City leaders look to foster small-scale manufacturing
Photo by: 
Kate Gienapp
Bean-roasting machinery located at Tributary Coffee Roasters on Main Street is seen here. City leaders hope to encourage such examples of production through proposed changes to land-use regulations.
Bean-roasting machinery located at Tributary Coffee Roasters on Main Street is seen here. City leaders hope to encourage such examples of production through proposed changes to land-use regulations.

In an effort to spur economic development in Gunnison, city leaders are now looking to the local production of goods. More specifically, they’re eyeing changes to land-use regulations which could pave the way for producers in well-traveled parts of the city. 

City Council on Tuesday discussed the potential for a special classification called “Artisan Maker’s Space” through a change to the city’s Land Development Code (LDC). 

“Essentially this would be to create a use category for small-scale makers and manufacturers to be sold on site,” said Community Development Director Anton Sinkewich.

Sinkewich is proposing amendments to the LCD to allow a broader range of allowed uses in certain parts of the city as well as an increase to the allowable “production space” within a building to support, for example, craft brewers, distillers, bakeries, outdoor gear companies and other “maker” uses. The goods would be required to be sold on-site or have a display area. 

Such uses would be permitted in the city’s commercial and industrial zones but could be allowed with conditional approval in the Central Business District (CBD) and B-1 zones. 

The desire to see local production is a trend that’s taking place across the country, said City Manager Russ Forrest.

Gunnison’s Boe Freeburn spoke in support of the changes to code — pointing to other Colorado communities such Leadville that have allowed similar business models. The well-known Melanzana clothing company, for example, is located on that city’s Main Street, and each piece of apparel is handmade in the building. 

Sinkewich noted that such businesses previously only could be permitted in the commercial and industrial zones. 

“Uses of this nature could add a lot of vitality and bring a mode of production right to local shops,” explained Sinkewich. 

According to the proposal, businesses classified as an Artisan Maker’s Space would be required to produce little to no vibration, noise, fumes or other nuisances and could not pose safety or environmental hazards to the public in the retail or display area. 

“So there’d be no chance of something awful slipping into the CBD zone,” said Sinkewich. 

The practice is common for tourist-oriented street frontages, said Sinkewich. It basically boils down to people’s desire to see local production.

Councilor Mallory Logan asked if Tributary Coffee Roasters would qualify as a business that could function in the Artisan Maker’s zone, given the business roasts their own beans. 

Sinkewich said that particular example was approved under a conditional-use permit, “but I think almost anybody would agree that’s a very nice element to the downtown streets.”

Logan also expressed concern over uses being compatible with the existing B-1 zone — which includes residences. 

“It would be good to get some community feedback, especially when it comes to the B-1 zone just because it’s such an odd zone,” said Logan. “There’s just random buildings around town that are designated as a B-1 zone.”

Councilor Bob Drexel questioned the ways in which production would be measured, and advocated for more specific language regarding the term “small-scale” production. 

“Does small-scale refer to square feet or amount of product?” asked Drexel. 

While part of the stipulations for the Artisan Maker’s Space include displays or retail areas, Sinkewich noted that large-scale production wouldn’t meet requirements for conditional-use permits to begin with. 

“You could buy something at Walmart,” said Sinkewich. “But you could also have the option to buy it from a local maker, and a lot of people desire the latter.”

City staff is eyeing a public hearing for the changes to the LDC in September. 

 

(Kate Gienapp can be reached at 970.641.1414 or kate@gunnisontimes.com.)