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Edesia passes six-month special use permit review

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In the six months since being issued special use permits by the Town of Paonia, only one complaint against Edesia Community Kitchen was received by the town.

Following numerous public discussions and a public hearing that stretched into two board meetings, last summer the board approved special use permits for Edesia for fabrication and manufacturing of prepared and packaged food, fruit and produce processing, public/private schools, and use as a restaurant. Because the uses were not permitted by right under town zoning laws, a hearing and permits were required in order for Edesia to continue its operations.

Both a restaurant and special events permits were required to allow Edesia to host evening dinner fundraisers. To satisfy complaints by several neighbors, limits were set on traffic, noise, odors, outdoor smoking, signage, handicap access, parking, lighting and dust mitigation.

In approving the special use permits, the board of trustees held a requisite six-month compliance review at the Jan. 22 board meeting.

With the exception of Edesia's closest neighbors, no complaints were received prior to scheduling the compliance review, said town administrator Ken Knight. Once the review was announced, the town received a letter from Carol Viner with Masters & Viner, P.C. in Montrose on behalf of clients John Cowell and Callie West, whose home is located adjacent to Edesia. The letter accused owner Mary George of "a lack of compliance as to most of the conditions and limitations of use set by the Trustees."

With the exception of placing a shield on a motion-sensitive light located on the corner nearest the neighbors, which George said she's willing to shield to direct the light downward, "There's a lot of things here that are not in our control that they're asking us to do, that is not our responsibility," said George.

She said she's happy to meet with town staff and administrator Ken Knight to review the list of complaints. "But a lot of these things we've already done."

In addressing parking on Clark Avenue, a narrow section of street with no shoulder or designated parking spots, George said all Edesia customers are asked to not park on the street. She suggested that the cars parked on Clark that resulted in the complaint are associated with the adjacent Silver Leaf housing project.

"It is not our job to police parking on a public street," said George. "We cannot control who parks on Clark Avenue."

"I think that my clients would be willing to sit down and discuss these issues" with the town administrator or a mediator, said Viner.

Trustees voted to have town staff to meet with both parties to review permit requirements, and to report to the board of trustees by the Feb. 26 meeting.

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