Sweet Pea permit talks continue in Steamboat

Co-owner meets with architect, officials to discuss permitting

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Sweet Pea Market and Cafe is at 729 Yampa St. in downtown Steamboat Springs. Sweet Pea is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Call 970-879-1221 or visit http://sweetpeamarket.com.

— Owners of Sweet Pea Market and Cafe will face additional building permit fees when installing a second bathroom to meet state regulations after expanding this spring.

Conversations about that permitting process continued Monday. Sweet Pea co-owner Jonathon Hieb sat down with an architect and Carl Dunham, of the Routt County Regional Building Department, to discuss the need for a new building permit for the Yampa Street business, as well as plans for an additional bathroom needed to keep Sweet Pea compliant with state regulations.

Dunham and Hieb discussed the logistics for the new project, including safety issues, sanitation issues and the need to obtain proper permitting.

Sweet Pea expanded its deck and outdoor dining area this spring. Its expanded deck has more than 10 multi-seat tables. Fifteen seats is the state’s limit for a food establishment with one bathroom. Sweet Pea currently has one, unisex bathroom.

The expansion also changed Sweet Pea’s designation with the Building Department.

Dunham said the expansion occurred before Hieb acquired the building permit required to change the market from a mercantile operation to a restaurant operation. Because of that, Dunham said, Hieb and co-owner Katherine Zambrana will need to pay a double permit fee for the installation of the second bathroom.

Hieb could not be reached Mon­day. He previously said that he’s been working with Dunham and the Routt County Environmental Health Department to address compliance issues. Hieb also has said he fully intends to comply with regulations, but might not do so until after the busy summer tourism season.

“I am trying to take steps to make this right, and (county officials) are working with me,” he said earlier this month.

Mike Zopf, di­­rector of the Routt County Envi­ron­mental Health De­­part­ment, has said department staff is inspecting Sweet Pea every 10 days to document the continued noncompliance, which causes a financial penalty to increase with time. Zopf said his department, following state protocol, has the authority to assess three fines in a year, meaning Sweet Pea could pay as much as $3,000.

Dunham said new plans to reflect Sweet Pea’s change from a mercantile operation to a restaurant operation are needed as soon as they can be drawn.

“At first, the things we were told he was doing were not in a situation he needed a new permit for,” Dunham said. “However, there were other things done at the market that were not covered in the original permit.”

Hieb has said the issue arose after a “communication breakdown” as plans changed for Sweet Pea’s renovations.

He’s said the compliance process has been very positive and collaborative.

Dunham acknowledged that Building Department regulations apply to all.

“Everyone should be treated equally and everyone should play by the same rules,” Dunham said Monday, as he discussed the need for businesses to obtain proper permitting for construction projects.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 871-4210 or e-mail scottfranz@steamboatpilot.com

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