Attorney, broker question council’s decision on Harley |

Attorney, broker question council’s decision on Harley

SILVERTHORNE – Harley backers and opponents converged on the Silverthorne Town Hall Wednesday to voice their opinion on the town council’s recent rejection of Harley-Davidson’s proposed retail shop on Tanglewood Lane.

The council adopted legal findings this week to support its Aug. 28 denial of the sketch plan for a 10,000-square-foot motorcycle retail shop. The lot for which the business was proposed, while zoned commercial, abuts a residential area.

Area homeowners objected loudly to the prospect of a Harley shop near their homes during the August meeting. While council members said other factors were involved in their denial, that night’s discussion – from neighbors as well as council members – focused on noise.

Harley proponents protested this week, saying the lot they’re eyeing is zoned commercial, making their proposed shop a use by right.

Breckenridge attorney Steve West, representing Harley-Davidson, said he wonders if the Harley proposal is being treated differently from other submittals.

“One of our concerns is, are the rules going to be different for this project?” he asked. “The findings go into some detail and include a long list of things which no one in the project group ever remembers having been asked to submit. Drainage plans and noise studies … are typically not included in sketch plan.

“The applicant would like to figure out exactly what it is that’s needed in sketch plan, resolve these matters with staff and present another sketch plan. Then, the applicant would spend a great deal of time with the neighbors,” West said.

Other audience members said the council’s recent action makes them worry that Silverthorne’s zoning isn’t set in stone. Real estate broker Henry Barr accused the council of “changing the rules as we go.”

“Silverthorne is the only municipality in which my attorneys have recommended a special Silverthorne clause that basically says, no matter what’s written in the town code, do not rely on it,” he said. “Silverthorne has that reputation.

“I have people call who want to know what can be developed, and we have to say, “Who knows? It depends on the mood, what rules we’re going to play by today.’ At some point, somebody is going to have enough chutzpah to stand up to the town and take them to task,” Barr said.

Tanglewood Lane homeowner Tom Dopplick said decisions on commercial proposals aren’t based on zoning alone.

“It appears use by right is also subject to other town codes, including the comprehensive plan,” he said.

The comprehensive plan encourages commercial uses that “are compatible with Silverthorne’s livability, mitigate any adverse impacts and do not disrupt residential areas.”

Silverthorne community development director Mark Leidal explained why there was so much detail in the findings.

“Typically, sketch plan is more of a concept level,” he said. “I agree … we’re going above and beyond. We also wanted to be as inclusive as possible, to put the applicant on notice there are a variety of issues related to code.

“I certainly think we’d be able to work with the applicant as they prepare for another submittal.”

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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