Rumblings of a Dollar General coming to Paonia are no longer rumor. Paonia town administrator Ken Knight confirmed Wednesday that on June 10 the town received a petition for annexation from Vaquero Paonia Partners, LP. "Coopendata," a database of companies registered in Colorado, lists a Fort Worth, Texas, address for Vaquero.
Earlier this week a request bid from the "Western Colorado Contractors Association Weekly Project Listing" for a 9,100-square-foot "ground up Dollar General" ended up on the Facebook Paonia Message Board. The post drew immediate responses lamenting the proposal, concern for local businesses that could be affected, and anger toward the town and Delta County for what some perceive as a done deal made behind closed doors.
The accusations of closed-door dealings are without merit, said Knight. "Yes, I have been in contact with Vaquero. That's my job." But to present anything to the public prior the petition coming before the town board of trustees would be inappropriate for this or any other development proposal.
Vaquero is requesting a "C-2 Community Commercial District" zone for the parcel. The zoning is different from the C-1 Core Commercial District zoning, which supports businesses and facilities in line with the characteristics of the town, and that they be located in the downtown core. The zoning designation requested by Vaquero is intended to "augment the commercial and business needs of the community" for developments requiring close access to main traffic arteries or immediate access to large parking areas, or that require generally larger ground-level floor areas than smaller retail shops.
And while Vaquero is petitioning for annexation and zoning for a parcel located east of the intersection of Price and Samuel Wade roads adjacent to West Elk Wine & Spirits, "At this stage, they're not talking about Dollar General," said Knight. "They are talking about annexing a piece of property with a C-2 zone. Anything allowed under that zoning law can be built on that property."
Knight explained the annexation process. First, he said, current property owner Arvin Stahl gave permission for Vaquero to submit the petition, which went before the Paonia Board of Trustees at the Tuesday, July 9 meeting. Per Colorado statute, the board must accept the petition, said Knight. "That, or they have to have a very particular legal reason to not accept the petition. At this point there is nothing that either the town or the town attorney or myself feel would allow them to deny accepting the petition."
The lot meets state and local criteria for annexing. Samuel Wade Road, which has already been annexed, is identified in the 2010 "Highway 133 Corridor Master Plan," an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the Town of Paonia and Delta County, as having "a direct influence on future growth, economic vitality, and Paonia's small-town character," and urges the town to direct that growth outward from the downtown core.
The document was adopted in 2010 to address Paonia's 1996 Comprehensive Plan, a policy document for Paonia and Delta County to use in considering specific land use and development proposals to address future growth and development outside of existing town boundaries while maintaining the area's rural agricultural setting. The town is currently working to update the plan and obtained a grant to hire a summer VISTA intern to work on it.
Once the petition is accepted, under a separate agenda item the board will pass a resolution initiating the process. At that point, the petition will go before the Paonia Planning Commission for a full review and a public hearing. That hearing is currently scheduled for Wednesday, July 31, unless the planning commission finds a reason to continue the hearing, said Knight.
The petition would come back to the Board of Trustees for a public hearing and decision, which could occur as early as the Aug. 13 board meeting. The annexation would require approval by the Delta County Board of County Commissioners, and adoption of a town annexation ordinance, and would undergo two readings and be published twice in the Delta County Independent before taking effect.
The town is going through the same process now with another parcel on Stahl Road, said Knight. The Green Belt subdivision application has been reviewed by the planning commission and recommended for approval by the board. It is scheduled to come before the board for consideration at the July 23 board meeting.
If the Vaquero petition is approved by the board, "At that point they can apply for a building permit," said Knight. Absent anything outside of what's allowed in C-2 zoning, the permit can be issued and the project can move forward.