TRINIDAD — A divided Trinidad Planning and Zoning Commission approved, with a 5-2 vote, to move the application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a new Toyota of Trinidad automobile dealership to the Trinidad City Council for final approval. The move was met with resistance from members of the city’s historical preservation group and the city’s culture and heritage group during a public hearing Wednesday evening, January 20, at City Hall. The dealership will occupy a 6.1 acre parcel starting on Commercial Street and spreading eastward beyond Chestnut Street. It will extend northward and stop just north of the city’s Cedar Street extension. Pressure to begin the development is increasing with a demand by Toyota corporate to get it underway by March 1, 2016. If the development fails to start on that date the franchise will be moved to Alamosa. With zoning of the area as established historic preservation-mixed use district (E-HP-MUD), a conditional use permit is required to build a vehicle sales business. One of the businesses that will be surrounded by the new dealership is M and M Dispensary. John Micheliza, from M and M, spoke against the issuance of a CUP saying he feels it will interfere with his business. “It will block my alley, the only access I have to the back of the building to maintain it.” The alley is on the
southside of his building and Micheliza notes for that reason he opposes approval of the CUP. Both Paula Manini from the Trinidad Historical Society and Marilyn Leuszler from Space to Create opposed the CUP. They cited both the city’s comprehensive plan, okayed by the city in 2008 and the Historic Preservation Standards set in 2011 by the HP-MUD zoning district set in 2011, as reasons for their objections to the project in the planned area. Commission chair Wayne Pritchard said the project is in violation of several zoning ordinances. “I can see where this project application is in violation of seven to eight regulations in the Historic Preservation District. Toyota can ask for variances that will satisfy objections to the CUP.” Among the violations are: the use of smooth-faced concrete, concrete block, metal or vinyl siding, and materials of a similar nature. These materials are prohibited by the HP-MUD zoning district set in 2011. The principal materials used in building facades should be indigenous to the Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District, particularly high-quality brick, stone, and/or wood. Another violation is that long, blank walls are prohibited. Building facades shall have clearly-defined entry areas that utilize distinguishing architectural features such as overhangs, recesses, display windows, and/or planters. If possible, entry areas must be located along a sidewalk. To each of the violations the staff report noted that the design and elements of the dealership building are determined by Toyota corporate offices. Toyota Corporate allows little design leeway for local stores. The building is composed of preformed metal panels as mandated by Toyota Corporate. Enthusiasm for the project was evident in the voting by four of the P&Z commissioners. Commissioner Frank Leone said that the project was something needed by the community to provide an anchor to for development in the downtown area. “We gotta do something. Our children are leaving to work and raise their families in other cities.” He saw benefit to the community for the move of Toyota of Trinidad from its current location east of town to the new, more centrally located plan. The “no” vote cast by Pritchard was based on his assessment of the job that planning and zoning should do. “I have to vote no because I feel that we would abdicate our position and our ability to enforce zoning codes in the future.” Commissioner Rusty Goodall commented that his “no” vote was made to keep the planning and zoning commission from facing future litigation. “I understand that if we, as a commission, remain under the umbrella of the codes, we are safe in doing our jobs.” The application moved to the city council for a special meeting at 1:30 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at City Hall.