Zoning rule eased on Midland cake shop

       The Colorado Springs Planning Commission voted to uphold a Land Use Review recommendation March 15, in support of loosening the zoning condition on the Midland area's Little London Cake Shoppe.
       Erin McCauley, who had shaped the City Land Use Review position, confirmed this week that no appeals were filed within the prescribed 10-day period after the Planning Commission decision, making it final.
       The vote essentially changes the previous zoning condition that prevented the owners, Jane and Larry Vasterling, from selling the business or even designating someone else to operate it. The location is in a commercial building at Bott Avenue and 25th Street, in the midst of a residential neighborhood. The Vasterlings (featuring Jane as the lead cake-maker) have owned the business for 22 years, the last 15 at the current site. They have said they have no plans to sell, but even if they did, the amended zoning would still allow no other use than a commercial bakery.
       The 5-0 commission vote (four members were absent) came despite opposing comments from two residents.
       One of them, Katherine Walsh, said her family has lived in the neighborhood for decades and previously fought to rezone it from commercial to residential. When the Vasterlings first proposed the shop, neighbors were OK with that because they like them personally; however, changing the condition to continue the use itself could lead to a “slippery slope” toward commercialization, Walsh said.
       Another opponent, Larry Sipe, a 30-year resident, lives next door to the shop. He complained about problems with early-morning deliveries, parking and trash control and expressed a worry that his children - whom he'd like to have his house after he's gone - “will fight the same things.”
       However, the commission agreed with McCauley that the Vasterlings have already taken positive recent steps on delivery times (eliminating wee-hours arrivals), parking (through improved signage) and trash (through an animal-proof dumpster). The vote further mandates delivery times of 7 a.m.-7 p.m., certain parking controls and an enclosure to enhance dumpster security.
       As for Walsh's comments, commission member Diann Butlak said, “I think that about every decision in land use could in one way or another be a slippery slope. If we looked on it that way, we'd virtually be frozen.” Additionally, she said, in her experience, of all the problems neighborhood advocates have warned would result from Planning Commission votes, “90 percent of them didn't happen.”
       Sipe raised one other issue - the hum from the oven fan (situated on the roof). “I just can't take this noise anymore,” he said. However, city legal staff told commission members they could not place conditions on the fan, because the sound is within the allowed decibel standards.
       Nevertheless, Larry Vasterling said afterward - as he had previously said at a neighborhood meeting - that he would like to find a way to lessen the sound if it means being a good neighbor. One of the commission members, Robert Shonkwiler, said during the meeting he has had experience with such matters; Vasterling said he might contact him for details.

Westside Pioneer article