Board OKs Hayden rezoning

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An odd parcel of land on the east end of Hayden next to the old windmill will now be open to commercial uses.

The Hayden Town Board on Thursday approved Ron and Keri Romine's request to rezone as commercial five residential lots in the 600 block of East Jefferson Avenue. The lots to the east of the parcel are commercial and those on all other sides are residential.

The prospect of a 24-hour gas station or other business occupying the space concerned some neighbors, who expressed their opposition at the meeting.

"I'm all for growth in Hayden, but you also have to look at people who have been here a long time," said Jorde Neumiller, a Hayden resident for 25 years.

Rod Neumiller was concerned about increased noise and traffic, while Joe Kennedy focused on the light pollution that might accompany a business.

Trustee Ken Gibbon sided with neighbors and recommended the board wait to rezone the area until the town confirms its vision for downtown Hayden.

"I'm against changing zoning blindly if we don't know what's going in there," argued Gibbon, who opposed the motion to approve rezoning the lots.

Don Johnson, vice chairman of the Hayden Economic Development Commission, was among several residents expressing support for the rezoning proposal.

"It's our general consensus that this zoning should be allowed," he said of the commission while noting that there is no open space available for commercial building in downtown Hayden.

Trustee Joe Schminkey emphasized, as the Hayden Planning Commission did last week, that discussion shouldn't focus on potential uses, but whether the parcel should be commercial.

"I don't see a problem with it," he said. "It's a very appropriate property with Highway 40 frontage."

Mayor Chuck Grobe agreed, adding that the request was a good opportunity to clean up irregular zoning.

"It just kind of makes sense to straighten the boundaries for now," he said.

Trustee Lorraine Johnson reassured residents neighboring the lots that all their concerns regarding future proposed uses would be addressed at the planning level.

Also Thursday, the board approved Town Manager Russ Martin's request to use available funds from a Gates Foundation grant to develop a plan for revitalizing downtown Hayden. The grant is being used to revise the town's comprehensive plan in preparation for inevitable growth in the area.

The board also agreed to Martin's request to seek permission for the Gates Foundation to use available grant funds to devise a plan for parks, trails and open space projects in Hayden. Both plans would be components of the town's updated comprehensive plan.

"I think we're all in agreement it's a great idea," Gibbon said.

In other business, the board agreed to write a letter of support for the Nature Conservancy's application for a Great Outdoors Colorado Grant to purchase conservation easements on about 6,500 acres of land on Wolf Mountain Ranch.

The organization is seeking to preserve the land, which occupies 1.5 miles along the north side of the Yampa River above the Carpenter Ranch, in three phases.

The easements would eliminate potential for future development on the land. Ranch owner Bob Waltrip still would own and manage the land.

The process of annexing the Routt County Fairgrounds and Dry Creek Park will proceed with the board's approval Thursday of the final version of the annexation agreement between the town and Routt County.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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