Helenberg’s neighbors not thrilled by warehouse idea

       An informal plan for an office/warehouse development next to Crown Hill Mesa homes met with some resistance at a neighborhood meeting Feb. 28.
       More than 50 people packed the Gold Camp Elementary School library to find out about the proposal - as yet unsubmitted to the city - by Crown Hill developer Chuck Helenberg and consultant Grant Smith for three units on the 3.1-acre, triangle-shaped property northwest of Moreno Drive and Lower Gold Camp Road.
       The lots would be landscaped, with common architectural standards and access off Moreno Drive, Smith said. The site now has mixed zoning, but it's mostly M-1 (manufacturing). A zone change to make it all M-1 would be part of the application.
       The main neighborhood concerns, based on comments during the meeting, were noise, messy outdoor storage and buildings blocking views.
       Helenberg, who also lives in Crown Hill Mesa, said he's been looking for a use for the property that would blend in with the neighborhood and result in minimal traffic. “I've got to drive by it every day, too,” he pointed out. However, he added, he needs to do something with the land because of the mortgage he's paying on it. He even offered to sell it, noting that his mortgage is $820,000.
       He heard a variety of alternative development suggestions from attendees. The most popular were those calling for a park or other public recreational use. But Ryan Tefertiller, the city planner assigned to the project, cautioned that the city was unlikely to put a park on that location after developing the 5-acre Gold Camp Park for Crown Hill Mesa last year scarcely a quarter-mile west on Lower Gold Camp Road.
       Some asked about putting housing on the site. Helenberg said that with the proximity to the Norris-Penrose Event Center (on the south side of Lower Gold Camp/Rio Grande Street), “I don't think anybody would want to live there.”
       He conceded that townhomes or condos might sell, “but I've found that after the initial owners, they rent them.”
       Responding to a suggestion for a small shopping center, Helenberg pointed to the competition from nearby South Eighth Street, which is heavily commercial. “How many restaurants are vacant there now?” he asked, rhetorically.
       Overall, he reassured residents that “whatever we do” on the 3.1 acres will look good and “at least keep property values level.”
       Tefertiller advised the residents that a development plan for any property can have requirements known as “conditions of record,” which go beyond zoning regulations. He mentioned as examples that conditions could be placed on building heights (40 feet is otherwise allowed in an M-1 zone), outdoor storage or design styles.
       Also at the meeting was Bob Willard, developer of under-construction Gold Hill Mesa, which neighbors Crown Hill Mesa on the north and west. He took a few minutes of the meeting to offer an apology for the dust storm from Gold Hill that plagued the area Feb. 24. “It was pretty bad that day,” he said. Willard has since brought back a water truck to help keep the dust down in uncapped or unvegetated parts of the property.
       Willard's presence also contributed to a moment of humor at the meeting. When one resident remarked that he has a “nice view” now that the office-warehouse development might take away, Helenberg wisecracked, “I did too, but then he [pointing at Willard] put that stuff up behind me.”
       It is not known when a plan for the site will be formally submitted to the city. For more information, Tefertiller can be reached at 385-5382.

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