by Beecher Threatt
Last week the Ouray Area Joint Planning Board recommended approval of a special use permit application for a home business to operate in the Valley Zone, despite protests from neighbors. The only dissenting vote was cast by county planning commissioner Bob Luttrell.
Reluctant to recommend the permit, the planning board nevertheless did not have an avenue in the land use code to deny the application. Applicant Chad Baillie met all conditions for operating a cabinet-making shop on his property at 17185 U.S. Highway 550, south of the intersection of County Road 23 and Highway 550.
Home occupations are a use by right in the Valley Zone. Land Use Department staff found that the proposed cabinet shop would not impact county and state infrastructure and was "consistent and compatible with surrounding architecture and uses."
County Planner Mark Castrodale told the commission that the shop building could be erected without a special use permit if it were to be used for agriculture and could even be larger than proposed. "This is the code we have to live with," Castrodale said.
Land use staff recommended certain conditions to approving the permit, including: compliance with state statutes for maximum permissible noise levels; obtaining a state highway access permit as required by the Dept. of Transportation; no restriction of historic irrigation rights; any vehicle traffic not to create a nuisance; and, the building will require a building permit and shall not exceed 4,443 square feet. The planning board added the following conditions in its recommendation for approval: mitigation of vibration, smoke, dust, etc. required and no retail sales allowed on property.
Baillie will receive delivery of materials by truck once a week or less. He will not conduct retail sales at the property but will manufacture cabinets for installation in Telluride area homes. Only Baillie and one employee will work at the site.
Commission member Karen Risch questioned whether Baillie should be required to obtain a flood plain certificate, but Castrodale said the building permit process would show the necessity, if any, for a certificate. Commissioners also tossed around the idea of requiring sound testing for the shop, but that could not be accomplished prior to building it. While most commissioners stated they would prefer the shop to be in an industrial park, they realized the land use code allows it in the Valley Zone as a home business.
Land use staff sent notice of the hearing to adjacent property owners, some of whom submitted written protests and appeared at the hearing. Susan Wilds, who lives out of state but plans to move to her home north of Baillie's property next year, said, "That was a pristine area we bought into." She voiced concerns about blocking the view of Mt. Abrams, effect on wildlife and non-compliance with the land use code.
Bill and Michelle Common told the commission that a 4,000 square foot millwork shop should not be considered a home business. They questioned the noise from heating and cooling equipment, who would enforce permit conditions, reputation of potential employees, fire mitigation, toxic fumes, visibility from the highway, flooding, protection of the Uncompahgre River from pollution, medical treatment areas in the shop, lower land values, noise, effect on wildlife, and increased infrastructure such as power lines.
The commission was sympathetic to neighbors' concerns but staff addressed all of them and the application still met the land use code regulations.
The joint area planning board consists of the five Ouray County Planning Commission members and City of Ouray Planning Commission members Tamara Gulde and Dee Williams.
The application is tentatively scheduled to be heard by the Board of County Commissioners on May 22 for final approval.