The City of Delta has taken what city manager David Torgler describes as its first tangible step toward eliminating blight. The city is finalizing a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs that will cover the cost of demolition of West's Home Center, 327 Main Street, and create a pedestrian passage connecting Main Street and the large parking area on the opposite side of the vacant store.
The grant is the culmination of months of study involving five prospective properties in the city. Three were determined to be historic, which would require extensive assessments. The fourth, the quonset hut at 520 Highway 92 formerly occupied by Odyssey Construction, is under private ownership. Under the conditions of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the city has to own the property in order for grant funding to be used for remediation, and the property owner doesn't want to sell to the city.
That leaves West's Home Center. The project will not only eliminate a building that's been vacant for several years, it will provide access to off-Main Street parking lots and a place for people to sit outside safely and comfortably.
The grant of $234,402 will require a $38,158 match from the city.
The only grant restriction is that the property must be used for public purposes for a minimum of five years. At the Feb. 6 city council meeting, Torgler said DOLA wants to make sure communities aren't buying properties with federal dollars just to flip them.
Cost of property acquisition is estimated at $38,000, which is the value of the property as determined by the county assessor. The city has not initiated discussions with the property owner, nor has it worked on the design for the pass-through. Torgler said the city has been hesitant to incur any expenses related to the project until they're reimbursable under the grant. He said the city attorney is ready to move forward, and estimates he'll need about eight weeks to close the deal.
"As we look toward the future, this is one of those first concrete steps we take as we continue marching forward with DURA and future projects," said council member Christopher Ryan.
In other business, the city heard from a prospective business owner who wants to sell modular homes from a location on Highway 50 North. Jeff Wauldbauer said he owns similar businesses in Casper and Lander, Wyo., and would like to display up to three new modular homes so customers can see what they're buying. The property is zoned B-2, which does not allow modular home sales. Wauldbauer has asked the City of Delta to amend B-2 zoning regulations to include modular home sales and service as a conditional use.
Council members considered his request at a work session preceding the regular meeting, but decided to table action after agreeing they needed additional time to consider the matter. While the request came from a specific business, any changes to zoning regulations would affect all B-2 properties.
During the work session, council members continued an ongoing discussion on zoning for marijuana establishments. While the sale of marijuana is currently not allowed in city limits, a petition was being circulated that could have changed that picture. Although the petition has been withdrawn, council and staff have put a great deal of work into zoning regulations. They agreed to finalize wording for the proposed regulations, then set them aside until they're needed. Council member Ron Austin said that in other municipalities, adoption of zoning regulations for marijuana establishments has been viewed as tacit approval for such establishments.
Since the petition has been withdrawn, there was also a brief discussion about whether the two questions addressing taxation of retail marijuana and marijuana products should be included in the April ballot.
Torgler strongly recommended the questions remain on the ballot, since such questions can go to the voters only during certain times of the year. City clerk Jolene Nelson added that since the ballot has already been certified with the county, it may not be possible to pull those questions. Council agreed, and the election will proceed with the taxing questions and two city council seats.
A collaborative effort between the Delta County Sheriff's Office and municipal law enforcement agencies throughout Delta County has resulted in a proposal for a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund public safety. A PowerPoint presentation titled "Back the Badge" is starting to make the rounds at city/town council meetings, service club luncheons and other events.