Major Impact Review controversy stalls Salida City Council’s decision – by Ark Valley Voice staff
In a session that lasted nearly four hours on Tuesday, Salida City Council covered a variety of topics, but again spent most of the evening on land use and housing.
Citizen Comment focuses on “Safe Spaces” camping
Three speakers took up topics on workforce housing from Monday’s working session. Cory “Salty” Riggs of BETCH Salida began by supporting the idea of the “Safe Spaces” campground that the City has proposed for parking behind the Touber building.
She noted that on Tuesday (April 5, time unconfirmed) she had counted 33 open parking spaces and asked the City to expand any overnight use to all day. Additionally, she announced that the owner of the parking lot at 323 West First Street (Eric Werner, Salida Bottling LLC) had agreed to let the band use his land if the city could work out a land use code and other issues. .
Angela Winston from Highside! Bar & Grill also talked about the potential campsite (323 West First) that BETCH found. “Small businesses are not going to last without affordable housing… I would like to know when a concrete date when there will be a decision made [about this campground]“, she said. When Winston insisted a third time on an immediate response, Mayor Shore repeated his offer to speak to him offline.
Finally, regarding the same parcel at 323 West First, owner/developer Eric Werner said his major impact review was also on the agenda and that he “didn’t want to confuse those two topics or think of any way that there was a sort of quid pro quo going on. He confirmed his offer to use the land as an interim camping solution until his project could be approved and move forward, as extension of the camping idea of the Touber car park.
Order 2022-05 approved; Inclusive Housing Improvements for Workforce Housing
Community Development Director Bill Almquist introduced second reading changes to four sections of Section 16 of the municipal code, adding tools to help with workforce housing. During the public hearing, resident Scotty Salinski questioned why the city isn’t using Vandaveer’s nearly 100-acre property and said it…”meets 90% of the [housing] problems that I heard about this evening”.
The council broadly supported the ordinance, including a minor amendment. However, Council member Mike Pollack said that with more details on inclusive housing he had trouble with the increasing complexity of the Code. The ordinance as amended passed 5 to 1 with Pollack opposed.
Order 2022-06 Filing of Major Impact Review for Salida Bottling Company Residences
Spanning over 90 minutes, a second reading and public hearing for a 16-unit planned development (PD) at 323 West First Street heard multiple concerns from members of council as well as the public. The main objection was to a proposed height deviation, granting 40ft height on some of the buildings, which if granted could set a precedent for deviations from the city’s 35ft height limit .
In his opening remarks, candidate Eric Warner introduced his team and said this project aligns with the city’s density goals. He said he and his team “share a vision of quality. From day one, they wanted it to be a quality project. Addressing the height, Werner noted that “change is hard”.
He further suggested that while his project was ahead of the curve, Salida could soon see heights above the current 35ft limit. Historic buildings now exist taller than the current land use code height restriction. Responding to a question from Mayor Shore, City Planner Dunleavy confirmed that the Unique Theater is 42 feet at its parapet and the Palace Hotel is 45 feet (both historic structures predate all city codes).
Council members continued to dwell on the height variation as well as the three inclusive housing units planned as part of the project. Citing the “give and take” of a PD, Council members Kasper, Naccarato and Critelli pushed hard for getting an inclusive fourth dwelling as a compromise for height and density discrepancies. Council member Pollack said the project was great and he was not concerned about the height.
Discussion shifted to the project’s higher roof “domes”, intended to allow “roof access”. The project’s architect, Kenny Craft, called them “lookouts”. A gazebo (Italian for “fair view”) is an architectural structure located to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view. The structure itself can be of any shape, be it a turret, a cupola or an open gallery.
In this case, these are considered amenities; while not providing more critical habitable interior space, they could allow for a terrace. Council members Templeton, Pappenfort and Naccarato argued for some form of green space on the roof, if permitted, as opposed to “party space” where sounds could cause problems with neighbours.
Jeff Westcott of 217 I Street spoke on behalf of himself and his two neighbors on West Second Street, saying, “we don’t oppose the project…we oppose the requested height deviations.” He referred council members to a letter in their packets and a photo he took, showing a digitally drawn elevation line at the 40ft level and the impact on his eyesight.
He cited studies of view corridors, noting that the north-south corridor has not been studied and that a height of 40 feet would eliminate their views north to “S” Mountain. He then pointed to the city’s enforcement and code which states that “maximum height increases are permitted through a PD, but must not result in:
- Adverse visual impacts to adjacent sites or other nearby areas, including extreme contrast, interruption of views, or disproportionate scale to surrounding development or natural features.
- Potential problems for adjacent sites caused by shadows, loss of air circulation or loss of view.
Tim Schultz spoke on behalf of his neighbor across from the project on West First Street, “River Rat Ray” of Tuff River Stuff. He asked “…[with all the variances], what does it bring to the community? Inclusive housing but at what cost? Scotty Salinski of Purple Mountain Acquisitions spoke for West First Street neighbor Julius Wittenberg. He cited the density of the project as well as the maintenance of the project’s private utilities as his concerns, as well as the impact of his own (Salinski’s) office views on West First.
Given the extensive discussion regarding the project and the consensus that it broadly met urban infill housing goals, Mayor Shore suggested tabling the matter; allow time for staff and the applicant to work through public and board input. Unanimously, the order is filed for four weeks.
As the evening entered its third hour, the board considered and moved forward on several items. Chaffee County Community Foundation (CCCF) Executive Director Betsy Dittenber presented the committee’s recommendations for community grants totaling $85,857 for 33 area nonprofits, supporting their operations. Dittenber thanked the eight volunteers who each spent 25 hours evaluating the competitive grants and she in turn was thanked by the mayor and council for the FCCC’s leadership role in the annual process.
In time for spring and while the students are still in school, the board then heard a proposal from local entrepreneurs TerraQuest for an incentive program to fund a “Clean Commute” program. Salida would be among the first communities to provide cash incentives to help change behaviors and reduce carbon emissions. The program would pay $0.50 per mile for each participant’s car trip replaced by walking, biking or e-bike.
A mobile app, paired with PayPal or Venmo, would automatically pay around 1,000 participants during the challenge. With a reduction target of 10 tonnes (metric) of carbon, the program has a cost of $11,270 in incentives and fees. Sponsored by the Salida City Council’s sustainability committee, the measure passed unanimously.
After passing motions approving two 30-minute extensions beyond the usual scheduled meeting time of 2 hours, the board further approved Resolution 2022-13, authorizing a grant application and committing matching funds for improvements along US 291 at Salida’s West Gate near the hospital campus. A household ” Order 2022-07 also passed, which increases maximum financial penalties and eliminates jail time for certain offenses, bringing the city into line with Colorado state law.
After brief reports from council and the mayor, and narrowly avoiding another extension of time, city council moved to table a scheduled executive session regarding the city administrator’s performance review and adjourn it.