Restaurant expansion discussion brings up dumpster concerns

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    By Joe Napolitan
    Staff Writer

    On Tuesday, May 11, the Pagosa Springs Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve the final major design review application for the proposed Riff Raff on the Rio expansion.

    The applicant’s project narrative states that the proposed expansion would add roughly 330 square feet to the south (front) side of the building to accommodate an indoor cooler and canning equipment. It would also relocate the existing public guest entry to the north side of the building where it would provide access from the parking lot via the Riverwalk trail.

    Before the application was approved, Senior Planner Cindy Schultz pointed out a final remaining concern in regard to trash storage.

    “The outstanding issue that remains is the dumpster and trash storage area,” said Schultz. “It can attract a lot of wildlife … and can be unsightly and a hassle for employees who go out to clean it up the next morning. We wanted to make sure with the visibility of this garbage location that we have a full display in the plans that includes how the doors will be enclosing that trash dumpster.”

    The Pagosa Springs Land Use and Development Code states in article 6.10 that “every development that is required to provide one (1) or more dumpsters for solid waste collection shall provide sites for such dumpsters that are:

    “1. Trash storage areas shall be screened from view and secure from animals.

    “2. Adjacent properties shall combine trash areas when feasible.

    “3. Located to facilitate collection and minimize any negative impact on persons occupying the site, neighboring properties, or public rights-of-way; and

    “4. Constructed to allow for collection without damage to the site or the collection vehicle; and

    “5. Screened to prevent them from being visible to:

    “a. Any dwelling unit on residential property, other than the property on which the dumpster is located;

    “b. Occupants, customers, or other invitees to any building on nonresidential property, other than the property on which the dumpster is located; and

    “c. Persons traveling on any public street, sidewalk, or other public way.”

    Applicant Jason Cox, co-founder of Riff Raff Brewing, addressed the pending concerns about trash storage, stating, “the trash enclosure actually was not documented in the initial set for sketch plan, but it is in the final document.”

    Cox mentioned that while he agrees with the intent of screening dumpsters, they have faced complications with disposal services’ access to them. 

    He noted that their trash enclosures at the original Riff Raff have been damaged every year by removal services.

    “The crux of it is, it’s hard to get into some of these areas in the winter with the snow and the slickness and the big vehicles,” explained Cox. “We’re trying to comply; sometimes it can be very difficult. I don’t anticipate any issues with the Rio enclosure, we have enough space there since Ski and Bow moved its storage shed. But there are, especially downtown, some real challenges.”

    Cox went on to explain that since Ski and Bow Rack has moved a building they were using to store equipment, they have enough room for the project. 

    He expressed concerns that for many other businesses in tight downtown areas, trash removal could be an ongoing issue.

    “We’ve figured out a way to mitigate that and make things clear, but I think there is some location dependency and access for the trash companies that may need to be considered as a conditional use,” Cox said. “But, we totally get the idea of enclosing it, it’s just something to consider for other applicants.”