Breckenridge moves to ban murals in historic, conservation district
November 29, 2017
After giving two proposed large, exterior wall murals the go-ahead in as many weeks ago, Breckenridge council members voted Tuesday to ban the public-art instillations across the town's conservation district.
"Notwithstanding anything contained in this code to the contrary, murals are prohibited within the Conservation District," reads the proposed amendment to Breckenridge Development Code, a direct result of the two proposed murals that passed Tuesday on first reading without dissent. Councilman Mark Burke did not attend the meeting.
All town ordinances must pass on two separate readings before they can become law. Based on earlier discussions and Tuesday's vote, however, the second reading appears to be a formality.
Council's desire to put controls on murals in Breckenridge emerged at its Oct. 24 meeting, when the mayor and other council members decided to void a planning commission decision approving the two murals slated for south- and east-facing walls at The Village Hotel in downtown Breckenridge.
Per town code, the only restriction currently put on murals is that they can’t be advertisements or promotional in nature. ... Council’s fears are some local business owners might circumvent sign code by erecting large, colorful wall murals to draw business.
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The Village Hotel is not inside the conservation district, but directly across the street; it was close enough to draw council's attention when the hotel submitted what would otherwise be a mundane request to remodel.
It should be noted that while the downtown historic district is contained within the conservation district, the conservation district extends a little farther than the historic district does in some areas and the two are not entirely synonymous.
Big, gray and overlooking pedestrian walkways along the Blue River, the walls where the proposed murals are to go are ripe for artwork.
Town council revisited the hotel's request on Nov. 14, but with nothing in town code preventing the murals, it approved the hotel's application while instructing town staff to craft an ordinance addressing the bigger issue.
Per town code, the only restriction currently put on murals is that they can't be advertisements or promotional in nature.
What exactly constitutes an advertisement isn't completely clear, but council's fears are some local business owners might circumvent sign code by erecting large, colorful wall murals to draw business.
Additionally, because murals are entitled to First Amendment protections, any restrictions placed on them must be content-neutral, meaning they can't discriminate based on the content, as town attorney Tim Berry previously told council.
The planning commission later added a stipulation to its approval, requiring the hotel to submit renderings of the murals before they go up so town staff can determine for sure they won't be advertising.
The hotel had included a picture of a mural in its application to remodel, but the actual murals have not yet been picked out, a hotel employee told council during the Nov. 14 hearing.
Breckenridge director of community development Peter Grosshuesch said council has also asked town staff to look at crafting rules that would allow some murals outside the conservation district, but getting protections in place for the downtown historic district was an important first step.
In other business
• Council passed a local drone ordinance, kept the mill levy at its current rate of 5.07 mills and approved a town ordinance allowing for the sealing of some municipal court records, all on second readings.
• Council approved a resolution offering residents of the Valley Brooke, Gibson Heights, Maggie Placer and Vic's Landing neighborhoods a chance to update their deed restrictions for a newer form modeled after those attached to the town's new workforce neighborhood, Blue 52.
• Council unanimously approved the town's 2018 budget and capital improvement plan, and former mayor John Warner, whose second term ended last spring, spoke up during public comments and gave council a mostly positive review for their work on the document.
• Council watched a three-dimensional, interactive artist rendering of the working design for a new parking structure at the Tiger Dredge parking lot with a gable roof on the structure.
• Vail Resorts' Kevin Burns provided a Breckenridge Ski Resort update, saying there are 200 acres of terrain now open. He added more snow would certainly help but uphill access is now open, too. Also, a new SuperChair lift is running on schedule, he said, and there are new drop-off points for the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services.
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