Business center proposals create friction |

Business center proposals create friction

Aidan Leonard

SILVERTHORNE – The rejection of a proposed towing storage business on a lot at the Brian Avenue Business Center in Silverthorne has exposed a simmering debate on the land use at the development.

Silverthorne town council members claim that the developer, Scott Downen, has failed to present developments in line with the spirit of the negotiated planned use development (PUD) requirements for the site. For his part, Downen claims the town is reneging on its part of the deal and attempting to alter certain provisions to which it had agreed.

“It’s a long and complicated story,” Mayor Lou DelPiccolo said.

The development site, which is subdivided into eight separate lots, sits north of the Arctic Placer residential neighborhood and is zoned for mixed use on land adjacent to Placer Valley and heavier commercial use north of that.

The PUD was negotiated during a period of more than a year and was intended to ease the transition from residential to commercial, according to town officials.

The debate originates from a belief on each side that the other is not abiding by the terms of the original PUD agreement.

“Council has been concerned with the fact that what was shown during the PUD process was a building on every lot and sort of a coordinated develop,” Silverthorne Community Development Director Mark Leidal said. “I think that’s where their concern is – that they’re not seeing those proposed uses come in.”

“The town seems to have a misunderstanding on what it approved and what we discussed in all the meetings,” Downen said. “The uses are stated clearly on the set of plans that has been stamped and approved.”

In the case of the towing storage business, Ron’s Texaco of Frisco had proposed a use of the site that would involve the automobile storage. Outdoor storage is permitted under the current PUD, though the town maintains that what would actually occur is a part of the towing and recovery business Ron’s Texaco operates.

This would not be a permitted use under the PUD.

“The way I understand it at the moment, it is going to be, in effect, a storage yard that is part and parcel of the towing business they have,” DelPiccolo said. “It’s going to do nothing for the aesthetics or financial well-being of the town.”

“It’s not what was talked about at the time of the approval of the overall project,” he said.

Downen, however, maintains that this is an after-the-fact change to the agreement.

“Now they’re misconstruing everything as to what is outside storage,” he said. “The town is now, because of this one issue with Ron’s Texaco, redefining “outside storage.'”

“The interpretation can differ about what’s going on,” Councilmember Peggy Long said.

What is clear, is that some council members and local residents feel the development is not proceeding according to previous promises.

“Apparently, at this point, by having sold the lot to people who are proposing doing what was proposed (July 23), the people in Arctic Placer feel betrayed,” Del Piccolo said.

Long said she was displeased as well.

“I’m pretty angry with Mr. Downen (regarding) his presentation of this land and what he’s (now) doing to it,” she said.

Downen feels that characterization is unfair.

“Every little thing that comes up, they say “Oh my god, this isn’t what we agreed to,'” he said. “Well, it is what we agreed to. We showed them this. They approved the land uses.”

Downen also said that in approving the site’s PUD, the long process itself is partly to blame.

“The town basically delayed this project for so many years, that it’s impossible to sell a piece of property right now because of the economy,” he said.

Downen said this fact may lead him to sell a lot “with a use that’s borderline because this thing cost a fortune to (get) where it is today.”

Still, town planners maintain the proposals presented thus far were not acceptable.

“These first two land proposals that have come in have not met the intent of the proposal as it was approved,” Leidal said.

True to the nature of the case, Downen disagrees.

“Like everybody else, we’re sitting on our investment and marketing the property to sell on our use-by-right PUD,” he said.

Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or

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