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LAPAC Meeting Minutes
September 20, 2011
Members Present: Carla Brookman, Susanne Cordery-Cotter, Andre Duvall, Mandy Kotzman, Ed Ott, Cordelia Stone, Ed Stoner.
Larimer County Planning Staff Members Present: Matt Lafferty, Linda Hoffman
Meeting Called to Order: Mandy Kotzman (Chair) called meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.
Agenda: Adopted as written (Cordelia Stone made motion to adopt, seconded by Ed Stoner).
Meeting Minutes: August 16, 2011 meeting minutes were adopted as written (Cordelia Stone motion to approve, Ed Ott second, motion carried.
Member communication items:
1. Welcome Carla Brookman, newest member.
County Communication items:
1. Matt Lafferty reminded LAPAC members that the Boards and Commissions reception is Monday Sept 26th.
2. Library: Holly came to LaPorte pizza Johnson’s meeting, still do not want to build library but hope to improve services. If someone offers space they may use it. Library bought new computers with a grant from Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Susanne will invite Library representative(s) to present to LAPAC.
Personal Appearances: None
Bingham Hill Road 3924 Special Review
Linda Hoffmann presented a summary of the packet information. Special review request. Residence, camp with approval, and tree farm. This request adds a community hall use and reduces the number of seasonal camps allowed. Also it includes an appeal to use road base instead of asphalt, and includes an appeal for an off-premises sign because this property does not come out to Bingham Hill Road. See packet for history of submittals and appeals associated with this site. This project is “significantly changed” in the right direction for the reasons it was disallowed. LAPAC’s charge is to determine if this is consistent with the LaPorte Area Plan. Is it compatible and harmonious with the neighborhood? There might be conditions added to bring it to be harmonious.
Matt Lafferty: pg 15 of packet indicates the sign would be on Mr. Dixon’s land.
Ed Stoner: are the items listed on page 12 required conditions?
Matt Lafferty: No, they are the applicant’s proposal.
Mandy Kotzman: On pg 19, 3rd paragraph states 75 decibels (dB) is not comfortable for guests, but on pg 21 in the Table under comments, is says the level would be comfortable for guests. It appears to be based on the device used for the measurements. One has a sound range of 50; the other instrument? Also, Pg 13 second to last paragraphs states that 75 dB would not be an annoyance to a “reasonable” person – sound is perception, not reason.
Matt Lafferty: that is stated as per County Ordinance.
Randy Pope: Everyone that has opposition and supporters have seen this; there is not much to add. We’ve taken steps to mitigate this, met with neighbors, some refuse to discuss, some refuse to make suggestions for compromise. The feedlot hearing at North Taft Hill began with people up in arms; as I told commissioner Johnson, there are Four C’S - for the benefit of keeping Community together there must be Compromise, Communication and Cooperation; that is the key to reduce land use conflict. What we’ve heard is that nothing is acceptable. This is hard to swallow. This has divided the neighborhood; some won’t come because they don’t want to be pulled into the middle of this. We have done everything we can to fit the County code. Compatibility and harmony are subjective. We began with too much too soon; we were told to move the parking lot, we were near the road and neighboring property. We made those changes, reduced events to 60 and moved the parking lot. This was approved by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). On August 9 we were told there were no violations of approval. We never received calls from neighbors; their tact is to go to the BOCC. Approval was revoked. We have made mistakes, they were honest mistakes.
Mandy Kotzman: asked about the number of neighbors.
Randy Pope: There are 47 or 48 property owners on Bingham Hill Road, 4 neighbors have been consistently opposed, 1 is not here, 1 is off and on. It is easier to find people to oppose something. As Linda said, it is not LAPAC’s job to determine if the changes are good, but to evaluate whether these services are needed in LaPorte. It is hard to swallow “there are no solutions”. 75 decibels with no people is uncomfortable, the human body is the best acoustical absorber there is. Events will not exceed 75 dB – the question is what is the sound at the property line. We will put up fence and consider speaker placements. The Swing Station is heard but complaints are not registered. I have monitored it with a sound meter, these are not official measurements, if have found 85 to 96 decibels. Sound doubles with every three decibels. We have windows open and it doesn’t keep us up. It has been documented four times that we have not violated the noise ordinance. Noise nuisance is different, for example repetitive sounds, like barking dogs.
We had 17 or 18 weddings last year; most people around us never knew we had one. We will try and mitigate sound; please call and let us know what problems there are and we will be responsive.
Andre Duval: Who are the most opposed neighbors? Are they all close?
Randy Pope: Yes, all but one.
Sound travels a long way. The Sheriff’s department has measured our sound and said it is okay. “Reasonable” is a subjective term.
Ed Stoner: previously your proposal had 60 events?
Randy Pope: 20 events of 90 to130 people; 20 events of 60 to 90; 20 events of 60 or less. A camp counted as an event. We reduced camps to 5. BOCC approved 60 “events”. Weddings versus camps: at time of approval, all events were outside; there was no intent to use the gymnasium. In this proposal we have agreed to have any dance music beyond 75 decibels in the gymnasium. It has 20-foot walls and is fully insulated. We will put all noise inside. Yes there will be more weddings, but it will not be noisier. The gym is air conditioned, the doors face east and south, each has vestibule. There are two small windows, and small windows at the top. We had our daughter’s wedding in August, we had many comments regarding the kitchen etc. (invested $400,000), guests went out back out the east door, they could hear the Swing Station and not wedding noise. There were no complaints to my knowledge. You cannot hear us on Overland Trail, and we can hear Swing Station where we live.
Mandy requested people refrain from character assassination and stick to the issue at hand; and asked that people please not interrupt. Five minutes per person.
1. Joe Sullivan, I live at 4020 Bingham Hill Road with my wife and children. We are not immediate neighbors, but are across a neighboring property. The events there in the last summer and before, we heard them, there is impact there. We don’t feel this is compatible or harmonious. Going back to how this got started, it is not set up for that type of zoning, we would not have moved there if weddings would happen two properties away. People would not be in favor of this if they were immediate neighbors. Bingham Hill has two hills; the immediate neighbors number about 5. Four of them are opposed. This is not something we want to see happen it is not the nature of what Bingham Hill is.
2. Ken Ecton, address 4008 Bingham Hill Road. “reasonable is not in the Ordinance – read the ordinance. If more than 55 decibels at 25 feet from property line it is illegal. None of the 18 weddings met that standard. Uphold the LaPorte area plan – it specifically says an action of this sort is not a use by right, in this area. He has right to make an application; no reasonable opportunity to say it “is my right”. It must be consistent with the master plan, compatible with existing uses; in the LaPorte Area Plan there is no indication of commercial operation on Bingham Hill. This special use finds a loophole that goes around the need to change zoning to have 100 % commercial operation with one house. This operation is more intensive than before, there were 5,400 visits in last application, this is 5,300. Not a significant change. It is a more intense use. 33 weddings is intense use. My property is 300 feet away, Schmid is next door. Sound is a big issue. Visualize 130 people this far away talking, and keep raising voices. 130 people greater than 55 decibels is unlawful. Randy indicated the Health department made measurements and said it was not illegal; the correct answer is they did come out and measure - at our house, 300 feet away. The ordinance is clear: it will be measured at 25 feet. He did not do so, we asked him to. He measured 47 to 49 decibels at 300 feet. This was the quiet part of the wedding. If they continue to have meals outside – increases intensity, added lights. Now have exterior night lights. This proposal is much more intensive than previous proposals. Keep fidelity of your land use plan.
3. George Burnette, 4420 Bingham Hill Road. I hate to see the neighborhood divided, I have lived here 26 years. Sound has always been prevalent, the silica plant was heard on Overland, and deciding on whether property rights are negotiable. Developments – truck farm on 287, a person has a right to do what they want with property. As far as Pope’s, it is compatible. It will be bringing people to LaPorte because it is a beautiful place. Randy has done a beautiful job of it. Randy said neighbors complained about a wedding that weekend, he did not have a wedding, the noise was from the Swing Station, neighbors shoot guns, we don’t have a problem, the Junior High, it’s okay, football games at CSU noise, is ok. You learn to live with it. All is not super quiet. What Randy has done regarding sound in the gym is adequate. Daughter was married in August in Tapestry house; they have a band inside and measure decibels. If the band causes a problem he is responsible for complaints. No complaints there. I have heard applause from Randy’s weddings. There has been over-reaction, and no compromise; this is wrong. You should work with people in your environment; go to him to work it out.
4. Kelly Stadlan, 4110 Bingham Hill Rd, I was an employee at the Preserve at Bingham Hill, I lost my job and went on unemployment, got another job with less money. We hear the Swing Station till 1 a.m. in the morning. How come they can be so loud? I have lived here since 1963; I now live on Bingham Hill. My Dad started the fire dept here, there have always been businesses in LaPorte. When they built a new supermarket and hardware store we were thrilled, it brought jobs and community. I hate that our neighborhood is divided. I worked there in events; there was sound on one side of the building, but could not be heard on the other side. Popes have done all to mitigate impact, some mistakes were made, but they tried to make it right, you cannot make everyone happy. Calls were made regarding an event whenever an event was there. LaPorte should grow; people must come and spend money. I’ve lived here my whole life. It does not change much, but we need to be open minded, we always have been an embracing community, take care of kids, schools, fire dept, businesses, we took care of each other, did not divide and get petty. We went to the person and talked to them if there were issues. I hope we come together and take care of each other.
5. Kathleen Bigge, 2809 Galloway Drive, I have been here since 1950; my grandfather was the first forest ranger in the county. Kelly and George have echoed what I say; we need good businesses in LaPorte. Randy and Sheryl have done a terrific job, they have an appealing and eye catching, beautiful place for a wedding. Also it is a clean business, not industrial or manufacturing, not as noisy. They made mistakes but are correcting them. In business that’s how you learn, be open to community input. Noise from the bar – yes I hear it, does not bother me, I have never heard Randy’s.
6. Dennis Nater, 2215 N Overland trail; I live next to crazy Kathy. The job Randy had done is beautiful. The division is a few people. He will pay more taxes than others on Bingham Hill, this is important to Larimer County. Let’s shut down Tapestry and Swing Station - they are noisy. Give him an opportunity, if he screws up fine him and tell him to turn down the music. Allow enterprise in LaPorte, I’ve been here since 1978. Pig farmer at Joan’s , Roys stunk, we lived with it, we live ½ mile from feed lot, smelled shit at night, learned to live with that. This is not so obtrusive that it will ruin that section of Bingham Hill road. Money he is bringing in will help us all in the long run, we need to think about it or we’ll go broke.
7. Reed Pope: 3930 Bingham Hill. I have been here since 1956, I was the Principal of the school, a coach, started PHS, watched this community. I don’t know the LaPorte plan, but know the County Plan. The county code changed to allow this type of venue; he was the first one that attempted to have a facility like this under the new land code. If someone has an enterprise they want to start and it falls within the land code, they should be able to do it on their property. Our country is right now jobless and broke, all are saying get on track, make jobs, support the small business man, this is what Randy is doing, He will create jobs – caterers, bands. He falls within the code. News shows bankruptcy and foreclosures are on a downward trend. This venue would help in some degree. Not many new businesses have come to LaPorte, too bad if this panel, LAPAC would turn this down and say we don’t’ want businesses coming into LaPorte. Create jobs and keep this out of foreclosure,
8. John Cooper, 4913 Pueblo Drive, I have had a small business in this area, since 1973, had a farm across the road that became gravel pit, I put up with it. Randy has done nice with his place, it is what this community needs, it provides a few jobs, we’ve had slumps, laid people off, this country needs to get back to grass roots.
9. Travis Thompson, 3324 County Road 54, I help run the hardware store, it is important to have an influx of people to this area, we fight to keep our heads above water, anything bringing prosperity is needed and good for this community, keep it operating, we need some for more income coming to this area. There is barely enough to keep us above water, my grandparents put much into this community. Do what is good for the community. Nor for few but for many. Democracy is about that.
10. Joan Welch Schmid – we live at 4009 Bingham Hill, my husband had property across from Randy’s at 3708 Bingham hill Road. I have a litter of 17 pigs from 2 sows last august I sleep with the pigs, at 2 a.m. I heard a helicopter coming in and landing on Randy’s land, it was a wedding. The ponies were upset, east of Randy’s. No one told me a helicopter was coming in –it upset the pigs and ponies. Several things have happened. Randy’s daughter was married, had a party. Speakers were pointed to east, there was hip hop music at 9:30 so loud it disturbed the pigs. These are 4H pigs purebred for the kids of LaPorte. I want randy and Cheryl to be successful, but I want to keep this area a bit like it was. If land the use plan will help keep it that way.
11. John Schmid – 4009 Bingham Hill Road: I have opposed these applications in the past and continue to oppose. It introduces a commercial operation in a residential area; the new application is 33 weddings, if 200 people are at each it is a major intrusion in a neighborhood. Not much noise, but it does exist. Current application – noise was going to be contained. This was said with previous applications. It is a mismatch for the area in which we live.
12. Sandy Walker, 4008 Bingham hill, I have an emotional response to everything; it is not compatible or harmonious with the neighborhood. I came out in 1972 to house built in 1905, it was nice to move back in, it was a rural community, that’s what I wanted to live in and continue to live in, having events next door does not contribute to that.
REUBUTTAL BY APPLICANT:
The code change occurred in Jan 2009, it was to allow event centers seasonal camps etc in FA zoning, the zoning did not change but the allowance in this zoning changed, the zoning did not change, we were the first to go through the process, a result of the economy. I was in securities business till 2009, for 37 years, as a result of economy, I needed to do something different, had requests to use our property for events. Planning and Zoning - went through it and BOCC adopted it. Harmony and compatible are subjective words. Harmony more so. Compatible – consider Flowers House, Tamasag, Tapestry House, Primrose Studio – they are all event centers. They all have different issues. Parking issues for some. It boils down to what you are willing to live with before it become intrusive. We have done everything we can. Please do not divide the community. Compromise, communication, cooperation. We have pared it down from 130 to 60 and now to 45. If sound is indoors, then a wedding is no different than other events. It will create a number of jobs. Because BOCC revoked this we are in foreclosure, need to get it approved this way, or we will declare bankruptcy. We could create a subdivision per developers, bring water and sewer, let developer figure out what the density can be. It will be more than this event center. 260 day year – 17 trips. Two houses west of us account for 20; each house has 10 trips per day. Anyone using that traffic corridor with 2 houses will create more traffic than events center will. It could be a hell of a lot worse. We will hold on to the house, maybe not the nursery. It will be a subdivision; we’ll let a developer fight this one.
LAPAC MEMBERS DISCUSSION:
Susanne Cordery-Cotter: I find the application to be consistent with the LaPorte Area Plan.
Cordelia Stone: I find it to be consistent the LaPorte Area Plan
Ed Ott: it is no different than the Tapestry house, it is consistent.
Carla Brook man: I also find it to be consistent. I was on the board when the Tapestry House applied, we placed conditions and approved it.
Ed Stoner – I do not have a different position than last time, it must prove it’s compatibly. Ms. Bigge would not want this next door, the property values will go down, and it is not a compatible use.
Andre Duval: – same. It is not inconsistent with the LaPorte Area Plan, but it is inconsistent with the harmony of the neighborhood around it. If it was next door to me I would oppose it too.
Mandy Kotzman: See the map on pg 42 of the LaPorte Area Plan, proposed zoning: was residential one per 2+ acres, so when plan was produced people thought the neighborhood was slated as residential, so it is not consistent with the proposed land use for that area.
Linda Hoffmann: The way the zoning code works, FA allows variety of uses, the principal use on this site is a residence. You can add seasonal camp and tree farm. Can have multiple uses on a property even if they are accessory uses. The LaPorte Area Plan is a policy document, not law. Larimer County has acknowledged people have existing rights with the existing zoning and cannot snip those away. The LaPorte Area Plan is a vision. See pg 69 of the plan – recognize zoning. Page 70 special review applications – some uses may not be compatible, require special review. They must comply with land use code criteria. LAPAC can recommend conditions.
Mandy Kotzman: this application is not compatible with the neighborhood. Bystanders become reporters. The Swing Station has been complained about; you must call out the sheriff to mediate the problem. I agree with attracting businesses to LaPorte, but so far this in this location is problematic. I cannot support it.
Carla Brookman: about being consistent – it is the nature of venue, brides don’t want to be married on a busy strip. That is part of the appeal. People want to have weddings there. Weddings sites are in places where people have loved the land. Therefore it is logical place for a wedding venue. Bingham Hill is a lovely road. It houses runners and bicyclists. Brides want to be married in a pristine place.
Andre Duval: what brides want conflicts with the neighbors.
Mandy Kotzman: I am nervous to allow it , someone has to police it. It pits neighbors against each other, I am concerned about compatibility.
Susanne Cordery-Cotter: The Popes have implemented large measures (fencing, trees, etc), this is now mitigated to a residential level of operation.
Andre Duval: it is not compatible.
Motion by Susanne Cordery-Cotter: Motion to approve the application as presented here tonight; it is consistent with the LaPorte Area Plan.
Discussion – motion was amended to prohibit helicopters.
Seconded by Ed Ott.
Discussion – Ed stoner – it is not compatible, Bingham hill is treasure of the County.
Andre – this is about a neighborhood, not the economy.
Vote on the motion:
8:55 p.m. motion to adjourn by Andre, Cordelia second. Meeting adjourned.