Board of Adjustment upholds triplex approval in CB South

South Butte LLC now allowed to build

By Katherine Nettles 

In its first appeals hearing since becoming an active governmental board this year, the Gunnison County Board of Adjustment (BOA) ruled recently to uphold a Crested Butte Property Owner’s Association (POA) decision regarding a triplex project in Crested Butte South. 

The project, located at 499 Cement Creek Road and proposed by developer South Butte, LLC, was reviewed by the POA’s design review committee in November 2023 and approved with conditions. A group of concerned neighbors appealed the DRC’s approval a couple months later, and when the POA overruled the appeal, the group appealed that decision to the Gunnison County planning department. That appeal was reviewed by assistant county manager for community and economic development Cathie Pagano, who also denied the appeal in April 2024. In what appears to have been a final effort, the group then filed an appeal of Pagano’s ruling to the BOA. 

The group of neighbors, or appellants in the appeals hearing, are long-time CB South homeowners Andrew and Susan Tyzzer, Craig Maestro and Norman and Rebecca Dumas, who argued they would be negatively impacted by the project and submitted six points of objection as a ground for their appeals. 

During the three-hour BOA hearing in April, the BOA first considered the appellants’ request to postpone the hearing, primarily based on the Crested Butte Fire Protection District’s (CBFPD) need to review the project. The BOA determined there had not been a substantive argument for doing so as the CBFPD had already been consulted on a preliminary basis and was not required to review the project formally until a later stage. 

Next, the BOA heard from the Tyzzers, Maestro and the Dumases regarding their case to overturn approval of the triplex. The parties each argued separately. They had each been opposed to other iterations of projects proposed for this adjacent parcel, located at the corner of Blackstock Drive and Cement Creek Road. Their objections included the building size, which would be larger than any of the adjacent homes, and other features such as roof pitch, roof materials, maximum height, design and construction quality, driveway width, setback, increased density with the number of potential residents and overall sense that it wouldn’t fit in well with the neighborhood. 

“Now is the time to wake up to the facts,” said Susan Tyzzer. “Follow the rules and come to the conclusion that the structure is wrong for this neighborhood. All our neighbors have stood together to prove this point to you.”

South Butte developer Brian Morelan  presented next and made the case that he had been trying to build on this lot for five years and thought it could be lucrative and provide housing for the valley. He noted that the lot he chose was zoned for multifamily and appropriately oversized, while also being on a major arterial road with minimal impact on the interior neighborhood roads. 

“CB South has many examples of single-family residences next to multifamily,” he said. “Look, if anyone’s visited the area and had seen the three families’ [appellants] homes, my construction, 2 by 6 [foot] construction, hardy flank siding—the most sound deadening the manufacturer can order, custom exteriors, custom design, more firesafe, more energy efficient, double pane windows, LED lighting, all those things. My neighbors don’t even come close to competing. 

“I personally feel it’s enhancing the corner of that area,” continued Morelan. “The three things that do affect [the appellants homes] value are their initial design choices, how they’ve kept up their properties and the choice of what to do with their properties. They had choices. They had either rights or opportunities to make these decisions when they built. Now they’re trying to take those rights or opportunities away from me.”

Morelan added that through this process, his personal integrity had been challenged in public, the appeals had prolonged the building of his home, and he said he felt that this was a waste of time and money for himself, the CB South POA and likely the county.

“They’ve wasted money. These homes are now a few hundred thousand more than they would have been when I tried to bring them on market, because of legal costs, because of design costs, because of the timing of interest rates and because of the market. And these are all things they’ve done to the community for these three families getting their way,” he concluded. “I believe it’s a viable project. It’s a solid project and it was meant to be where it’s at.”

After extensive discussion, the BOA agreed that the appellants had not made a case to overturn previous decisions on the project. BOA board member Laura Puckett Daniels commented that she heard the neighbors’ concerns and understood their desire to have a neighborhood with a consistent look and feel. She acknowledged that CB South had changed substantially since the neighbors built their homes. 

“And I can’t speak to all the CB South special area regulations, the [Commercial Area Master Plan], the residential guidelines—I have not been involved in making those regulations. But you know, I think that there are certain concerns around aesthetics and livability and safety, and so to me, some of this would be more of a red flag if I was concerned about the safety of the property for the future. I can say I’m glad that at some point at the building permit stage or at the end of the inspection stage, the CB Fire Protection District will come in and review the property for safety. But in terms of meeting the requirements for safety, for the driveway with what are outlined in the regulations before us, it did not meet their burden by a preponderance of the evidence to justify modification.”

With that, BOA board member Liz Smith motioned to uphold the decision of the county’s planning director based on the expressed finding that the appellants did not meet their burden of evidence to justify modifying or reversing the action. The motion carried unanimously. 

Invitations to both Morelan and the appellants to comment on the BOA’s ruling did not receive a response from any parties. 

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