A roof too far? Breckenridge town council debates merits of parking garage topper
November 22, 2017
Breckenridge Town Council has heeded the recommendation of its planning commission by backing off an earlier decision to cover a new parking structure at the Tiger Dredge parking lot with a barrel-vaulted roof.
The revision in favor of a more traditional design stems from concerns a barrel vault would be too unique and unlike anything else in the area, especially considering the new parking structure's proximity to the downtown historic district.
As such, the town has shifted to a gable-style roof, consisting of two roof sections sloping in opposite directions for a classic style that's common in parts of the world known for colder climates and heavy snowfall.
The revised rooftop is a turnaround from Sept. 26, when town council held a work session with designers from Walker Parking Consultants regarding various design elements for the new parking structure.
Initially, council was split on the structure's design, but ultimately decided to go with a barrel-vaulted roof, a modern style featuring a single curve that gives the overall design a semi-cylindrical appearance.
The rooftop decision followed council's identifying the Tiger Dredge parking lot — with some spillover into the adjacent F-Lot — as the best possible place to build the new, roughly $9 million parking structure.
Recommended Stories For You
The project stands as a top priority for town government with parking, or the lack thereof, being one of the most pervasive issues plaguing Breckenridge today.
Town staff has been adamant construction needs to begin this spring, and it's likely a ground breaking could come early next year.
The new structure is expected to add almost 300 new parking spaces in the downtown core, but many of the details, such as the final design and overall cost, are still being hammered out.
After settling on the barrel vault, council sought a second opinion and kicked the issue over to the planning commission, which is tasked with weighing various construction projects in Breckenridge based on a variety of factors.
In deciding whether to recommend approving a project, the planning commission will assign points — either positive or negative — based on a variety of things.
A project could incur positive points, for example, by adding additional elements of landscaping or including workforce housing.
On the flip side, a developer can be penalized for things like submitting an architectural plan that's incompatible with the surrounding area.
Also referred to as a "tunnel vault" or "wagon vault," the barrel-vaulted roof raised planners' concerns because of its contemporary style, with the commissioners noting that a barrel vault would basically introduce a new style into an area of town where no others like it are known to exist.
As such, the commission could have dinged the project -3 to -6 points for the barrel roof — architectural incompatibility warrants a deduction in multiples of three — but council also could have ignored the planning commission's rooftop assessment altogether, regardless of the points assessment.
That's because the final say in any planning matter belongs to town council, and the elected body can approve a project if it so choses, regardless of a commission's recommendation or without a recommendation at all.
Additionally, Breckenridge assistant director of community development Mark Truckey said he believes the negative points weren't really a factor. The project, even if it were assessed -6 points, he said, would have likely made up enough positive points to offset the penalty, especially considering its potential to impact the community for the better.
"Town council can approve a project without a passing point analysis," Truckey said, explaining that's been codified because a situation may arise where town council will allow something that doesn't necessarily meet town code. "Nevertheless, it's always been the council's desire to have a passing-point analysis."
Truckey can't remember a project ever being approved by town council against the recommendation of the planning commission, but, "theoretically, if town council wanted to, they could still pass that project," he admitted.
"They could," he continued, "but they like to try to play by the same rules."