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Controversial avenue brewpub plan goes to Planning Commission Aug. 20

       A proposed Near Westside brewpub needing major breaks from city codes for parking and proximity to homes will go before the Colorado Springs Planning Commission Thursday, Aug. 20.
       The public hearing will likely be controversial. Numerous residents have provided spoken or written objections.
       However, the proposal for the Cerberus Brewing Company has the blessing of Michael Turisk, the city planner assigned to the project. In his recommendation, he
A southwesterly view from Seventh Street across the proposed Cerberus property shows its proximity to one of the homes along McKinley Place. In the foreground is the alley that the property owners would like vacated as part of the project submittal.
Westside Pioneer photo
expresses the belief that although neighborhood issues exist, they are outweighed by the project's contributions to city goals for “urban infill.”
       Purchased in May by area resident Jerry Morris (principal owner of Cerberus), the 9,250-square-foot property is at 702 W. Colorado Ave. The 3,538-square-foot building was once used to house a veterinary clinic. The new use would include a brewery and bar, as well as a small restaurant on the building's second floor.
       Turisk's optimism is shared by Ryan Lloyd, the developers' architect. He predicts in his Project Justification document that the property, which will undergo extensive renovation and landscaping, “will be part of the renaissance to further developing this area and have a positive effect on surrounding neighborhoods.”
       Cerberus has made four requests in all, but because one of them is for a zone change - which would cut its parking requirements in half - the matter will have to go to City Council, regardless of how the commission votes.
       The site is commercially zoned, but directly behind it, along McKinley Place, is a residential zone, with homes on either side of the street.
       The proximity issue reflects the owners' wish to maximize the property's available space. As such, a “beer garden” and a parking lot (both west of the main building) would extend to the fence on the west property line.
       Homes are on the other side of the fence. Without relief from the city, such a layout would be in violation of the city code requiring 200 feet between homes and “on premises liquor establishments.” The Cerberus
A graphic by project architect Ryan Lloyd shows the proposed layout of the Cerberus Brewing Company at 702 W. Colorado Ave. North is up. The layout also indicates the proximity of the parking lot (indicated by an area drawn with straight lines indicating spaces for cars) and beer garden (the curved area with little rectangles) on the west side of the property to the residences along McKinley Place. The closest home, at the corner of McKinley and Colorado, has the actual address of 712 W. Colorado.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Planning
request (for what's technically called a “non-use variance”) is to allow a 0-foot setback instead.
       In his comments, Turisk suggests that the parking lot “would provide some measure of buffer” for the homes. In addition, under the proposed development plan, “the existing chain link fencing would have slats installed to provide visual mitigation,” his document states, noting also that trees will be planted by the fence to “provide for natural screening, especially at maturity.”
       He further advises that the Cerberus management “should strive to reduce the amount of adverse impact by minimizing noise and transient outdoor light generation.”
       Turisk has not recommended any conditions on hours of operation or when and where bands might play, but he has called for no outdoor speakers or sound system after 9 p.m.
       A written comment from a homeowner on McKinley reads as follows: “We have an 8-month-old son and would rather not have to deal with having a party on the block every night. We would not have bought our home two years ago knowing a brewpub was going to be next door, and we fear that having a business that keeps late hours and music so close by may jeopardize the resale value of our home. Our neighbors, too, have a baby on the way in August and have voiced concern as well. Knowing they were moving into a home near a bar may have kept them from going through with their investment.”
       Another property owner argues that a “liquor establishment with light and noise, immediately outside the bedroom window, is absolutely unacceptable. Attempts at buffering this use with fences or walls and planting will only result in blocking of light and air and walling in of the home and yard.”
       The zone change to halve the on-site parking requirement is also key to the project because otherwise the suggested 20 parking spaces would be well short of the 35 deemed necessary under city code.
       Technically, the Cerberus parking request is to be given a C-5P zone (“P” standing for “Planned Provisional Overlay”). Established by City Council in 1983, it is available to commercially zoned (C-5) properties between 7th and 23rd streets.
       More than 20 businesses have been approved for C-5P over the years, Westside Pioneer research has shown. Westside historian Dave Hughes told the Pioneer previously that the goal
A view from the Cerberus property (looking north) shows the old alley that would be vacated, if the city approves project plans. This would allow some of the proposed parking spaces. There are no plans for the little triangle of land beyond the alley, which is also part of the property. Some of the homes in the surrounding residential neighborhood can be seen in the background.
Westside Pioneer photo
was originally to help the smaller businesses which were then starting to appear in the avenue's older houses.
       Lloyd's justification document argues that the site's difficult terrain and existing construction have limited the on-site parking that can be provided, leading to an “exceptional condition” that qualifies it for relaxed requirements. Turisk's recommendation also uses the "exceptional condition" term, agreeing that the property suffers from constraints “that are not self-imposed.”
       The McKinley residents have argued that the impact of granting a C-5P for Cerberus will be cars constantly parking on the streets in front of their homes. Similar concerns have been stated by property owners, business owners and residents along the 100 block of South Seventh Street, just south of the avenue. “This is a neighborhood that already has a shortage of parking, and this will make the problem worse,” states a petition signed by 13 people from that block.
       Turisk concedes that “there would be some measure of impact to general public parking along area street rights-of-way. However, the availability of on-street parking… is deemed sufficient to absorb overflow parking.” He also offers the opinion that “parking requirements can hinder infill projects, particularly when the site is not large enough to accommodate the required minimum number of spaces, such as the case here.”
       Lloyd's project justification adds the point that the owners will “heavily promote bicycling, walking [and] public transit” to reduce the number of customers arriving in cars. As part of this effort, there will be 18 bicycle parking spots, he states.
       A related neighborhood worry is that the brewpub's existence would invite “bar crawling,” as one e-mail to the city cautions, pointing to two other bars currently along the avenue (and a third that's planned in the former firehouse in the 800 block). Another writer states, “We already have so many alcoholics walking the sidewalks in this area of our town, begging and even some acting insanely.”
       The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside, has asked the city questions about the proposal, but as of Aug. 16 had not announced if it was taking a position for or against.
       On the parking issue last spring, OWN had suggested asking the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), located a half-block up Seventh Street, to let Cerberus use its large parking lot after hours. However, a PPACG spokesperson has since rejected the idea, saying that even after hours there would be a potential for conflict with people needing PPACG services.
       The other two Cerberus requests of the city are for a development plan (showing the layout of the property) and for what's known as a “vacation of right of way,” (asking the city to give up a little-used public alley that bisects the northerly end of the property - this would allow some of the proposed parking spaces).
       A neighborhood meeting was held in May, at which the resident concerns were heard by the Cerberus team. Cerebrus' plan now is substantially the same as it was then.
       The Aug. 20 Planning Commission meeting, which includes other land-use agenda items as well, will start at 8:30 a.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 107 S. Nevada Ave.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 8/15/15; Land: Proposals)

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