During two public hearings, the Hotchkiss town council voted to approve a rezoning change and lot split request by the town, and to deny a variance request.

In a public hearing for a zoning change request, Hotchkiss public works director Mike Owens presented a request to re-zone the 25-acre parcel Barrow Mesa property purchased by the town earlier this year. Rezoning would allow the town to split the acreage into two parcels, an 18-acre and a seven-acre parcel. The property is currently located in a developing resources (DR) zone.

The board has been discussing a change to C-2 commercial zoning. C-2 zoning designates the area for commercial or office use. This specification is commonly used to "provide relatively large areas for a wide variety of community-serving business and commercial uses."

Tom Wills, a former trustee and planning commission member, objected to the zoning classification. He said the term "no impact" applies to the larger lot, which is proposed for a new public works building, since the building will require new water and sewer service taps. Wills argued that the town regulations definition of a "no impact" subdivision requires that the use of the plot remains unchanged. The creation of the smaller lot would required a minimum 50-foot frontage, which is not in place at this time. He also brought up potential dangers of deeming both plots C-2 MU, as this zoning could open the door to a future purchaser using the lot for commercial purposes.

Council considered Wills' argument and thanked him for his input, but decided that "intent cannot be weighed at this time," referring to the possible future sale of the smaller acreage. Town attorney Bo Nerlin stated that "nothing prohibits building upon either lot." Wilkening said there are no formal plans for either parcel, other than a projected shop building.

The council voted to accept the split and rezoning, with trustee Esther Koontz agreeing with Wills and voting against the motion.

Trustees denied a zone change request and a variance request to setback regulations by AspenWhite, LLC. An attorney representing AspenWhite and applicant Michael Humecki said the company has purchased a property on Main Street and proposes a commercial greenhouse for cultivating hemp and produce. The wholesale business would not be open for retail sale. After mayor Wilkening recused himself, mayor pro tem Mary Hockenbery, conducted the hearing. The attorney presented a lengthy argument for the acceptance of a zone change, including the creation of a pro-business stance, thus encouraging other potential investors. She also stated that rezoning would improve the condition of an underutilized and deteriorating property.

However, four property owners objected to the imposition of an intrusive commercial concern in a residential neighborhood. They cited noise and light pollution and water management as possible concerns. Trustees agreed with residents' concerns and also pointed to it setting a problematical precedent for other businesses. The board unanimously denied the rezoning request.

New business concerned routine requests for special events liquor licenses by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Delta County Commissioners, which were approved.

The mayor then reported on the June 12-14 Rural Philanthropy Days conference, which saw 400 participants in the valley; plans to finalize ideas to present to the public about the Delta County Prosperity Plan, Colorado Department of Transportation planning meetings, and the impressions of a favorable upward economic trend in Delta County, according to data supplied by an economics professor who spoke at an economic summit that Wilkening attended.

With these reports, the mayor closed out the meeting.

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