After public hearing, Planning Commission gives go-ahead to Robbin PlaceA full hearing was allowed for the Robbin Place duplex proposal July 20, and the votes at Colorado Springs Planning Commission turned out favorably for the developer.
Paul Rising, owner of Tara Custom Homes, won approval for a use variance, a subdivision waiver and preliminary/final plat, which lets him
The project has been opposed by a number of people in the older Westside neighborhood around it, three of whom spoke at the hearing.
The waiver provides access to the site, which has the address of 543 Robbin Place, although Robbin is actually a 12-foot-wide alley that runs between Boulder and St. Vrain streets (in the west 500 block).
The plat approvals acknowledge that Rising is legally subdividing the land. There will be three three-story duplex buildings, each just over 7,000 square feet in size (3,500 square feet per unit), which is just within city code for an R-2 zone.
The need for a use variance was discovered recently, according to Lonna Thelen of City Planning, after a new survey found the site was slightly narrower than previously shown. The variance lets Rising define the individual lots with front widths that are just under the 50-foot minimum required in an R-2.
Rising's eventual development plan can be reviewed by City Planning staff without the need for another public hearing.
Typically, alleys cannot be the sole access to a residence, but there's no other way to drive to 543 and, as Lonna Thelen of City Planning pointed out, people have a legal right to access properties they own; also, she said, two current residents use the alley that way now.
The neighborhood around 543 consists of mostly older single-family homes. Residents have expressed concerns about landslide potential, density, excessive alley traffic and overall compatibility.
Rising has tried to work with the neighbors, and his “public process” effort was praised at the meeting by neighbor Sara Poe - even though she spoke in opposition and foresees the project as being “really big in our backyard.”
Rising has pledged to bury the duplex utilities; to adhere to a geo-hazard strategy using caissons to stabilize the slope; to route the drainage around the duplexes; to redo the alley access from Boulder Street, thus ensuring that fire trucks can get through; and (also drainage related) to rebuild/realign the alley in front of his project as well as south on Robbin down to Boulder Street.
On the motion of member Jeff Markewich, Planning Commission added a stipulation that Rising also must rework the alley for fire trucks at its north end, where it intersects St. Vrain. This was the only vote of the three taken by the commission that had an opposing vote (John Henninger).
Rising first submitted his proposal last year, seeking then (with staff encouragement) a subdivision waiver only. Under city legal direction, this created a scenario in which Planning Commission's hearing was limited to the alley access (the hillside and other concerns having been deemed off-topic). Afterward, Rising would have been able to come back with a plat plan for the entire project and only need administrative review.
Planning Commission approved the waiver at that time, but City Council - hearing it because of a neighborhood appeal - had an inconclusive tie vote. After that, Rising decided to resubmit the waiver, this time with the plat requests, thus allowing the public hearing on all the issues which occured July 20.
Westside Pioneer article