Breckenridge council approves rooftop deck and bar after call-up hearing
Breckenridge Town Council voted unanimously to approve Rocky Mountain Underground’s application to build a rooftop deck on its new building, noting that most of the concerns members had weren’t directly related to the development code.
Rocky Mountain Underground — better known as RMU — is looking to add a deck and bar area to a portion of the flat roof on the 112 S. Main St. building directly north of the business, a popular bar and retail concept at 114 S. Main St.
Council called up the planning commission’s decision to approve the application at its Aug. 10 meeting and held a hearing at its Tuesday, Oct. 12, meeting. Several community members spoke for and against the application after presentations from town staff and the applicant. RMU founder Mike Waesche was present with his attorney, Danny Teodoru.
Town Council also received two petitions in its hearing packet: one in favor of the development with over 300 signatures and one against it with about 50 signatures of owners in the town’s historic district.
Along with several RMU staff members and regular customers, Breckenridge local Ken Schindler spoke in favor of the proposal because of the good he said RMU does for local musicians. He also said RMU is popular with all generations and is an important part of the community, not just for young folks.
“There’s a lot of people like me and my friends who would not have an opportunity to play in public and bring our friends … if it wasn’t for the environment RMU provides,” Schindler said. “I think the proposed rooftop is a key element of RMU’s success and continued ability to thrive, and I would really love to see the Town Council do everything they can to support it.”
Schindler added that in his experience playing at RMU, staff members are very conscious of the time they are allowed to start and stop playing music, which he said he thinks will continue.
Those opposed to the proposal argued that there wasn’t sufficient precedent and that certain elements of the code were not met, particularly relating to the project being in the historic district.
Breckenridge resident and former town employee Peter Grosshuesch said while he respects RMU for what it does as a business in the community, the hearing was about compliance with development code, and he thought planning commission made a mistake by approving it.
“This proposal is very different from that which is found in the (historic) district,” Grosshuesch said. “This will set a precedent for other property owners who have buildings with flat roofs in the historic district. While this one may have an opportunity to do some screening on it, the others may not have that opportunity, because then we will have this precedent in place that we will have to honor.”
Mayor Eric Mamula noted that directly across Main Street from RMU is his building, Downstairs at Eric’s, which has a rooftop deck previously used by a handful of restaurant owners. He said he has since turned it into a residence.
“That rooftop is higher and projects directly out at your building, so I think the precedent has been set already in the early ’80s when that was built and allowed to be there,” Mamula said.
Council’s largest concern was around noise, something that cannot be addressed within the development code. Council members considered adding a condition of approval to prevent loud speakers from being used on the deck but decided they would rather reevaluate the loud speaker permitting process to ensure they could have a say.
Council member Dennis Kuhn said noise is the biggest concern of the community, too, and that ultimately it is up to RMU to decide if they will work with them on keeping it contained.
“In the spirit of the community, I think RMU, you’ve done a great job with what you started here and what you do as a business, but you know from the people opposed to this project is they’re only opposed to it because of the noise,” Kuhn said. “And you’re going to be held to a standard, but I think internally you should take that as you do your job to monitor it and then the people of our community will probably support it. But that is the biggest challenge you have right now.”
Council members agreed with Kuhn but noted that the noise ordinance in general is something that should be reevaluated. Council member Kelly Owens noted that noise is one of the biggest complaints about short-term rentals, and council member Dick Carleton noted how difficult it can be to enforce a noise ordinance.
“I do understand that this will affect the neighborhood and the community,” council member Erin Giglielo said. “However, there are other bars and restaurants that can create noise, and if it’s a problem and if it’s enforcement — because everybody should be held to the same decibel level — then that’s what we should focus on, too.”
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