County eyes mixed-use zoning

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Jefferson County is officially mixing it up — establishing a “mixed development” zoning designation.

Mixed-use zoning is a catch-all term to describe development that residential and commercial elements “planned as a unified complementary whole.”

That description was included as part of the county planning staff’s proposal to add a mixed use zone to the county books.

“We are behind many cities and counties in Colorado on this,” Commission Chair Donald Rosier said.

County Planner Alan Tiefenbach presented the proposal on Feb. 6, which was accepted 3-0 by the county commissioners.

Effective immediately, developers will be able to request land be designated part of a Mixed Use Zone District, for the purpose of building any project that entwines residential space with other uses.

Such developments have already been planned and built in Jefferson County, but had to go through a separate Planned Development process to reach county approval.

Tiefenbach said establishing specific zoning guidelines for mixed use projects would save time and cut confusion for planners and developers.

“I think this is a great tool to have in the toolbox,” District 2 Commissioner Casey Tighe said.

There would be three levels of proposed mixed use: limited commercial, neighborhood commercial and large scale commercial.

The lowest level would accommodate the “live above the shop” kind of development.

Step two would be more fitting for shopping centers along major roads with residential units mixed in.

Large scale commercial would accommodate higher commercial square footages.

“These would be your Belmar-style projects,” Tiefenbach said.

The mixed-use zoning would encourage buildings be moved closer to the street, with entrances placed along sidewalks, to encourage pedestrian traffic.

Parking lots are suggested to be shifted to the sides and back of properties.

“It’s a different concept, because we’re so used to driving down the road and seeing the parking lots with the store in back,” District 1 Commissioner Faye Griffin said. “But this looks good to me.”

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