The Steamboat Springs City Council approved the opening of Peak Fitness Center at the corner of 11th and Lincoln Avenue but on the condition that the parking requirements be worked out with city staff members.
After hearing gym members and owner Tara Nultemeier's plea to not require the 15 parking spaces needed under the code, the council agreed not to enforce the stringent parking regulations.
Instead, they asked that City Planning Director Steve Stamey create a new definition for Nultemeier's business that would require fewer parking spaces than required under the description of a health club. The council plans to review the revised parking requirement at its next meeting July 13, and in the interim, Nultemeier can open for business.
"A lot of people ask me the definition of hoo-haw, and I think this is it," Councilwoman Kathy Connell said of the strict parking requirements. "We need to find a way to help young local entrepreneurs and put our action where our mouths are."
Nultemeier came before the council asking to convert the building at the corner of 11th Street and Lincoln Avenue from a retail space to a health club, a conditional use under the city's code. Nultemeier objected to language in the code that required one parking space for every 100 square feet.
Peak Fitness Center's net floor area is 1,500 square feet, which would require 15 onsite spaces. The applicant had two onsite spaces in front of the building, and another three spaces were credited for a proposed bike rack.
Nultemeier had a list of nearby property owners who said they had extra spaces the health club could use, but none was willing to sign long-term parking leases, Nultemeier said.
The other required 10 spaces could be covered by a fee in lieu of spaces, which would have cost Nultemeier $100,000 and could have put an end to the business, health club supporters said.
Nultemeier noted that her facility is not nearly as busy as the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center; her club averages four to six users at a time. And Nultemeier read a list of other Colorado municipalities that had far less stringent requirements for parking for smaller health clubs such as the one she owns.
Council members agreed that Nultemeier's business did not generate the activity of the Health and Rec Center and should be under a separate definition. They also said they wanted to encourage locally owned, downtown businesses.
"Small businesses can't afford that kind of money. Business is tough enough," Councilman Loui Antonucci said.
The council did not say how many parking spaces would be appropriate for the business, leaving the numbers to the planning staff and applicant to work out.
By revising the parking requirements, council members said they would not have to waive the fees in lieu of parking or set a precedent for not requiring the parking stipulated in the code.
In other business:
n The City Council approved the preliminary plat for Sundance North, a two-lot commercial subdivision in the northeast corner of Anglers Drive.
n The council approved the development plan and final development plan of a conditional use allowing Yampa Blue to have outdoor sales and approved its existing farmers market booths and display areas. Yampa Blue is at 735 Yampa St.
n The council approved the development plan for three warehouse buildings in the Elk River Business Park.
n The council read a proclamation recognizing Cookie Lockhart for her generous collaboration with the city to protect the Yampa River and share a legacy of place for all of Steamboat Springs and Colorado to enjoy. Lockhart sold the city a 6-acre parcel that is adjacent to Rotary Park.
n City Council President Paul Strong was elected president for the Colorado Association of Ski Towns.
n City Council member Ken Brenner was elected to the statewide board of the Colorado Municipal League.