Woodland Park Council Amends DDA Boundaries

~ by Bob Volpe ~

The Woodland Park City Council  approved two ordinances at last week’s meeting, including plans to expand the   boundaries of the downtown development authority (DDA) district.

 The first ordinance was an initial reading of a recommendation by the DDA to include the Paradise Lodge Marketplace Subdivision property into the DDA district.

 This plan, though, was questioned by Woodland Park Councilman  Paul Saunier, who raised concerns on just how much more property was going to become part of the DDA area. His concern is that tax increment finance (TIF) agreements by the DDA, amounting to incentive packages for future business owners, are hurting emergency service funding. Saunier questioned, “Why do we keep expanding the DDA?” The councilman specifically expressed concerns  regarding  the amount of potential tax revenue that local emergency services are losing, as result of the  DDA-related TIF agreements.

But since the property in question is bound on all sides by the existing DDA district, the point was raised as to why this Paradise Lodge area was not already included in the district. Apparently, the DDA thought it was included but somehow it slipped through the cracks when the district was formed, according to DDA officials.

 Saunier agreed that given the proximity of the property to existing DDA areas, that it does make sense to include it within the district boundaries. However, he noted, “I will tell you,  if another DDA thing comes up like this, I don’t think I’ll ever vote for it.”

A final public hearing on this issue will be held at the next council meeting.

 Another ordinance approved by the council involved updating code statues regarding accessory buildings and setbacks on commercial properties.. This was the second reading of this ordinance, and a final public hearing was held last week.

The  new proposed code allows for a maximum of two accessory building per lot on commercial property. Each accessory building is not to exceed the size of the main commercial building. Plus, any building over 120 square feet must adhere to existing building department regulations, including permits, engineering, and architectural approval.  The ordinance also restricts the location  in which a business may erect an accessory building..

 Jerry Good, of the Williams Log Furniture store, who also serves as a board member of the DDA group, spoke out against the ordinance. Goof argued that the city council is infringing on business property owners’ rights to use their property in a manner they see fit.

 Good said he recently purchased a building with the express purpose of using it as a place to expand his storage capability for his business by adding storage sheds on the property. Good’s new building has no side or back areas, which are the only areas the ordinance allows for storage buildings to be placed, leaving him little options for utilizing the space.

The planning commission response to Good’s situation was that he has other options. Those options, however, would require a substantial expense on Good’s part, according to the business owner’s analysis of the situation.