Grand Lake updates building code; changes will take effect next month
Grand Lake is ready to strengthen its building code regarding all commercial buildings in town, and it looks like the town won’t need any moratoriums on building permits to do it.
During a joint workshop of the Grand Lake Board of Trustees and the town’s planning commission on May 24, larger agenda items focused on the form for commercial buildings in the downtown area, which planning commissioners framed as an effort to keep a similar character with what has already been developed.
Commissioners said they tried to balance their goal of protecting downtown with allowing property owners to build out to the maximum entitlement under town code. In some cases, this will require more direct language, commissioners said.
“There were a lot of mights, coulds, should, may in the design guidelines,” Commissioner James Shockey explained, adding that the commissioners felt like the code outlined a vision for downtown but the language was too loose to mandate it.
Before addressing the proposed updates, trustees wanted to ensure previously approved town ordinances regarding accent materials and color pallets had been codified and updated online. Other discussions covered unkempt trash and bears.
After that, trustees waded into planning commissioners’ suggestions, which sought to better define design standards and strengthen the building code requirements for all commercial structures in Grand Lake.
Town Manager John Crone said he supported the changes but cautioned trustees that approving them would limit commercial builds in town.
“I don’t think we should gloss over the changes,” Crone said. “There are very important changes to this code. I’m in favor of these changes personally, but it’s important the board understands these definitely limit flexibility in design standards and such like that.”
Crone said the changes would help protect the look, character and feel of the downtown area, but someone might come into town with “a real good looking building” and not be able to put it up because of the changes requiring various design standards.
Within the update, the town is seeking to better define street walls, stepbacks for multistory buildings and a number of other standards, such as what’s considered a muted color.
Taking commissioners’ recommendations into consideration, trustees identified more questions in the code as they tried to come to a consensus and bring more clarity to the town’s building requirements.
In scheduling the workshop last month, trustees had discussed the possibility of imposing a moratorium on new building permits to prevent last-minute submissions before the town can update the code.
However, town staff told trustees on May 24 that if the board updated the building code immediately, the changes would take effect a month after passage and there is a provision the town could use that would prevent new permit applications from being approved under the old rules.
With that, trustees voted unanimously to update the building code.
In other business:
• A town’s latest financial report painted a rosy picture for Grand Lake. Through the first three months of the year, the town’s tax collections are up over 60% compared to the same time last year. March alone was up 210% compared to the same month last year. The town is seeing significant growth in most sectors.
• Trustees approved an emergency ordinance authorizing the town to enter into a loan agreement to install two new electric vehicle charging stations. The town will have to cover about $99,000 upfront for the chargers but will get reimbursed for most of that. The town’s share will be about $16,000 once the project is complete, staff said.
• The board appointed Trustee Michael Arntson to the role of financial trustee. He replaces Cindy Southway, who had been serving in that role for a long time.
• Trustees approved an estimate to repair the town docks. The cost should be covered by insurance.
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