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Commissioners OK Penrose Zone Change

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A zone change request for the Crossroads Arena and Events Center at Penrose which had stirred rumors and prompted opposition from some Penrose residents in recent weeks was approved unanimously by the Fremont County Board of Commissioners at their May 13th regular meeting.    The Commissioners approved the zone change from Agricultural Living to Business Zone District after property owner William Peetz had argued in his application that the change would maximize his opportunities to market the property.

Peetz faced opposition by more than a dozen Penrose residents to his zone change request at the April 1st meeting of the Fremont County Planning Commission over fears that Peetz intended to market the property for a marijuana cultivation or manufacturing operation.   Only two people testified in opposition to the zone change at Tuesday’s public hearing but Commission Chairman Tim Payne said the Board had also reviewed a number of letters in opposition.    Payne made it clear from the outset that the May 13th hearing was not about marijuana.   He said, "If this owner, or any future owner of this property wants to get into the medical marijuana business, that's going to be a completely separate public hearing.”

Dr. Angela Bellantoni spoke on behalf of Peetz during the meeting.   She said Peetz does not intend to change the use of the property.   But Bellantoni added, "The business is no longer there because it failed as a restaurant and events center. Mr. Peetz is trying to market the building to a more diverse market, which is better represented under the Business Zone District."

Under the Agricultural Living Zone District, there are 20 allowed uses, and under the Business Zone District, there are 46.   Under questioning by District 3 Commissioner Ed Norden it was noted that Peetz had to submit a detailed commercial site development plan for the intended use of the property as part of the zone change.   Bellantoni said the site development plan submitted with the zone change application proposes the same use as before.   She said if Peetz wanted to propose one of the other 46 uses he would have to submit another site development plan.   Commissioner Norden said that was the very point he wanted to emphasize.   He said if a marijuana grow facility was ever proposed, Peetz would have to go back for another Planning Commission review and another public hearing before the Board of Commissioners as well as having to face a review and public hearing on a medical marijuana license.

District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said she understands emotions are running high, but as a county commissioner, it is incumbent on her to speak to logic, listen to reason, pay attention to knowledge, and to listen to her own common sense.   Bell said under county regulations in place there are plenty of other opportunities to say ‘no’ if a business wants to come in which the county simply doesn’t want.

The Commissioners also conducted a pair of public hearings at the May 13th meeting dealing with county septic system regulations and amendments to the county’s zoning resolution.   Fremont County Environmental Health Officer Sid Darden explained that the new Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) regulations are intended to follow new state regulations that were promulgated by the State Health Department.   There was no public comment at that hearing and the Commissioners adopted the OWTS regulations.

There was also no comment offered on the zoning resolution amendments.   The amendments offered only minor language changes including deletion of standards for the Airport Zone District since those issues are now addressed in County Airport regulations.   The amendments also addressed special review uses for towers, requirements for off-street parking, and dimensions for parking spaces.

In other business the Commissioners:

  • Approved ambulance licenses for all ambulance agencies in the county as recommended by ambulance inspector Steve Morrisey;
  • Declared two vacancies on the Fremont County Board of Zoning Adjustment for seats that had been held by Joe Scranton and Casey Myers;
  • Approved a temporary use permit to allow a farmer’s market to operate on Fridays through the summer at the Cotopaxi Community Church.