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Cortez council approves building plans over last-minute objections

New business and fire station pass despite concerns
An early design for the new Cortez fire station.

During a public hearing on Tuesday, the Cortez City Council unanimously approved two building site plans despite some questions from neighbors and the city engineer.

After the Planning and Zoning commission recommended approval for the site development plans for a new powder coating business in the Cortez Industrial Park and the new Cortez Fire Protection District station, the plans went before the city council. Just before the meeting, assistant city planner Neva Connolly brought forward a report from the city engineer listing several problems with the powder coating business’s site plan, and several neighbors also wrote in with questions about the new fire station. But after a lengthy discussion, the council voted to approve both plans.

The Planning and Zoning commission included several conditions in its recommendation for approving the powder coating site plan, such as that the applicants, Dave and Lana Waters, must move the building about 5 feet to comply with the city code’s 15-foot front-yard setback requirement. The Waters had already agreed to those conditions, but Connolly said she and the Waterses received a report from city engineer Ken Torres about 15 minutes before the hearing that added several other requirements the owners must meet.

“This kind of took me by surprise, walking in,” Dave Waters said.

He said several comments asked for information he had already provided. The report also claimed the building site is located in a floodplain, but Planning and Building Director Sam Proffer said it’s above the city’s defined flood zone and the Waterses have shown a willingness to make any change necessary to avoid extra flood insurance fees.

“I’m pretty confident that we know what needs to be done, and the Waters are amenable to go on ahead and give the information to the city engineer’s office,” Proffer said.

Mayor Karen Sheek questioned why the engineer’s report came so late, but she acknowledged that, since the January planning and zoning meeting took place later than usual, the site plan process may have been rushed. The city council voted to approve the new business’s site plan.

Although city officials had fewer concerns about the new fire station, Connolly presented written comments from several residents of the Washington Street area where the new building will be located, who were worried about the noise, dust and bright lights the construction would cause. Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde said he couldn’t guarantee that all construction would be carried out during business hours, as one person requested, but he would encourage the construction workers to keep noise and disturbances to a minimum.

“We will try to have a neighborhood meeting ... and discuss this with the neighbors to make sure we’re not going too late or too long,” he said.

He also assured the council that the station will follow the city code’s requirements for lighting and landscaping.

The council approved both a conditional use permit and a site plan for the new fire station, following the Planning and Zoning board’s recommendation. Construction on the station is set to begin this year.

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