WP Council amends outdoor storage code: Starts lining up items for 2014 budget talks

Norma Engelberg Contributing writer
Posted

A proposal to build a 20,000-square-foot Tractor Supply Co. retail facility in Woodland Park uncovered a barrier in the city's zoning matrix.

The farm and ranch equipment supplier is planning to build its retail facility in a service commercial zone where it is permitted unconditionally but the current code excludes the outdoor storage of farm and ranch materials. A code-amendment ordinance approved by the Woodland Park City Council on Sept. 19 will treat farm and ranch equipment businesses the same way the code treats lumber and building materials businesses. These are allowed to store materials outside as a conditional use in most commercial zones as long as they are screened from public view.

The ordinance will allow outdoor storage of farm and ranch equipment as a conditional use in all commercial zones except Neighborhood Commercial. It also sets design standards for screening and fencing surrounding the outside storage area.

“Conditional use” means that council will have to approve any outdoor storage area associated with a farm, garden and ranch retail businesses. Woodland Park Planning Commission chairperson Jon DeVaux told council that the commissioners decided against making these storage areas a permitted use.

“If this became a permitted use, a big-box (store) could come in without any Woodland Park City Council input,” he said. “… We wanted to give people the chance to give input.”

Mayor Pro Tem Eric Smith, filling in for Mayor Dave Turley, disagreed. He said he favored fewer hoops for local business owners not more.

“Service commercial is a heavy use (zone),” he added. “If this isn't permitted there, should it be permitted anywhere?”

Councilmember Gary Brovetto agreed.

“They would still have to meet our standards,” he said. “That's why we have a planning department.”

When the ordinance came up for a vote, Smith and Brovetto voted no. Councilmember Bob Carlsen agreed with them but voted to approve anyway, avoiding a tie, which would have tabled the ordinance to the next meeting.

At a later date, Tractor Supply Co. developer Howard Hix will also ask council to change the parking space requirements for the retail facility. Planning Director Sally Riley said current regulations allow applicants to ask for changes in the parking requirements if they can prove a smaller (or larger) number of spaces would be adequate.

Also at the council meeting, Woodland Park RE-2 School District Superintendent Jed Bowman asked council to consider adding a second School Resource Officer. The single resource officer covers both RE-2 and Woodland Park's Colorado Springs Christian School campus. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December in Newtown, Conn., RE-2 officials met with city officials to review the district's security and safety procedures. The group suggested adding another resource officer at that time but no money was available.

“We've had to cut $5.2 million out of our budget over the past four years,” Bowman said. “But sometimes we get one-time money. We want to use some of this money to pay the start-up costs for a second officer.”

If the district gains revenue over the next few years it might be able to pay as much as half of the ongoing costs and, eventually, perhaps all of the costs for a second resource officer, Bowman said.

Woodland Park Police Chief Bob Larson said start-up costs are about $6,000 and that adding an officer could cost $60,000 a year.

Councilmembers agreed to add Bowman's request to its lineup when they begin deliberations on the 2014 budget next month.