Oak Creek Town Board amends land-use code

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— On Thursday night, the Oak Creek Town Board voted, 3-1, to approve an ordinance amending the town’s land-use code.

At the Town Board’s Jan. 26 meeting, a petition for a citizen-led ballot initiative seeking to amend the land-use code was approved. The petition’s representatives, Oak Creek property owner Scott Wedel and resident Kerry Eaton, met Feb. 3 with Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen and Oak Creek Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Gustafson to discuss the land-use code. The resulting ordinance satisfied the concerns of the petitioners, and Wedel and Eaton submitted letters indicating their intentions to withdraw the petition if the ordinance was passed unchanged.

In a form submitted to the Town Board, Page-Allen indicated that neither Gustafson nor she objected to any of the proposed revisions in the ordinance.

“I think this is good for the town,” Gustafson said at the meeting.

The focus of the petition submitted by Wedel and Eaton was Oak Creek’s Performance District 1, which forms the central part of Oak Creek, including Main Street.

The approved ordinance removes some restrictions placed on land-use changes within the district and opens the pre-application work-session process to changes in any performance district.

Possible changes to other sections of the land-use code and other performance districts are slated to be discussed at a Planning Commission meeting in March. The final public hearing for other land-use code changes is April 12.

Trustee Chuck Wisecup voted against the ordinance.

“While I agree some of it’s good, I also believe we’re going to end up gutting” the land-use code, Wisecup said.

“It’s going to be a living document,” Mayor Nikki Knoebel said. “Once you put it in place, there might be something that doesn’t work, and you might just have to change it.”

Trustee Johrene Meyers-Story was not in attendance. Dawn Smith previously had submitted a letter of resignation stating her intent to step down from the Town Board. She was not in attendance. “I feel very blessed to live in a place where kindness and care are the norm and not the exception,” Smith wrote in her letter.

The Town Board voted, 4-0, to table indefinitely the ordinance to bring the petition to voters.

The Town Board also voted, 4-0, to support an application for a Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund grant to continue revitalization work at Decker Park.

The laundry list of projects includes trail construction, upgrades to bathrooms and concessions and a full basketball court. Once the costs are tallied, the decision will be made to apply for a $70,000 or a $45,000 grant. The resolution was passed with an amendment stating the matching funds will come from LiveWell Colorado.

In other action, the Town Board:

■ Voted, 4-0, to approve an resolution officially appointing Page-Allen as town administrator, as is required by law. She has been working part time, at an hourly rate of $26.44. She will start full time Feb. 27 with a base salary of $55,000 per year, a $17,000 per-year contribution to a 457(b) retirement plan and other benefits offered by Oak Creek, excluding health and dental insurance.

■ Voted, 4-0, to give Page-Allen the authority to appoint election judges.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4254 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 years, 2 months ago

The critical important change is that now a business, office or retail, can move into an existing commercial building (in downtown Oak Creek) without taking weeks or months to get Planning Board and Town Board approvals. And is thus like Steamboat, Hayden, Yampa and the rest of Routt County.

Another important change are that the existing houses and apartments in downtown are no longer grandfathered nonconforming uses, but are now allowed uses. And a lot of cleanup of the land use code so it is clear and far less ambiguous and thus land use in Oak Creek should be far less arbitrary and capricious.

The initiative basically took the viewpoint that the planning process was so onerous, arbitrary and capricious that the sort of uses that exist and have been approved in the recent past are allowed without waiting weeks and months. The ordinance 615 is the result of meeting with Mary Alice, an experienced planner, and Jeff, head of planning board, and fixing the ambiguous and illogical stuff. It took the initiative's one page list of more severe changes into five pages of changes fixing the underlying issues in the land use code.

Some of the approved changes suggest similar changes for the rest of the land use districts including removing silly stuff like it making a big difference for the planning review process if a remodel includes a structural change. As if Oak Creek Planning Board was a bunch of structural engineers and also the building codes dept.

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