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Gregory Street revitalization with pedestrian plaza

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Black Hawk Council Approves Marijuana Establishments

By Staci McBrayer

The regularly scheduled Black Hawk City Council Meeting was brought to order on October 23 with Alderman Paul Bennett ringing the large bell in the building’s steeple. Those present along with Alderman Bennett were Mayor David Spellman, Aldermen Linda Armbright, Benito Torres, Gregory Moates, Diane Cales, and Jim Johnson, City Clerk Jeanie Magno, City Manager Jack Lewis, and City Attorney Corey Hoffmann were present as well.

Marijuana Establishments

After the unanimous approval of the minutes from the October 9th meeting, the Council proceeded to public hearings. The first was on ordinance CB 47, which amended the municipal code to add marijuana establishments in the History Appreciation Recreation Destination (HARD) zoning district. The ordinance allows for retail, medical and dual establishments. City Attorney Corey Hoffman reminded the Council that distance limitations on such businesses were still applicable regardless of the new zoning.

After no public comment, the board unanimously approved the measure.

Rezoning of the former Mutual of Omaha Property

The Council then held a public hearing for CB 48, which rezones city-owned property from Core Gaming zoning to the HARD District. The property is known as the former Mutual of Omaha property, and includes lots on the north side of Gregory Street between Church Street and Selak Street that currently serve as a parking lot, the property at 211 Gregory Street, and the Winner’s Haven Casino located at 260 Gregory Street.

The rezoning is an attempt to preserve the properties’ historical and cultural values and will incorporate them into the Gregory Street Corridor. The Council unanimously approved the changes after no public comments.

GOLD District Creation

  The Council approved CB 49, an ordinance amending the municipal code to create a new gaming and entertainment district known as the Gaming Outstanding Lodging and Dining (GOLD) District. The rezoning seeks to encourage a complementary mix of restaurant and lodging accommodations as part of the City’s ongoing efforts to be a destination resort community. Permitted principal uses would be casino establishments whose casino activities may not represent more than 35% of the gross floor area of the building. The rest of the floor space is to be retail shops and services, lodging, restaurants, bars and lounges, indoor recreation and amusement, and parking.

Public Comment on the ordinance came from Ed Smith, General Manager at the Black Hawk Station Casino. Smith asked the Council how the proposed GOLD District would affect the lot sizes. Hoffman explained that the PUD zoning for any currently zoned casino would remain unchanged but any future rezoning in the GOLD District with deviations in lot size would have to seek PUD zoning.

Rezoning Properties to the GOLD District

The Council approved CB 50, an ordinance that would rezone several properties to the GOLD gaming and entertainment district. Properties located within the proposed GOLD district rezoning area are composed of properties currently zoned in the Millsite, Core, and Transitional Gaming zones. The new GOLD District zoning will replace the existing zoning districts, however, each existing Planned Unit Development (PUD) will remain in effect. City Attorney Cory Hoffman also noted that the rezoning does not change any entitlements that Casinos now in the GOLD District already have.

No public comment was made on the issue.

Gregory Street Plan Adoption

  Acting as the Planning Commission, the Council approved Resolution 40-2013. The resolution seeks to amend the City’s Comprehensive Plan by designating the Gregory Street Corridor as a new Sub-Area. The Gregory Street Sub-Area Plan is an effort to preserve Black Hawk’s rich history as many of the buildings in the Sub-Area represent the 19th century mining era; however, nearly all the buildings are vacant.

The Sub-Area Plan would bring significant changes to the Gregory Street Corridor including relocating it to the south in order to create a pedestrian plaza area where a significant portion of the existing street is located. The proposed developments would create a new pedestrian style plaza adjacent to the relocated Gregory Street, thus separating the vehicular Gregory Street from the pedestrian plaza.

Demolition of Winner’s Haven Casino/Black Forest Inn and Lilley Belle’s Casino

 Resolution 41-2013 was approved by the Council issuing a Certificate of Appropriateness for the demolition of a non-contributing structure located at 260 Gregory known as the Winner’s Haven Casino/Black Forest Inn.

The buildings compromise a total of 22,920 square feet. One section of the structure purportedly dates back to at least 1890, and is believed to be surrounded by additions added in 1964 and 1992. In 1964, the Black Forest Inn was constructed with Bavarian/Alpine architectural features. The Winners Haven Section was added in 1992. The casino closed in 2008 and the building has been vacant since.

A 1986 National Park Service survey cited the Black Forest Inn as “non-contributing” as it had little historic material remaining from the period of historic significance. The building was again cited as “non-contributing” in 1991 when the city was added to the National Historic Landmark district.

The area in which the buildings reside was rezoned in May of this year as part of the HARD District and the property was purchased by the city in July. Due both to the inappropriateness of the building both historically and according to the uses allotted in the HARD District along with the redevelopment of the Gregory Street Corridor, the city sought the Certificate of Appropriateness for full demolition of the building.

The Council also approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for the demolition of the non-contributing structure at 301 Gregory, Lilly Belle’s Casino, in Resolution 42-2013. The 10,870 square foot building contains a circa 1950s section as well as a section added in 1992 which significantly altered the 1950s section from its original appearance. The alterations caused the National Historic Landmark district to deem the building “non-contributing.” Lilley Belle’s Casino closed in 1994, and the building has been vacant since.

Emergency Management IGA

  The Council opened up public discussion for CB 51, a proposed Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for emergency management between the City, Gilpin County and other various entities. The IGA agrees to provide functions, services, and resources during the event of a disaster emergency. No public comment was made, and the Council suspended any action on the matter until it could be discussed in executive session. After executive session, the measure was unanimously approved.

Partial Exemption

  Resolution 43-2013 was brought in front of the Council, which would grant partial exemption from the provisions of chapter 17 of the municipal code for city-owned property located at 137 Clear Creek Street. The city currently owns the property and has plans to create a condominium community, Clear Creek Commons. According to Hoffman, the resolution would take the property from a commonly subdivided property to condominium-subdivided property as authorized under Black Hawk Municipal Code.

The move is in anticipation in a potential transaction in which the city would ultimately convey one of the condo units to a third party. The transaction is not yet finalized, and the Council moved to continue the matter to the city’s next meeting.

Next Meeting

   The next Council meeting is November 6 at 3:00 p.m. at 211 Church Street, Black Hawk.

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