Volume 105, Number 34 - August 21, 2008
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Planning and Zoning discusses architecture
The Pinedale Planning and Zoning Commission met on Monday evening for public discussion concerning its only agenda item – a possible ordinance that would require architectural standards in downtown Pinedale.
Seven audience members were in attendance, many of them property and business owners in town.
The proposed ordinance would only apply to new construction and renovation projects in the designated area, which would run along Pine Street, stretching from Ridley’s Market down to the bridge at Pine Creek. It would also include the historical downtown district of Pinedale.
“In discussing this with some people, I find that we may be looking at drafting this ordinance,” said commission chairman John Fogerty while opening the discussion. “And I think it could help the town, but I’m sure there’s people here with other opinions and the purpose of this meeting is to get input from people.”
As the meeting progressed, input was indeed received from other commission members and audience members alike, and the opinions covered the spectrum.
Many opposed the thought of an ordinance that dictates any architectural regulations. “I think a lot of people are afraid of any kind of ordinance that says these are the guidelines,” commission member Janet Bellis said.
To assist the commission in understanding what the ordinance might look like, they were given an example that was implemented in another town. While the example was far more detailed than the type Pinedale would likely use, it demonstrated the regulatory framework Pinedale could apply to the ordinance.
Even so, commission member Barbara Boyce was not impressed.
“Well, I read this (example ordinance), and the more I read, the more scared I got,” Boyce said.
She later told a story to emphasize her point.
“Does anyone here remember when Kitty Rich painted her house pink?” she asked those in the room. “And all hell broke loose. Everybody was hooting and hollering at us, asking us to have her repaint it, and of course, we didn’t. But a little old lady came to me, and she says, ‘This couldn’t have happened in California, because you have to have your neighbors approve the color or you can’t use that paint.’ And she says, ‘And that’s why I’m not in California.’”
Pinedale is leading the state in population growth, however. New businesses are sprouting, and in the future, it is likely that chain stores and restaurants will follow suit. The ordinance would give the town legal leverage to maintain certain aesthetic standards.
“If somebody wants to buy (an empty building) and make it a Taco Bell, it’d be nice if we could say, we’d like for Taco Bell to fit in with our town,” said Fogerty. “Right now, there’s absolutely no way that we could do that.”
Some in attendance were wary of historical connotations that were discussed during the conversation, as well as the western theme that seemed so popular, which involves natural-looking building materials.
“I think what makes Pinedale unique and have a unique character is there is no particular theme,” Clint Gilchrist said. “I almost think (the western theme)’s boring, and if you do it too well, then you end up with a movie lot, and you don’t need that for the town.”
Others were fully supportive of the idea, and praised the commission for initiating the idea.
“I want to commend you guys for being foresightful,” said Dave Vlcek. “This is wonderful. We’re getting ahead of the game now, as opposed to being so reactant.”
Suggestions were made by some in attendance and included various options available to the commission.
Instead of an ordinance, the commission could offer tax incentives to businesses that apply the guidelines.
Or perhaps a voluntary group of businesses could be formed, all agreeing to comply with a certain set of standards.
This option is similar to the Mainstreet Project being spearheaded in Pinedale by Martha Ptasnik. It is a statewide project that provides matching grants to those refurbishing and improving downtown areas.
Educating incoming businesses was also another suggestion. For businesses to succeed, they will do what it takes to appeal to the market. By educating businesses, they will conform to the surrounding standards.
“I don’t think we have an immediate threat of the big box thing,” said James Rogers. “I think that it’s good to be thinking of that thing, but I think education is huge. Education will go a lot further than regulation.”
In the end, the commission was given many things to ponder. At the forefront is the need to clarify exactly what this ordinance would entail. Many in the audience were confused by the exact purpose of the ordinance, and how it would look on paper.
Is it intended for ‘box businesses’? Would building materials be regulated? What architectural standards would be applied? What theme would be sought? Are rights being impinged?
“It’s a fine line,” said Fogerty. “You’ve gotta be careful as far as finding that line between a common good for the community and not exceeding or crossing over someone’s property rights.”
— In other P&Z news, it is still awaiting the Town Council’s appointment of a fifth commission member to fill the vacancy.
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