The Silverton Board of Adjustment voted 4-1 Thursday evening to uphold the town staff's ruling that Mountain Boy Sledworks' shop behind Smedley's Ice Cream Parlor is a manufacturing operation not allowable downtown.
Voting to declare the sled-making shop inappropriate for downtown under current zoning were Jim Lindaman, Chris Tookey, Aaron Brill and Ken Safranski. Ernie Kuhlman voted against the motion.
The next step is for the Town Council to decide if it wants to file a lawsuit against Mountain Boy Sledworks over the issue.
The Town Council has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.
The council will meet with Town Attorney Jeff Robbins to see if the town wants to spend money on legal fees to close down the 2-person sled-making shop. That meeting will likely be an executive session.
Several Silvertonians spoke in support of Mountain Boy Sledworks at the hearing Thursday, and town officials acknowledged they have received no complaints about the "manufacturing" operation downtown.
The town's enforcement action against Mountain Boy Sledworks has drawn criticism in the media, with the Denver Post editorializing that "grownups need to intervene in this spat."
Kicksleds glide down Blair Street. While this activity is considered
acceptable for downtown, building such sleds is out of bounds, town
By Mark Esper
A dispute over whether sled-making is an appropriate activity for downtown Silverton will be aired at sundown today.
It’s the case of Mountain Boy Sledworks vs. the Town of Silverton. The town's Board of Adjustment will hear arguments at 5 p.m. at Town Hall in the zoning dispute.
But before that meeting, the board had to make some adjustments of its own.
Today’s session at Town Hall will be to tackle the question of whether the small sled-making shop behind Smedley’s Ice Cream Parlor is an “arts and crafts” operation — which is considered acceptable for downtown — or a “light industry” — which would not be allowed without a zoning variance.
But before that question can even be addressed, two members of the board had to recuse themselves due to potential conflicts of interest.
The Board of Adjustment is comprised of Fritz Klinke, Aaron Brill, Jim Lindaman, Terry Rhoades and Chris Tookey. It hears variance requests and appeals of administrative decisions made by town officials.
Klinke, who is the planning commission chairman, also holds the mortgage for the building in question. He will be replaced in the hearing by Planning Commission member Ken Safranski.
Meanwhile, County Commissioner Terry Rhoades also had to recuse himself, since he is the brother-in-law of Town/County Building official Dee Jaramillo. He will be replaced by County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman.
In a memo to the Board of Adjustment, Town Planning Director Adam Sickmiller reviewed the case against Mountain Boy Sledworks and explained why town zoning officials see the sled-manufacturing operation as being a potential slippery slope.
The trouble started in early October, when town officials detected Mountain Boy Sledworks moving into the shop behind Smedley’s. The sled-making operation had previously been in the town’s Economic Development zone, where light industry is permissible.
Sickmiller said that on Oct. 15, town officials notified Mountain Boy Sledworks owner Brice Hoskin that his operation constituted “fabrication, manufacture and assembly” and was therefore not permitted downtown.
Hoskin filed an appeal Nov. 5, setting the stage for today’s hearing.
Sickmiller noted that in the sledworks’ business license issued in 2006 for its operation at 1830 Cement Street, the facility was described as being for “sled manufacturing.”
The town’s staff determined the use to most closely fit a “fabrication, manufacture and assembly facility for two reasons,” Sickmiller said. “The sled is a standardized product similar to custom skis and snowboards, and in their own application for a business license, Mountain Boy Sledworks described their operation as ‘sled manufacturing.’”
Sickmiller said that while Mountain Boy states that each of its sleds are “as unique as a snowflake,” town staff found they aren’t so unique after all, and “the differences between sleds of the same model are minor enough to be completely indistinguishable to a lay person.”
Sickmiller said that “no argument could be made that Mountain Boy produces anything but a standardized product.”
He said not much in the way of arts and crafts skills are involved.
“The sled is made from a pile of parts interchangeable from one sled to the next — the slats, runners and handles are all interchangeable and could easily be swapped from one sled to the next.”
Sickmiller argued that the intent of the B-P zoning was to limit the area to uses that don’t have an impact beyond the lot line.
He said town staff subsequently encountered “equipment and sawing noises” originating from the sled-making shop that had “a discernable audible impact on adjacent properties.”
In his appeal, Hoskin says the shop is for “crafting our signature one-of-a-kind sleds,” with fewer than 200 produced in Silverton each year.
He said the shop uses only non-toxic, nonflammable glues and finishes, and the room where finishing is done is vented to the outdoors.
And he said the 1996 building permit for the addition in question included an occupancy rating of B2, which Hoskin said allows “printing plants … factories and workshops using material not highly flammable or combustible.”