Adjustment Showdown set for June 18
by Rick Langenberg:
So much for a super-fast, regulation and law-suit free adventure for the Downtown Development Authority and the first phase of their much touted Woodland Station project at the old Saddle Club property. Already, two current business owners have filed appeals against a key portion of this development that would establish a $2.5 million, 25,000-square-foot Woodland Hardware store.
These appeals will be handled by the Board of Adjustment during a hearing scheduled for June 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the city council chambers. And this is just the first phase of what could turn into an extended protest period and delay this project for months. If property owners are still unhappy, they can take their cases before the District Court. At last week’s regular meeting, Councilwoman Carrol Harvey, who serves on the DDA board, announced much progress for the DDA’s two other projects near the Country Lodge property, outside the Gold Hill Square Shopping Center.
These developments call for a new Family Dollar and O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. But unfortunately, the main anchor of the project dealing with Woodland Hardware, has hit a few hurdles, noted Harvey. It’s still unclear how this will impact the overall project from a time deadline. DDA authorities were hoping to complete all three of their building projects by the end of the year. That timing is critical as the city is issuing extra bonds for the DDA, allowing the group to incur another $1 million or so in debt. The recent appeals were filed by Ron Konieczny, who owns an adjacent building, and Tom Lichina, owner of Lichina Auto and Truck Repair. For several weeks, negotiations occurred between city officials and adjacent business operators over the site plans for the new hardware building. Most of the concerns dealt with parking, view corridor impacts and design features.
The project proponents made a key concession by agreeing to eliminate a rather controversial tower feature and toning down certain aspects of the site plans. In a recent interview, City Manager David Buttery expressed optimism that the vast majority of the concerns were resolved. But he conceded that parking and certain perceived view impacts hadn’t been quite satisfied in the opinions of a few nearby business owners. Last week, the council granted a request by head attorney Erin Smith to pay for the services of a specialized expert from her firm in handling these types of cases. This special attorney will represent the Board of Adjustment. These costs could exceed $2,000, based on the hourly rate her firm charges. Buttery, though, assured the council that it does budget for these types of situations that involve outside attorneys. No more recycling drop offs in Woodland Park In other city news, the city has once again lost a popular recycling center. Last week, a center at the Wal-Mart shopping center, and operated by Waste Management free of charge has been temporarily closed due to the continual illegal dumping that occurs at this site. All recycling dumpsters have been removed. A public notice indicated that problems have developed due to certain people who are using this site for dumping their personal garbage and even dangerous materials. Buttery conceded that this is an unfortunate development and that officials hope to pursue more talks with managers from Wal-Mart and Waste Management.
Several council members queried Buttery about enacting better security at the site and even pursuing action against the illegal trash dumpers. “I have seen chairs dumped there,” said Councilman Terry Harrison, who was quite upset over this turn of events. “It’s a Wal-Mart issue,” replied the city manager. “It’s unfortunate that a very small minority are abusing this service,” said Buttery, following last week’s meeting. This marks the second time a recycling service has been suspended at the Wal-Mart location because of the illegal actions of trash dumpers. An earlier recycling operation was run by Teller Waste. The Waste Management operation made it quite easy for residents to recycle various items from newspapers and plastic bottles to cans. Questions have still been raised regarding whether the closure is permanent or just a temporary situation. In the meantime, residents can use a recycling center at Waste Management’s transfer site in Divide.