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Ambulance garage stalled – sign code moves forward

by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- Huerfano County officials have plans to build an office and a garage to house emergency vehicles, but they have hit a snag with the Walsenburg Planning & Zoning Board. The county wants to make changes to the plans and the city attorney has legal thoughts on the matter.
The initial proposal was to build the facility on land owned by Bill Shepherd in the Northland area of Walsenburg. However, County Administrator John Galusha added that the county wanted to add additional storage on the other side of the building to house the Council of Government busses that transport people in and around Walsenburg Monday through Friday.
As P&Z board member & city councilman, Gary Sporcich stated at the meeting, “The COG thing came out of nowhere.” Galusha said he didn’t see the problem as it was similar to building a house and then asking that a garage be added to it. Bill Shepherd, the landowner, also wondered what the problem was.
Board chairman John Carlson explained that the board didn’t know about the adding of another garage for the COG buses. It brings up the issue of how many trips in and out of the area per day COG will make, how will it affect traffic flow and whether vehicles will be washed at that site where the city has to pay for augmented water? Galusha said he has been told that up to 20 trips in and out of the facility per day would not have an impact on traffic patterns.
City attorney Dan Hyatt, who was not present, was asked for his legal opinion, and he had some concerns.
Assistant Administrator Beth Neece asked Shepherd if he would consider rezoning a larger portion of the land to commercial from agriculture. Shepherd emphatically said “No.” He said he would consider adding more if the city wasn’t going to charge him higher taxes for doing so. Shepherd said other landowners are being taxed and “Everything is over-valued.”
Just as the two sides decided to get a clarification from the city attorney soon, Galusha threw another curve at the P&Z Board, telling them the county also wants to add a helicopter pad to the mix. He wanted to know if that was a problem too.
Chairman Carlson said the board couldn’t do anything without getting a clarification from the city attorney.
Meanwhile, the Planning & Zoning Board is beginning to make changes to the 1975 sign code. The electronic disc from the International Zoning Code is in and the board will fill in the changes they want and bring it to City Council for discussion. The board also voted unanimously to entertain allowing off-premise signs in the city limits.
Karen Wilson, co-owner of the La Plaza Inn in Walsenburg, urged the board to consider allowing different portions of Walsenburg to have different sign codes to fit their needs. She also stated that some dilapidated old signs on empty buildings should be dealt with because some of them can look as bad for a town as boarded-up buildings. The P&Z board said they would take her thoughts and concerns under advisement.

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