January 23, 2009

Bailey rural center might be rezoned

Mike Potter
Staff Writer

The process to rezone a smaller version of the Bailey rural center to a mixed-use district is under way.

The Park County Planning Department is working on the rezoning of the area, which now includes downtown Bailey and the top of Crow Hill but would exclude Crow Hill under a new plan. The new rural center, made up of only downtown Bailey, would be rezoned from residential, commercial and agricultural to a mixed-use zone.

This map shows how the Bailey Rural Center could be shrunk to include only downtown Bailey if the rezoning to a mixed-use district is achieved. The new Bailey Rural Center would be in the area outlined in black. The current Bailey Rural Center is outlined in red. (Courtesy map)

"The purpose is to keep them [downtown Bailey parcels] for historical use with high-density residential development and small-scale commercial development," said Park County Development Services Coordinator Tom Eisenman.

The mixed-use designation is part of a goal outline in the Park County Strategic Master Plan, approved in 2001, that called for all rural centers to be rezoned to mixed use.

The rezoning is designed to promote high-density residential growth and supplemental small, commercial business that would be appropriate for a small mountain community, he said.

In other words, Eisenman said, part of the plan is to keep "big box" stores out of Park County and promote the types of commercial enterprises that blend into the community.

The proposed rezoning allows for mixed use of structures, such as a home and a store within the same building, multiple-family dwelling units and other permitted uses.

The process

For the rezoning proposal to make it to the county commissioners for a decision, there are a number of steps that have to take place. Two meetings were held in Bailey regarding the proposed rezoning, and one more meeting is scheduled on Feb. 10 at the Platte Canyon Area Chamber of Commerce meeting at 7:30 a.m. at the fire station at the top of Crow Hill.

Then the case will go before the Park County Planning Commission, which will recommend for or against the rezoning.

Eisenman said no date has been set when the case will make it to the planning commission.

The rezoning plan will then go before the Board of County Commissioners, but that might not happen until May, he said.

Eisenman said the result of the two initial meetings in Bailey made it apparent that people wanted to keep the town close to the way it is.

"The bulk of the individuals wanted to maintain that rural character," he said.

Eisenman said his department is putting together a list of other commercial uses that would be relevant to the strategic master plan in the mixed-use zone that would help achieve the goal of keeping the same rural qualities while balancing the growth of the area.

The process that is occurring for Bailey is similar to what happened in Jefferson and Como, two identified rural centers. Shawnee and Grant were also on the block for rezoning, but the decision was made to keep their current zoning in place because the towns were attempting to acquire a historic district status. So the planning commission has begun to tackle the rezoning of downtown Bailey.

Even though the master plan called for those types of changes to be made when it was adopted in 2001, Eisenman said, the rezoning is only now getting done because the planning department only recently had enough staff and time to tackle the task.

"When I took over the planning department," he said, "it was me and a secretary."

Now the staff has grown in numbers, and the office isn't processing as many development proposals because of the downturn in the economy. So it is catching up on the rezoning.

Zdenko Novkovic, one-time county commissioner candidate and member of the Destination Bailey committee, said he asked that Eisenman speak at the Platte Canyon Area Chamber of Commerce meeting to better explain what is going on with the rezoning.

Novkovic had been at the rezoning meetings and saw that not many people attended.

He figured the chamber meeting would be a good place to discuss the rezoning.

"That way you'll get a lot of the business owners there to talk to since it's going to affect the area," he said.

He felt it was a good idea to include the business owners in the rezoning process through the chamber meeting, even after a lackluster turnout at the two public meetings.

"My understanding is that it's supposed to create opportunities for new growth to come into the downtown Bailey area," he said.

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