Town takes first steps to address commercial open storage

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Town trustees recently tackled cleaning up Kremmling’s highway corridors and the issue of open storage. With a vote of 4-2, trustees added new definitions to their Municipal Code on March 6. The definitions were meant to help define the problem of open storage, and more importantly, give businesses who are currently operating in noncomplaince an avenue to become compliant.

Kremmling’s planning and zoning board was tasked with the grueling process of reviewing the open storage codes. They began with commercial properties – separating the issues concerning open storage on commercial and residential properties was essential in the beginning steps.

As Red Mountain Storage owner, Ron Jones noted on a trip through town, he found 147 instances of open storage throughout Kremmling. He reminded Planning and Zoning about the importance of recreation and tourism in Kremmling and how storage for boats and RVs is needed.

The policy targeted businesses along the corridors leading into Town, and would allow permitted uses in certain areas. “This piece was specifically for commercial storage business,” said Trustee Erik Woog who also serves on Planning and Zoning. “We need to work with our businesses not against them, this would allow us to move forward with permitted uses in certain areas.”

He adds, “Though this point has been raised in the past, I think it is important to keep it in in mind when considering the rationale behind such an ordinance. Kremmling is a statutory community, and is governed by a series of codes which are inclusive not exclusive. Essentially what this means is that a use is only permitted if there is an allowance in the code to permit it. If it is not mentioned in the code then it is not a permitted use under any circumstances. So, when a need is identified, then an inclusionary provision must be added. The obvious need to allow for commercial open storage operations to exist in certain zoning districts with restrictions and appropriate visual barriers was publicly identified”

The new code asserts enclosed storage may be allowed in central business and industrial zone district as before, but adds a provision by which open storage and impound lots are allowed under “Use by Special Review.”

Open Storage Facility was defined as a business that sells, rents or leases storage spaces for goods, merchandise, vehicles, boats or equipment where such items are not kept in an enclosed building. An impound lot means any lot or parcel where impounded motor vehicles are temporarily stored under appropriate protection, including wrecked or inoperable vehicles. Open Storage Facilities and impound lots would only be allowed with “Use by Special Review.”

Planning and zoning regulated open storage facility and impound lots would be required to be set back 120 feet from Highway 9 or 40 and would likely be required to have a vegetated berm, vegetated embankment, fencing, other landscaping or screening device. Planning and zoning agreed visual barriers could be determined during the “Use by Special Review” process.

As expected the new code was met with support and opposition.
Michael Osorio, owner of East & West Towing which became a licensed business in Kremmling last May, looks forward to the additions to the new code that would allow for storage of vehicles he had towed.
Among those questioning the additions to Municipal Code were Dawna and Stuart Heller, whose family-owned-property along Highway 9 was under scrutiny by Planning and Zoning. Their property is tucked between a hill and the railroad tracks and is used for larger equipment storage, and within the last year Alpine Towing began using a portion of the property as a transfer station for towed vehicles.

Dawna Heller questioned the use of the term impound lot. She also stated the property zoned as industrial was not easily seen from the road with its natural barrier and should be exempt. Dawna’s father, Jerry Carpenter, had purchased it when it was used as a gravel pit and had then later used it for equipment storage. Based on its historical use, Hellers believe it should grandfathered.

Kremmling local, Chris Sammons also questioned the terminology and wording of the definitions, acknowledging they could be ambiguous.
Addressing these concerns, Woog stressed that the new policy gives businesses an opportunity to come into compliance rather than operate outside of Town laws. It also gave Planning and Zoning the ability to determine what type of visual barrier may be needed to make the corridors through Kremmling more aesthetically appealing. “It is important to be able to make case by case decisions, such as the Carpenter property which has the advantage of its lower elevation acting as a visual barrier,” added Woog.

Not immediately clear was whether or not commercial garages who park vehicles would be required to have a visual barrier. Jeff Miller of Planning and Zoning believed, yes. “If the vehicles are staying there for a period of time, it needs to be fenced.”
Rannette Bakke, also of the Planning and Zoning Board agreed, “The aesthetics of all businesses on the main corridor needs to be addressed.”

Retail businesses are allowed to display their merchandise for resale on industrial and central business zoned properties and are not considered under this ordinance.

When the Town is ready to enforce the ordinance, Kremmling Police Chief Jamie Lucas indicated education
of the public would be the first step in the process and personal contact would be made with each business.
The Planning and Zoning board also stressed the Town of Kremmling needed to take the lead in cleaning up the corridor by making sure weeds are mowed and town properties were well manicured. Miller said, “The Town needs to set the example with baby steps.”

The Planning and Zoning board members are Erik Woog, Rannette Bakke, Jeff Miller and Grover Pryor. Bob Dell resigned from the board last year and there is currently vacancies on the board. Kremmling citizens interested in serving should contact the Town Hall at 970-724-3249.

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