Tweaks to city land-use rules closer to approval
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Kate Gienapp

Newly proposed amendments to land-use regulations are already spurring project plans in the City of Gunnison — even before those rules have been officially adopted.

“We’re encouraged by the city, specifically the changes you are pushing for,” said Don Smith, the prospective developer of a boutique hotel along North Main Street.

Smith and his wife Elizabeth, both of Crested Butte, are pursuing building the structure at 404 N. Main Street. The proposed changes to the city’s Land Development Code (LDC) as well as an ideal downtown location were factors in considering the new lodging establishment, Smith said.

The couple hopes to offer 20-24 rooms in the boutique hotel in addition to potential workforce housing, said Smith.

The proposed code changes eyed within the “B-1” zone — where the property the Smiths are eying is located — include a potential increase in building height as well as a reduction in required setbacks. The proposed changes would increase permitted building heights in the B-1 zone from from 35 feet to 40 feet and 35 to 50 in the Central Business District to the south.

Yet, the Smiths indicated that they would like the hotel to be 50 feet in height — and lobbied for the same allowed height in the B-1 zone as is proposed for the Central Business District.

“With the nature of the B-1 district, to think about what it is and what it could become, it’s interesting that you are proposing it on the north end,” said commission member Erik Iverson of the Smiths’ plans.

While planning commissioners seemed open to the Smiths’ request for additional building height in the B-1 zone, they plan to revisit proposed changes to the LDC next month before forwarding a recommendation to City Council, which will ultimately decide which changes to adopt or reject.

The first phase of changes to the LDC were enacted this past summer as consulting firm Cascadia Partners, led by Alex Joyce, conducted a diagnosis of the LDC to identify housing development barriers within the city.

Based on Joyce’s analysis, the proposed amendments for phase two focus on allowing new housing types, higher density and reduction of off-street parking requirements.

For example, in the R-3 Multi-Family Residential zone — which was established to provide high-density multifamily residential homes and mobile parks — the maximum proposed density is 80 units per acre, compared to 30 currently.

However, not all of Joyce’s recommendations were reflected in the document presented to Planning and Zoning Commission last Wednesday. For example, while Joyce recommended allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in all residential zone districts, city staff has suggested not allowing such structures in the R-1 zone.

“Many of these recommendations coincide with both the Gunnison Vibrancy Initiative and the diagnosis of our Land Development Code,” said Interim Community Development Director Andie Ruggera.

Joyce also outlined two specific neighborhood types — cluster developments and compact neighborhoods — among proposed changes. A cluster development is defined by a single site with several small dwellings that share a common, central yard or green space and may be one or two stories. Compact neighborhoods are characterized by detached, attached and multi-unit houses that may incorporate manufactured housing types.

Planning and Zoning Commission seemed amenable to those additions.

The proposed changes also would allow for bed and breakfasts, hostels, hotels or motels to be approved as a conditional in the Central Business District and B-1 zones.

Gunnison resident Rachel Sabbato was also in attendance to voice support for the proposed changes in the R-1M zone, which include permitting ADUs and an increase in maximum lot coverage. Living on a corner can be especially restrictive since there are required setbacks on both sides of the property, she said.

“I am in favor of the changes,” said Sabbato.


(Kate Gienapp can be reached at 970.641.1414 or