WP Council to decide fate of Lofthouse project this week – Robert Volpe

The Woodland Park City Council tackled a variety of issues at their May 5 meeting, and set the wheels in motion for okaying a highly publicized workforce housing project at the former Lofthouse motel site.

A final decision on the Lofthouse renovation application is slated for this Thursday.

The meeting began with a presentation of the “Keep America Beautiful 2015 President’s Circle Recognition Award” for standards of excellence in 2015. The city is proud to have been recognized for this award and will continue to strive to make Woodland Park a beautiful place to live and recreate.

The next order of business was to fill four vacant positions on the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. Karla Schweitzer, Marty McKenna, Dee Dejung, and Trudie Layton were appointed to the board by unanimous vote. Their terms expire in 2018. Council also approved a motion to allow for residents who do not live within city limits to serve on the advisory board.

There were several ordinances brought up for initial posting, which generally represents the first review of new proposed laws or permit requests.

Ordinance 1239 will allow for a vacate of the interior lot line and associated utility and drainage easement between lots 2 and 4, Paradise of Colorado Filing No. 1 It was approved. Public hearing is set for June 2.

Ordinance 1280 will allow for a request for a Conditional Use Permit and site plan review by Habitat for Humanity of Teller County in the central business district. This request would permit the renovation of the vacant Lofthouse Motel into nine condominiums for workforce housing. The first reading of the ordinance was approved and the final public hearing was set for May 19. No public comment occurred on this request at the May 5 meeting, despite the strong media attention for this project.

This issue is unique in that work began on the project on May 11, several days before the date of the final public hearing.

Woodland Park Planning Director, Sally Riley, explained why Habitat was able to begin the project before the public hearing. She noted that Habitat obtained two permits for the event. First – a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) to allow for an event that closed Henrietta Avenue and ensured that all event logistics were addressed (i.e., sanitation, trash, safety, security, insurance, etc.). Second – a Demolition Zoning Development Permit was issued to ensure that all utilities were disconnected properly; rubbish removal was handled; photos were provided to document the historical nature of the building; and any other conditions of approval necessary to complete a safe demo.

Neither one of these permits (TUP and Demo) are directly tied to the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for residential use under the zoning regulations, according to Riley. A property owner can host an event and complete a partial demolition no matter what use is planned for the future of the property. Habitat understands that they have some risk of the CUP not being approved by City Council but it is small risk since the Planning Commission recommended approval (unanimously) at their April 28th public hearing.

In another pro-housing matter, Ordinance 1281 was passed on initial posting to amend the Woodland Park Municipal Code to allow for up to two dwelling units within the same structure as a permitted use conditionally in the Neighborhood Commercial, Community Commercial and Central Business District areas.

This ordinance is aimed at providing more affordable housing options in the city.

There was no opposition to the two ordinances that were up for public hearing on May 5 and both were approved by the council.

These included Ordinance 1278, a Conditional Use Permit by 101 Boundary St in the Community Commercial District to allow one residential dwelling. This was a commercial property that will become a residence.

The council also approved Ordinance 1279 to vacate a 6 square foot portion of a 20-foot wide Utility Easement and a 41 square foot portion of a 50-foot wide Utility and Drainage Easement located on Lot 1, Trail Ridge subdivision as requested by the owner. This was an accidental encroachment by the builders of the Trail Ridge apartments on underground city utilities.

In other action, Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young sought approval for a new School Resource Officer (SRO) position contingent upon grant funding and a budget amendment to allow for a grant funded position. This position will be added to the two current school resource officers employed by the Woodland Park Police Department. De Young secured funding in the amount of $24,000 per year for a full time officer who will be committed to filling the SRO’s primary role of teaching DARE, drug /alcohol classes as well as many of the other educational/teaching obligations they have. Funding will be provided by a grant from Senate Bill 94 (marijuana education and prevention funding). The proposal was passed by the council.