Silverthorne Harley Davidson store nixed
SILVERTHORNE – Harley Davidson’s signature sound was its apparent downfall Wednesday when the Silverthorne Council denied plans for a motorcycle shop in town.
Lakewood’s Freedom Harley Davidson had proposed a second shop in Silverthorne. The Lakewood shop wanted to build a 10,000-square-foot structure on Tanglewood Lane, across the street from the Village Inn. While council members also said the proposal doesn’t meet the town’s architectural requirements, the noise issue prompted the most discussion.
Proponents had estimated the store would generate about $2.5 million in annual retail sales. Council members admitted the added sales tax revenue would be welcome but said they couldn’t endorse the location. The proposed shop borders both commercial and residential areas.
Harley Davidson’s representatives made a power point presentation about its wealthy customer base, emphasizing repeatedly that it would sell more T-shirts and parts than it would sell and service bikes.
Harley spokesman Al Parker said the company’s retail shops are tastefully done in “a boutique style,” complete with a fireplace to welcome customers. No more than eight motorcycles are displayed on the floor at anytime, he said, and doors to the service area are kept closed – keeping sound inside.
“It is sort of a toy shop,” he said. “No more sawdust on the floor or dirty pictures, more like The Gap or FAO Schwartz.”
Eighty-five to 90 percent of the items sold in such shops are general merchandise, not motorcycles.
But Tanglewood Lane residents had done their homework, too. They bombarded the council with information about decibel levels, Harley’s marketing techniques and residents’ entitlement to a sense of neighborhood calm.
Tom Dopplick said he checked Harley’s Web site to find out what makes the motorcycles so attractive to their owners.
“One reason was Harleys have big engines,” he said, quoting from the site. “They went on to say, “and, of course, the sound. No other motorcycle has the same heart-pounding, pavement-thumping sound as the venerable Harley.”
Dopplick said he also found information on decibel levels that show a loud motorcycle at 50 feet registers 100 decibels. Sound at 100 decibels, he said, is equivalent to standing 3 feet from a lawnmower or a table saw.
“It’s quite clear this is no ice cream parlor being dropped at the edge of our community,” he said. “This is a heart-pounding, pavement-thumping, sales retail shop – by their words.”
Verald Easterly, who said he was working with Harley to sell them the lot on which they planned the shop, argued for the project. Easterly, also a Tanglewood Lane homeowner, said the neighborhood is already noisy.
“The noise I hear is from I-70, big trucks gunning it to get up Silverthorne Hill and Colorado 9,” he said. “I think it’s kind of a petty issue to think the noise level is going to go away.
“The project has a use by right to go on that commercial land. To me, it should be considered a golden opportunity for the city to start filling in some of their commercial properties that are doing nothing for the town.”
But council members were unanimous in their criticism of the project site.
“It may be a use by right, but there is a common right of people to have a certain level of peace and quiet,” said Councilmember Howard Hallman.
“Although Harley Davidson has a great history and puts out a good product, you can’t market yourself as heart-pounding and pavement-thumping and come across as a good neighbor,” said Councilmember Dave Koop, adding he couldn’t buy into the argument that “it’s already noisy, let’s make it noisier.
“We do not have control over a lot of things,” he said. “But this seems to me like one situation where we do have a say.”
Councilmember Karla Trippe pointed to the town’s comprehensive plan. “Our policy says commercial uses shall be encouraged which are compatible with Silverthorne’s livability … and do not disrupt residential uses,” she said.
She also had problems with the architecture of the building. The town requires four-sided architecture, and the Harley proposal didn’t show any aesthetic treatment to the rear of the structure.
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