Hayden to consider shrinking historic downtown district

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What: Public meetings on potential Hayden historic district rezoning

When: 3 to 8 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 to 6 p.m. May 24; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 25

Where: Hayden Town Hall

Cost: Free

— The town of Hayden will consider shrinking its historic downtown district to make it easier for new businesses to move into the area.

The town’s Economic Development Commission has asked the Town Council and the Hayden Planning Commission to limit the historic district, which currently is five blocks long and two to three blocks wide, to a four-block area immediately around Walnut Street. Some parts of the existing historic district could be relabeled commercial and industrial zones to make it easier for businesses to renovate and move into existing structures, Economic Development Commission co-chairman Rodney McGowen said.

“The historic district is too big right now,” he said Monday. “If you read its zoning (guidelines), it’s very limiting as to what you can do, especially with the renovation of a new building. If you were wanting to come into Hayden and set up a new business, it would be really difficult for you to develop it according to the historic guidelines.”

McGowen said in the historic district, setback and renovation rules are stricter than in commercial and industrial zones, and the regulations ultimately can deter new businesses from moving in.

But before any portion of the town is rezoned, Hayden’s Planning Commission will host four public meetings this month to hear from business owners who could be affected by changes to the historic district.

Town Manager David Torgler said the only feedback he’s received so far has come from a local business owner who called the plan to shrink the historic district a “Kum & Go conspiracy.”

The gas station last year attempted to relocate and expand on a lot at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Walnut Street, but its efforts were hindered by historic downtown zoning rules that disallow gas stations in the area. Torgler said Monday that the discussions the town will hold this month about the historic district have nothing to do with the gas station and are a response to a proposal put forth by the Economic Development Commission. He added the potential rezoning will ultimately foster economic growth.

“I think rezoning part of the downtown area will have a positive impact on the economic redevelopment opportunity” in Hayden, Torgler said.

He said the potential changes to the zones are some of the many things that will help the town attract new businesses.

“There isn’t one magic pill you can take” to revitalize Hayden’s business community, Torgler said. “It really is a combination of having a business-friendly community, having people within the community who are in favor of economic development and willing to accept changes that come with it and also having the right codes in place so you can be responsive when property owners come in” and propose changes to the zoning.

But not all of Hayden’s business leaders are convinced the historic district’s boundaries have hindered economic growth.

“I don’t think it’s been inhibitive,” Economic Development Commission secretary and Yampa Valley Feeds owner Tammie Delaney said. “Unfortunately, there have not been a lot of businesses proposed in the last five years, but I don’t think it’s because of the zoning. I think it’s because it’s the worst economic climate we’ve seen in 70 years. I don’t think zoning is going to fix the issue. I think we need to focus on maintaining great schools and on building a great community to live, work and play in.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

Hayden's Historic Downtown District


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