The Hotchkiss Town Council approved an ordinance amending the zoning code for the C-2 Mixed Use district. The ordinance, which was unanimously passed on Nov. 8, allows new uses within existing structures to provide only one-half of the off-street parking previously required.
The ordinance is seen as a way to better encourage new businesses to locate in the core downtown area.
In current zoning code, Appendix A requires specific numbers of off-street parking spaces depending upon the use.
Now, if a new use is established within an existing structure on real property along Bridge Street from Third Street to Fifth Street and from Oak Street to Pinon Street, the requirement for off-street parking spaces is cut in half.
Town attorney Jim Briscoe thanked Tom Wills for his draft of the ordinance. Wills said he noticed how the ordinance was working and saw a way to update it so it would work better.
The council members had just received a draft ordinance covering sidewalks in November. The sidewalk ordinance amendment will be discussed at the Dec. 13 town council meeting.
The proposed draft ordinance would replace sections of the town code concerning the responsibility of the property owner regarding construction and maintenance of sidewalks within town limits, including the construction of new sidewalks. It would also cover commercial use of sidewalks within town limits and establishing procedures and policies for repair and replacement of existing sidewalks and constructing new sidewalks where none exist.
The draft ordinance states that the Hotchkiss Planning Commission and the board of Hotchkiss trustees believe the current sidewalk ordinance needs to be updated, amended and expanded.
The trustees believe a reasonable use of C-1 Zone sidewalks by adjacent retail merchants without fee or permit is a Hotchkiss tradition and a benefit to the town and those businesses. Therefore, merchants in C-1 who use their adjacent sidewalk are exempt from the permit and license fee.
Any other obstruction of streets or sidewalks for commercial use will require a permit from the town clerk and payment of a license fee.
Regarding construction and repair of sidewalks by property owners and the town upon town right-of-ways, "it is the obligation of every owner of real property within the town to maintain any existing sidewalk abutting such real property in a safe and useful condition as proscribed by the town."
For new residential or business construction, any new sidewalks or replacement sidewalks will done at the expense of the property owner or developer. The town may allow funds to be placed in an escrow account for future sidewalk construction.
When the town determines needed repairs or replacement of existing sub-standard sidewalks, "the abutting property owner(s) shall be liable for one-half of the total costs of such repair or replacement or new construction unless the repair is of a section of less that twenty-five (25) feet in which case the property owner is liable for the full costs incurred by the Town." The property owners are to be notified by certified mail of the upcoming project "as far in advance as is practical with ninety (90) days being the minimum."
Property owners are responsible for submitting full payment for their allotted share within 30 days after receiving a bill from the town. Failure to pay the full billed amount within 30 days shall result in additional monthly fees being charged for a period of two years. Any balance still due may result in a lien being placed on the property by the Delta County Treasurer.
The complete draft ordinance is available at town hall for those citizens wishing to read the ordinance for themselves.
The next Hotchkiss Town Council meeting is Thursday, Dec. 13. It begins at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited.
At that meeting the council will also vote on the 2013 budget. Copies of the proposed budget are also available at town hall.