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P&Z stalls on downtown parking

Posted: Monday, Nov 12th, 2012

PINEDALE – The Pinedale parking ordinance – in the works for more than 18 months and recently passed over by the town council for a first reading – might go back to the drawing board.

At its latest meeting Monday, Nov. 5, the Pinedale Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) considered starting over the downtown-parking ordinance process from scratch, citing dissent between the commission and the council.

P&Z administrator Kate Grimes reported to the commission Monday evening that she sent out surveys to all property owners, residential and commercial, inside the proposed parking exemption district to gauge public opinion on how the ordinance should proceed.

The surveys are due back Wednesday, Nov. 21. Additional copies will be available to other town residents interested in registering their opinions, Grimes said.

Until the surveys are returned, P&Z commission members were unready to discuss any changes to the ordinance.

The commission instead entertained

discussion from some invested attendees at the meeting: Pinedale Town Councilman Chris House and three representatives from the Wind River Brewing Company (WRBC).

House was the most forward of the town council in opposing the downtown parking ordinance and the parking exemption district. The WRBC representatives historically are the most outspoken business-owners supporting the exemption district.

House stated outright that he opposes the parking exemption district on the basis that it is not fair to existing residents and business owners. He also pointed to the post office and other businesses on that block, saying there is not enough parking for people to access those services.

Greg Mottashed, WRBC manager, responded that the exemption district facilitates a downtown “walking district,” an idea the P&Z favored in the past when discussing off-street parking and parking away from use to preserve a pedestrian corridor along Pine Street.

House and Mottashed went back and forth on vacant lots downtown, debating whether new businesses could afford to develop one in the exemption district if they had to provide parking, as most vacant lots do not adhere to parking requirements as they stand.

“How do we develop the commercial businesses in this town if we don’t find a way to compromise?” Mottashed asked. “There’s a lot of these buildings, that’s the problem; they have zero parking right now, and anybody coming in wanting to do something new is choked right out.”

The P&Z has discussed the financial burden created by requiring additional parking, which a downtown exemption district would alleviate.

House said he preferred new business expansion on the edges of town.

“Personally I think we need to, before we get all caught up in the downtown historic district and the downtown walking district, we need to develop our town, from one end to the other,” House said.

House went on to say that high rents downtown might keep new businesses out. Expanding on the edges of town, he said, might drive a decrease in downtown rents.

With a bevy of new arguments to consider, the P&Z agreed to wait for the current property-owner surveys to come back and decide how to proceed from there.

“I guess we’ll get these surveys back … and we’ll go through them and we’ll try to start over and see if we can’t come up with something that the town will (approve),” P&Z member and stand-in chairperson Barbara Boyce said.

Regular P&Z chairman John Fogerty was unable to attend the meeting.

The parking issue began with a public meeting in February 2011 and developed into the proposed parking ordinance over an 18-month time span. With no clear path forward, the P&Z said they would try and meet with the town council to figure out how to proceed.

While House was a proponent of no changes for the exemption district, the WRBC representatives were visibly frustrated by the news that the P&Z would start over on the ordinance.

“What we have now – the current status wasn’t meant to be a permanent solution, I don’t think,” Mottashed said.

Grimes said additional surveys will be available at Pinedale Town Hall or by request for residents and business owners to weigh in on the issue by Nov. 21.

For the complete article see the 11-13-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-13-2012 paper.

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