by Joseph LekarczykThe Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) basically had two things on their agenda Monday night: a public hearing, discussion and recommendation on the Whipp annexation (the Farmette at the bottom of Stone Canyon) and defining the Commercial Eastern Corridor (CEC) zone (which the Whipp property will in all likelihood be a part of).
The former went reasonably well. Mike Whipp and his wife Betsy Burton reiterated their plans to continue to run a sustainable farm, hold various classes on permaculture gardening and related topics, conduct farmers’ markets, host garden to table dinners, and become a venue for weddings and receptions. Town Planner Danna Ortiz informed the Commissioners that the staff had received many letters (18) of support for the endeavor, and the appropriate authorities (Boulder County, Lyons Fire District, Colorado Division of Wildlife, et al) had signed off on the plan. She also said the Whipp/Burtons had addressed the concerns expressed by neighbors (hours of operation, parking, late night drum circles, etc.). Ortiz also laid out how the proposed annexation dovetailed with the recently adopted (last year) Comprehensive Plan, so she was therefore comfortable giving a thumbs up to the proposal. Due to legal noticing requirements, and the schedule of upcoming Board of Trustees (BOT) meetings, it was decided that the PCDC would hold off giving its official recommendation until their May 9 meeting, and the Commissioners wanted to make sure the applicants were okay with that time frame. Whipp indicated he was satisfied with “the warm fuzzies” he had heard, and would be fine with the delay.
Chairman Marty Hine then asked for a motion to continue the discussion until May 9, adjourned the meeting, and opened a workshop to discuss the defining of the CEC zone. Commissioner Roger Flynn opened the discussion by handing out a copy of the proposed ordinance that he had been working on. The crux of changes he had made revolved around “excluding formula businesses.” The definition for which “a business which does or is required by contractual or other arrangement or as a franchise to maintain two or more of the following features, which causes it to be substantially identical to other businesses: standardized array of services and/or merchandise including signage, menu, trademark, logo, service mark, symbol, décor, architecture, façade, layout, uniform, or color scheme and which are utilized by five or more other businesses nationwide regardless of ownership or location.” Can you guess what Mr. Flynn does for a living? If you guessed lawyer, you’d be correct.
Flynn said the aim of his proposal was not to stifle business opportunities, or “protect existing downtown businesses from competition” but rather to “protect Lyons’ unique small town feel and qualities.” The exclusions would pertain to businesses such as: automotive repair (Jiffy Lube, etc.), grocery store (King Sooper, etc.), hotel/motel (Motel-6, etc.), retail (Walmart, etc.), and restaurant/bar (McDonalds, Hooters, etc.). Flynn made it clear he wasn’t talking about places like La Mariposa (which both operate in multiple locations) or the recently opened Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ and Taphouse. He doesn’t want to curb someone’s desire to expand their business into other markets, he just feels that the Lyons public wants to maintain their small town feel.
Several Commissioners questioned what the goal was: controlling outside appearances, or the products being sold inside. Hine and Commissioner Michelle Allen pondered whether by having these restrictions only apply to the CEC zone and not others, might prospective developers just apply for annexation under commercial or general/light industrial zones where these restrictions would not apply. Flynn noted that the BOT was able to set the parameters for acceptable zones at the time of the annexation application. Hine also postulated that perhaps the answer lay in making the restrictions apply to all zones. Commissioner Jeff Cornell felt this was a daunting task, and felt better about keeping it specific to the CEC zone for the time being. Commissioner Russ Huff agreed, saying the two words to bear in mind were, “complex and uncertain” and in his work with computer programming, when “complex and uncertain” were part of the mix, it was a more efficient use of time and resources to start small, and expand your efforts outward.
The discussion of the details of the amendments to the nine page ordinance continued into the night, with the end result: this too will be continued, and hopefully settled at a public hearing at the May 9 PCDC meeting.