight. But some public comment that indicated the proposal was not strict enough has sent the staff back to the drawing board on the ordinance.

Given the expectation that “multiple demolition permit applications could be filed in the near future, staff is recommending the council adopt an emergency moratorium. 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,” Yerman wrote in a memo to the council.

Yerman explained that passing the ordinance put it into effect immediately but it must be ratified by at least five council members within 20 days.

Builders Greg and Jimmy Faust were at the meeting and asked what the emergency ordinance would mean to a project they had in mind: to demolish an A-frame on the east side of town and replace it with a new building. Greg said the building was thought to be 49 years old and he didn’t want it to go to historical status as a result of the ordinance prohibiting all demolitions.

“The structure is very poorly constructed and the intent is to make the neighborhood better,” Greg explained.

Yerman said the ordinance was in effect for nine months to give the public time to comment and to give BOZAR time to delve into alternatives. He expected a new ordinance to be written by summer so any new regulations should come in before the building turned 50.

“The built environment is important for Crested Butte,” Yerman told the council. “I think it is good to take a quick time out to really look at how to get a good ordinance that deals with these buildings and with potential demolitions of buildings in town.”

The council voted 7-0 to approve the emergency ordinance and will vote on it again on January 22 to ratify the measure. As a result, the previous ordinance addressing the old but not historic buildings in town will be withdrawn, so the scheduled public hearing on that ordinance will not occur on January 22 as previously scheduled.

Also in that vein, BOZAR recently turned down a request to demolish a Crested Butte home. The owners of the property are appealing the BOZAR decision to the Town Council. That appeal will be heard in February.

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