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Dog-friendly eatery on Bott Avenue clears Planning Commission hurdle; City Council next

       A proposal for a dog-friendly restaurant/brewpub - described as the first of its kind in Colorado - took a major step toward reality on the Westside with a close-to-enthusiastic 7-0 vote from the City Planning Commission Oct. 16.
       Before his yes vote on “Pub Dog,” one of the commission members, Jeffrey Markewich, even said, “I'll probably be bringing my dogs,” and Commission Chair Robert Shonkwiler predicted that his daughter would also want to go.
       Another member, Eric Phillips, lauded it as a “really great project. It's nice to have people who are passionate about their project, not just about making money.”
       The proposed location is a vacant 18,000-square-foot lot with the addresses of both 2207 and 2213 Bott Avenue. It's in an area that mixes homes with
Father-daughter Pub Dog proponents Scott and Tara Downs speak at Planning Commission Oct. 16. The body approved the proposal for the 2200 block of Bott Avenue in a 7-0 vote. The photo was shot from the view on a television monitor during the Springs TV/Channel 18 live coverage of the meeting.
Westside Pioneer photo
a variety of commercial uses. Although urban planners normally seek to separate residential and commercial, “this is a recognition that mixed use is not always bad,” commented commission member Chuck Donley.
       Because a zone change is part of the submittal, Pub Dog owners-to-be Scott and Tara Downs (his daughter) still need approval from City Council. The earliest possible date for first reading (two in all are needed for final council OK) is Nov. 10.
       The concept plan shows a 2,340-square-foot building and parking lot. Entering the building, attendees would be able to go to the right to a non-canine restaurant side, which is configured to have about half the indoor seating. To the left would be the canine side, which would also have indoor seating, plus an enclosed outdoor patio, a shuffleboard court and an enclosed, 2,200-square-foot grass area where people could run their dogs.
       The Colorado Health Department, which had originally rejected the concept, eventually said OK on the basis that the canine-side food would be self-serve, Scott Downs summarized for the Planning Commission (which is a council-appointed land-use review body). “This keeps the servers away from the customers.”
       Tara Downs, currently a manager at a downtown restaurant, had the idea for Pub Dog based on societal changes in which dog owners are seeking more ways to share their lives with their pets. She then worked with her dad (who has experience in smaller land-use projects) to spearhead efforts to find a site and draw up a plan that could gain the necessary government approvals. A dog owner herself, she told the commission, “This is my dream.”
       Scott Downs said the Bott Avenue site was chosen in large part because of its proximity to large, open areas where people often bring their dogs - the County Dog Park to the south, Red Rock Canyon to the west and the Garden of the Gods to the northwest.
       No one spoke in opposition at the meeting. Overall, Downs described as “fairly gratifying” the neighborhood's response to the Pub Dog idea, with 23 having signed letters of support. Even the people who live next door (east of the property) are in favor, he related, and are working with him and Tara on a landscape buffer (rather than a fence) between the parking lot and their house.
       A house also neighbors the property on the west side, but no one currently lives there, and efforts to contact the owner have come up empty, Scott Downs said.
       In anticipation of noisy moments, the restaurant building would have sound proofing, he added. Also, an attempt would be made to have customers feel part of something special (they can be in Pub Dog's “canine club”), and Tara pledged that her staff will be trained to work with dog owners on the inevitable barking episodes.
       Another way the Downses hope to make the restaurant/brewpub fit the neighborhood is through a low-key appearance. The tall trees in front are to remain, and the only signage would be on the building itself.
       Tara also said they are fine with the city planning staff recommendation to limit how late the business can stay open - 10 p.m. at the latest. The same goes for other conditions staff recommended for the requested commercial zone, which in the future would limit the site to the proposed restaurant type as well as other businesses less likely to clash with residences.
       The biggest concern for the commission was the suggested location of the trash dumpster. The Downs concept plan shows it in front, near Bott (though screened from view), rather than in back, by the alley, a seemingly more desirable location. Scott Downs explained that the alley behind Bott's 2200 block tends to be a haven for unsavory individuals, and he actually intends to block off that access. He'd also prefer to have the dumpster in front for safety reasons, because two-thirds of his 18 employees will be female, he said.
       The commission vote formally approved a zone change for the property to commercial (it's currently zoned residential on the lot's west side and manufacturing on its east side), a project concept plan and a minor amendment to the Midland Master Plan.
       A tangential part of the commission discussion involved a possible need to update that plan. It is about 25 years old and shows that part of Bott Avenue as “low-density residential” - which neither matches reality nor the Westside Plan, which accepts a mixed-use concept.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 10/17/14; Land: Proposals)

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