Residents upset with setbacks |

Residents upset with setbacks

Yampa Avenue property owners looking for compromise

— City planners hoping to make Yampa Avenue into a more pedestrian-friendly commercial thoroughfare tried to strike a balance with property owners Thursday night in front of the Planning Commission.

The property owners who live on the river side of Yampa Avenue have been adamant about maintaining their property rights as the city attempts to take the unique qualities of the street into account in drafting its new Community Development Code. Property owners on Yampa pleaded with the commission to eliminate or reduce some of the setbacks the city has proposed in the new code. The setbacks attempt to keep buildings away from the edges of property lines and the Yampa River.

The only setback in place now is 50 feet from the Yampa River.

Some property owners feel the new setbacks squeeze their lots into constrained spaces and reduce potential building spaces to much less marketable sizes.

Neil Bergman, who owns a home on the river side of Yampa, said he thought the city intended the street to be filled with restaurants like the Cottonwood Grill and Yacht Club that are already there. With the setbacks the city is proposing a 10-foot street-side setback, 30-foot river-side setback and possibly a 5-yard side setback the potential for a developer to build a restaurant diminishes significantly, Bergman said.

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“If you take the setbacks into account, restaurant row will be a lot of little hot dog carts,” Bergman said.

Comments made by Bergman and others may have swayed Planning Commission toward its decision to allow flexible 7.5-foot side setbacks on the river side of Yampa, though Planning Director Wendie Schulenberg noted that the property owners would have wanted no setbacks at all. The “flexible setback” means that property owners would need to have a total of 7.5 feet on either side of their property even if that means sharing a fire wall with a neighbor.

The commission did not make a decision about whether to waive parking requirements for property owners on the river side of Yampa. The city’s plans present the owners with a Catch-22. The city requires parking to be built on Yampa, but does not allow any new curb cuts, so there is no way for an owner to build new parking on-site. But owners who do not provide parking are required to pay a fee-in-lieu, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Planning Commission members asked city staff to provide more options in regard to the fee in lieu of parking.

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