Merchant group fight with city not anticipated over revocable permit issue

       The Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group has no current plans to take a position regarding a recent sweep in which City Planning's revocable permits officer wrote up violations at more than 50 businesses in Old Town.
       “The board hasn't discussed it,” said Nancy Stovall, executive director and a board member of the OCCA, in an interview this week. “I think the city has kind of gone overboard, but there are some things on the street that are just clutter. They (the city) may feel the only way to address that is to go down the line and make sure everyone is complying.”
       The scrutiny by City Planning's Sue Matz, who heads up Planning's revocable permits program, occurred in late June, after which she sent a letter to businesses found in violation, advising them of the problem and that they could apply for a permit. Most of the issues involved signs or awnings that stuck out over the city right of way, or merchandise that was placed out on the sidewalk.
       Stovall's own business, Pine Creek Art Gallery, were among those found to have a sign issue. “We have a banner that hangs out over the sidewalk,” she said. “I assume that's what she (revocable permits officer Sue Matz) meant.” Stovall doesn't plan to fight it. “For $40 a year (the cost of the permit), it's probably worth it.”
       One voice opposed to the city action is Gene Brent, a former businessman who helped lead Old Colorado City's revival in the 1970s. He believes Old Colorado City should still be covered by the municipal codes it had before its annexation to Colorado Springs in 1917. In those laws, businesses were allowed to have merchandise in front of their stores and signs that projected up to 3 feet from the avenue. A review of current city ordinances found no reference to those early laws, but Brent said he has called Matz, who told him she would check with the City Attorney's Office.
       What puzzles some merchants is why certain signs were identified as needing permits now when they have been in place for a quarter of a century or longer. Another violation that surprised many people was the American flags hanging about eight feet above the sidewalk in front of Pikes Peak National Bank.
       In addition to the 50-some in Old Colorado City - representing roughly half its businesses - Matz sent letters to about 10 businesses elsewhere on Colorado Avenue between I-25 and Manitou Springs. Other than permits relating to outside eating (handled differently), letter recipients will be asked to pay the city $40 a year and fill out paperwork explaining the need to encroach on the right of way.

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