Town to consider townhome and tiny home park project proposals

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By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

During a meeting on March 23, the Pagosa Springs Planning Commission approved major design review sketches for the 6th Street townhome project and the 116 Alpha Drive tiny home park project.

6th Street townhomes

According to agenda documentation for the March 23 meeting, the 6th Street project would consist of a development of three townhome buildings with two townhomes each, for a total of six dwelling units.

In an interview on Tuesday, Planning Director James Dickhoff noted that the project is in the mixed-use town center district and in the business and lodging overlay district.

“That district does allow townhome projects, which are vertical ownership from the ground up to the roof, versus a multifamily, which is typically space ownership or rentals,” he explained. “Our code currently supports townhomes in this district, even though the code doesn’t support multifamily ground floor uses in the district. It is a little different beast for townhomes because they are vertical ownership from the ground up to the roof.”

The project complies with the allowable uses within the town’s code and Dickhoff noted that the planning commission had concern with the proposed Riverwalk trail for the project.

According to agenda documentation, the applicant for the project proposed realigning and reconstructing section of the Riverwalk that is adjacent to the development.

Specifically, the proposal involves regrading the trail from McCabe Creek west to lessen the steep grade that allows aligning the trail more within the legal trail easement area by pushing the trail further east in the regraded trail area, agenda documentation outlines.

“The current trail, I wouldn’t say is totally outside, it does veer outside of the current deeded easement that’s recorded. But the applicant is proposing to do a few things with that to better accommodate their development,” he said. “One is to regrade that trail to take out that steep grade from the McCabe Creek crossing to the new pedestrian bridge there at 6th Street. That will allow them to push the trail a little bit further towards the river and away from the edge of their building, if you will.”

The town’s sewer line is also underneath the trail easement, with the town noting within its capital improvement plan that the sewer line section is “some of the worst in town,” Dickhoff described.

That line is scheduled to be replaced in the next few years, leading to the applicant for the townhome project to work with the town on replacing the sewer line as part of the trail realignment project.

“I think the planning commission was pretty supportive of the project,” Dickhoff said, adding that planning commission member Jeff Posey wanted the Riverwalk trail to be visually appealing to pedestrians.

The planning commission also approved a sketch major subdivision application for this project, with Dickhoff noting that this is typical for projects of this type.

Tiny home park

According to agenda documentation, a 4.66-acre portion in the southeast corner of the property of U.S. 160 and Alpha Drive is proposed to be subdivided from the larger southwest lot and developed into a tiny home village to accommodate up to 50 tiny home lots.

The tiny home village is proposed to be held under one ownership with the individual tiny home lots being available for long-term leases that tiny home owners can place their individual units on, agenda documentation describes.

Additionally, the project is expected to include 50 or fewer tiny home lots, community gardens, fire pits, a dog park, and storage and laundry areas, among other things, agenda documentation adds.

“It was an interesting project because it was new,” Dickhoff said. “How we fit it into the current code is through a planned development application, which considers an overlay zoning district over the base zoning, which allows a town to consider very specific development standards that may not quite comply with the base zoning district requirements.”

For this project, the planning commission relied on its code and the planned unit development application approval criteria and the Colorado Planned Unit Development Act, which identifies that there needs to be some public benefit to consider these types of developments, Dickhoff indicated.

“Both the act and our town code refer to providing flexibility or different options for housing. So, that’s how we identified that public benefit for the legitimate consideration of this planned unit development proposal,” he said. “This isn’t really something that can occur for anything that comes down the pike. This is a unique situation that is providing some flexibility and housing choices and that’s kind of how I based my review for that development.”

In addition to approving the sketch major design review for this project, the planning commission also approved the sketch planned development zoning application for the project.

“For that project, there was a lot to discuss. It was really important that we had those lengthy discussions and considerations and invited public comment because this is new to the community. We want to make sure we’re hearing everyone’s thoughts and comments,” Dickhoff said.

Dickhoff noted that, for both the townhome project and the tiny home project, the Pagosa Springs Town Council will consider the planning commission’s recommendations at its next meeting on April 6.

chris@pagosasun.com