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Sled maker says town greasing the skids
From Silverton Standard, the place where you can write!
Posted on October 22 2009, 11:24am by Mark Esper in Local News category
 
Brice Hoskin, left, owner of Mountain Boy Sledworks, and Paul
Zimmerman, owner of Smedley’s Ice Cream Parlor and the
Pickle Barrel Restaurant, stand at the alley entrance to a small
shop behind Smedley’s. Between them is a a Stop Work Order
posted at the business Oct. 1 by town building inspector Dee Jaramillo.
 
 
At issue: Is sled-making a craft or an industry?
By Mark Esper
 
The dispute between town officials and a small sled-making operation run out of a shop behind Smedley’s ice cream parlor appears to be snowballing.
And the argument now centers around the question of whether hand-building a couple hundred sleds this winter amounts to a “craft” or a “manufacturing” operation.
The conflagration ignited on Oct. 1  when Silverton building inspector Dee Jaramillo posted a Stop Work Order at the shop’s entrance off the alley behind Smedley’s after observing a renovation project being carried out without a building permit. Jaramillo said he also advised Mountain Boy Sledworks owner Brice Hoskin and the owner of the building, Paul Zimmerman, that the proposed sled-making shop constitutes a change of use, and that they would have to have an architect review the project following the renovations.
Zimmerman later said that the renovation involved putting up some framing and plastic for a dust-free area. He estimated it was less than $200 in materials and a couple hours work for two people. The town’s code says a building permit is needed for renovations valued at more than $500.
Then, on Thursday, Oct. 15, town code enforcement officer Keith Thompson declared the sled-making shop to be in violation of zoning for the downtown area.
Thompson said in a letter to Hoskin that “fabrication, manufacturing and assembly facilities” are not allowed in the Business-Pedestrian zone downtown.
Thompson said that Mountain Boy Sledworks’ previous manufacturing facility at 1810 Cement Street was in the Economic Development zone and was permissible there.
In the Oct. 15 letter, Thompson warned Hoskin that “any and all operations” at 1314 Greene Street, behind Smedley’s “will be considered a violation of said Stop Work Order and town zoning codes.”
But Hoskin said Tuesday the Stop Work Order applied only to the minor renovation project.
“We did a project so small it was done before the Stop Work Order,” Hoskin said. “At this point, there’s nothing for us to be in defiance of.”
 Hoskin said town officials asked Mountain Boy Sledworks to cease all operations not permitted by the Town Code.
Hoskin says he has no problem with that.
“All our operations are in compliance with the Town Code,” he said.
“Ours is not the only woodworking operation on Greene Street,” Hoskin said. “It is clear that town officials are being arbitrary and capricious.”
Hoskin said town officials also recently questioned his business license, given the number of people he actually employs. He said most of those working on his sleds are independent contractors.
Hoskin said he expects his company to kick out about 200 sleds in Silverton this winter, most of those kicksleds.
Zimmerman, who owns the shop rented by Mountain Boy, expressed frustration about the town’s inflexibility on the matter, including the earlier dispute over the renovations. 
“It didn’t change the structure of Smedley’s,” Zimmerman said.
He said the shop space is a concrete and steel structure that was built for NA Graphics as a warehouse and light industrial space.
“It’s pretty straight forward,” Zimmerman said. “There aren’t many places around town where this can go on. I can’t use it for retail. It’s frustrating, I wish they’d get to the point.”
The point, according to Town Planner Adam Sickmiller, is that “I classified it as a fabricating, manufacturing and assembly facility” which is allowable in the town’s Economic Development-zoned area, but not downtown.
Sickmiller pointed out that Mountain Boy Sledworks has until Nov. 5 to appeal the town’s decision to the Board of Adjustment.
That panel, comprised of Fritz Klinke, Aaron Brill, Jim Lindaman, Terry Rhoades and Chris Tookey, hears variance requests and appeals of administrative decisions made by town officials.
“We haven’t received an appeal yet,” Sickmiller said Tuesday, but Hoskin said he plans to file such an appeal.
Sickmiller was asked why Venture Snowboards was allowed to operate its snowboard manufacturing facility in the Business-Pedestrian zone for some two years without interference from town officials.
He said that while town officials “never made an official decision on that” he considered Venture Snowboards’ manufacturing activities to be an “accessory” to its use of the building for office space and retail.
The Business-Pedestrian zoning for downtown allows arts and crafts studios and shops, but Sickmiller suggested Mountain Boy Sledworks may not qualify as being artsy and crafty.
Sickmiller acknowledged the town does not have a specific definition for “arts and crafts” in the code. But he said he considered “fabrication, manufacturing and assembly” facilities to “be something that can reasonably be expected to impact the neighbors.”
Sickmiller said no neighbors have complained about Mountain Boy Sledworks’ operating at its new location.
And Sickmiller said town officials are not singling out Mountain Boy Sledworks for any reason.
“All that the town officials are doing is looking at the situation at hand and applying the codes that have been adopted,” Sickmiller said, “and there are appeal processes they are welcome to.”
 
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