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Breaks on parking, residential proximity in final vote on planned West Colorado Avenue brewpub

An edited aerial view outlines the Cerberus Brewing Company site at 702 W. Colorado Ave. including the alley and the triangular piece of the property north of it. Just to the west are two multifamily units (712 W. Colorado and 23 McKinley Place), which are to be buffered from the brewpub by a fence and a 15-foot setback from the nearest patio tables. "R-2" stands for the residential zone of the neighborhood northeast of the brewpub; "C-5" stands for the commercial zone along the avenue. Note that the multifamily units are also in the C-5 zone.
Courtesy of City Planning
       In August, a City Planning Commission meeting seemed to have cobbled together a compromise appeasing a neighboring property owner in a proposal to open a brewpub on a currently unused 9,250-square-foot property at 702 W. Colorado Ave.
       Given the final say at a Sept. 22 public hearing, City Council came up with some different ideas - partly resulting from getting some different information - but displayed the same kind of deal-making spirit.
       In the end, the result was basically the same: The Cerberus Brewing Company plan was approved, despite being short of off-street parking spaces and well under the 200-foot separation that city code stipulates between bars and homes.
       Like Planning Commission (an appointed body), the elected City Council was convinced by Cerberus co-owner Jerry Morris that the redevelopment of the former veterinary hospital property will be a benefit in terms of city “infill” goals and thus deserving of a relaxation of those requirements. (Infill is when land-use projects occur in the city's interior instead of on its periphery.)
       One aspect on which council agreed with the commission was a city staff recommendation to change the zone from C-5 (a normal commercial zone) to C-5P, which essentially halves the normal parking requirements so as not to hamstring commercial enterprises in difficult properties. Michael Turisk, the planner assigned to the matter, offered the prediction that the on-site parking (25 spaces - 10 short of what city calculations call for) should actually be sufficient. "It is anticipated there will be some measure of overflow," he added, "but staff believes the streets can absorb that.”
       In her support of C-5P, City Councilmember Jill Gaebler highlighted the bar ownership's outreach to the cycling community, which includes plans for a large bicycle-themed motif on its fence that will face onto Colorado Avenue. This means “it will be a venue where people don't just drive,” Gaebler said. Should parking overflow, she commented that "residents don't own the streets in front of their houses" and tight parking is "one of the things that happens when you [city leaders] support infill projects.”
       Here are the ways City Council, as a result of considerable discussion during a 1½- hour hearing, overrode Planning Commission:
       - Fence/wall - The commission's attempt at a compromise would have put a stand-alone, solid 8-foot wall on the Cerberus property in hopes of ensuring an appropriate setback between the properties (see “Setback” subhead below); however both Morris and neighboring property owner Bonnie Olson criticized that plan at council. Morris noted that it would create unusable space that he would also have to pay to landscape, and Olson worried that the result would be a “homeless island” between the two properties.
       What council approved was a six-foot fence (or wall) on top of an existing four- foot retaining wall along the property line of multi-family residences that are owned by Olson just to the west, between Colorado Avenue and the alley between Seventh Street and McKinley Place.
       Council set the fence height in response to Olson's statement that such would be necessary “to mitigate sound” from the brewpub in that the bedrooms of her tenants are only 4 feet away from the property line. A three-foot chain-link fence sits on the retaining wall now.
       The six-foot barrier could be a fence or a wall, based
A southwesterly view from Seventh Street across the proposed Cerberus property shows its proximity to the homes along McKinley Place (background), above a four-foot retaining wall. As a result of City Council's vote, a six-foot fence or wall is to be built atop that wall to create a buffer from Cerberus' outdoor patio and parking lot. In the foreground at right is the alley through the property that will be vacated as another part of council's project approval.
Westside Pioneer file photo
on staff comments, because the weight that the retaining wall could support is not known.
       - Setback - Planning Commission had recommended that there be 20 feet between Olson's property and the nearest tables on the patio that Cerberus plans outside its 3,538-square-foot building.
       Council's ultimate vote for 15 feet followed Morris' argument that he was having to face stricter rules than other Colorado Avenue alcohol-serving restaurants with patios near residences.
       The 15-foot setback only restricts the brewpub from patio tables in the setback area. Outside games such as "cornhole," a beanbag game popular at some bars, could be played in that space, Morris said, although Olson requested that not be the case.
       - Outdoor music - Council voted to allow outdoor music on the patio until 10 p.m. Planning Commission had called for no music at all outside. Council came around to its stance after a Morris complaint that the commission had unfairly denied him. However, as the August commission meeting minutes indicate, the group had voted that way after Morris told them he had no plans to offer outdoor music. His apparent mind change between meetings was not addressed at council.
       - Vacation of alley - Planning Commission had voted against vacating the short, steep alley between Seventh and McKinley (see graphic and photo with this article) despite a recommendation by traffic engineers, because it was not convinced of the value in closing off that public use and giving the land to adjacent property owners (Morris and Olson). Also, the developers did not make a case for it. However, at council, Morris said a vacation “makes sense for us, because we can walk to the back half of the lot
Jerry Morris, principal owner for the planned Cerberus Brewing Company, speaks at the City Council public hearing. He also owns two downtown bars - the Underground and Brewer's Republic.
Westside Pioneer photo from Springs TV
without crossing the alley.” That part of the lot, a triangle just north of the alley, is where Cerberus plans to grow hops for its beer.
       Council President Merv Bennett expressed the view that the alley has “no value” to the public and traffic flow may actually improve as a result.
       The above issues were addressed alone or as parts of other items in four separate council votes. All were approved unanimously, except for the alley vacation, on which Councilmember Don Knight voted no.
       During the public hearing, council gave the development side (Morris and his architect, Ryan Lloyd) and the neighborhood side (Olson) 15 minutes each to present their views.
       Morris spent part of his time criticizing Olson, claiming that she had been “haranguing the planning department” regarding her opposition during recent months and that this had helped her at Planning Commission. “Olson is a former city planner and knows how to work the system in her favor, obviously,” Morris suggested.
       He also mentioned several times to council that the people living in her multifamily complex have barking dogs, and he questioned Olson's dedication to keeping the units residential by pointing out that she had submitted a medical marijuana license application for one of the units in 2010 (but later withdrew it).
       In her comments, Olson did not rebut what Morris said, although she said his personal comments did “upset” her. She complimented the Cerberus group's plan in general, saying it's “progressive; they did a good job. I'm just concerned about my place.” She said she expected she would be paying for the fence.
       Morris later said he would put the fence in to meet council stipulations. Thus, although no exact deal was hammered out at the meeting, it appeared that some form of cost-sharing between the neighboring property owners will occur.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 9/28/15; Land: Development Proposals)

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