Council Hears Property Appeals
By Staci McBrayer
The Black Hawk City Council met in the Council Chambers for their regularly scheduled meeting on September 24th, 2014. Mayor David Spellman, Aldermen Jim Johnson, Paul Bennett, Linda Armbright, Greg Moates, Hal Midcap and Benito Torres along with City Attorney Corey Hoffman and City Manager Jack Lewis were present.
250 Chase Street Sign Code Variance
Aldermen approved a sign code variance for 250 Chase Street. The issue had previously been continued from the September 10th meeting. Aldermen Midcap identified the issue as a conflict of interest and stepped down from his seat when the matter arrived in front of the Council.
The applicant was Midcap’s wife, Karen Midcap, of the Chase Creek Bed & Breakfast. Mrs. Midcap sought a variance to permit the use of an existing portable sign for advertising the business. Mrs. Midcap currently has a sandwich board to help identify and advertise the business.
Aldermen denied the requested sandwich board permit and instead approved the installation of a post with upper arm member to allow a business identification sign to be hung that would be visible to traffic traveling in both directions. Additionally, Aldermen approved the placement of the signpost on the owner’s property without any setbacks as long as the Director of Public Works approves it.
Aldermen reviewed two appeals to decisions made by the Community Planning & Development Administrator Cynthia Linker and City Staff.
The first appeal was for the denial of the site work component grant request to construct a soil stabilization wall behind Sean and Rebecca Conway’s home at 151 Marchant Street. Residential properties within a National Historic Landmark District or within an area listed on the National Register of Historic Places are allowed to participate in the City’s Historic Preservation Easement Program.
According to Conway, the rock topography behind the residence that has been fracturing and has resulted in rocks rolling into his driveway and onto Marchant Street. He said his fear is that one of the larger rocks will eventually hit the structure and cause damage. Conway argued that most houses on his street have stabilization walls to protect the structures.
Linker stated that City staff determined that a wall will not help the situation, but could in fact act as a launch pad for falling rocks. Linker said that scaling the hillside was as an alternative solution at the cost of $6,775. Linker noted that scaling would have to be redone every five to ten years, and also will not completely stop the rocks from falling.
The Council decided to affirm the decision of staff and denied the appeal with conditions. The conditions included authorizing the applicant to be put into the cue of the grant program. That grant application, when its turn comes up in the grant line up, could then be used to investigate a solution. Conway’s application will be placed in the cue based on its January of 2014 application date. In the interim, should the situation change, Conway would be allowed to apply for an emergency grant.
The second appeal was by applicants Mary Kay and Gerhard Schopen for the denial of their site work component grant request for a similar soil stabilization wall at 321 High Street. The Schopens gave a history of the damaged caused to the house by rocks falling from the steep hillside behind the structure. The back wall of the home was almost completely destroyed before the house was rebuilt in 2006.
Linker and City staff originally denied the grant request due to similar reasons Conway’s was initially denied. Linker stated that scaling was considered at the cost of $9,750.
Council decided to handle the situation the same way it did Conway’s; the Schopen’s application will be place in the grant cue in order of its filing date (May 2013.) When the application comes up in the cue, it can be used to seek a solution. The Schopens will also have the opportunity to apply for an emergency grant should circumstances take a turn for the worse.
Opposing Amendment 68
Council unanimously voted to pass a resolution opposing Amendment 68. The resolution strongly urged the defeat of the November ballot issue, that would authorize limited-stakes gaming at casino racetracks in Arapahoe, Mesa, and Pueblo counties.
Attorney Hoffman noted that under the Fair Campaign Practicing Act, the City is limited in how it can address ballot questions; however, it does allow the City to express its support or oppositions of ballot issues.
Reasons for the opposition include the fact that the amendment does not include any local control. Additionally, the resolution quotes a recent Denver Post editorial stating that the City of Aurora and Arapahoe County would have to bear the cost of $63 million worth of infrastructure improvements without any assistance from the tax revenue created by the gaming.
111 Hillside Street New Shed Construction
The Council approved a minor amendment to existing improvements application for the construction of a new shed at 111 Hillside Street. Aldermen Armbright owns the property. Armbright identified the conflict of interest and stepped away from her seat when the issue was brought before the Council.
Though a building permit is not required for a shed due to its size, an amendment is required. The Historic Preservation Commissioner had previously evaluated the application and found that there was sufficient evidence for the request.
430, 450 & 460 Gregory Street Porch Floors Replacement
Aldermen approved another minor amendment to existing improvements by allowing the replacement of porch floors at 430, 450, and 460 Gregory Street. The buildings are City owned and are located in Mountain City. The current porches, installed in 2003, are cracked, worn and require annual maintenance be performed by public works in order to prevent further deterioration. The porches would be replaced with long-lasting Trex Select brand of composite wood decking with no maintenance needed.
Ed & Shirley, Inc. Lease
Aldermen approved a lease agreement with Ed & Shirley, Inc. for a parking lot located in the 200 block of Gregory Street between Gregory and Church Streets. The lot contains approximately sixty parking spaces. As per the lease, the City would receive $2,500 per month plus a yearly increase for inflation.
Cholua Brothers Mining Company, Inc. Lease
Additionally, the Council approved a lease agreement with Cholua Brothers Mining Company, Inc. for 470 Gregory Street. The property is in Mountain City and is known as the “The Barn.” Cholua Brothers operates a coffee shop out of the location.
The terms of the three-year lease include $100 per month for rent with a yearly inflation increase, $500 deposit, and Common Area Maintenance Fees for Mountain City to be paid by the Cholua Brothers.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Jack Lewis sought and received permission from the Council to sell radio equipment no longer being used by the City. Lewis said the equipment uses a frequency different from what the City uses. He cited that a potential buyer has been located who is willing to pay approximately $2,500 for the equipment.
The next regularly scheduled meeting for the Black Hawk City Council is Wednesday, October 8th at 3:00 p.m. in the council chambers located upstairs at 211 Church Street, Black Hawk.