By Mark Esper
The Silverton Town Council on Monday night approved a tentative peace agreement with the owner of the small sled-making shop behind Smedley’s ice cream parlor, signaling a possible end to hostile actions.
Under the provisional accord, the town will not pursue legal action for what Town Administrator Jason Wells described as a “known zoning violation” if the building’s owners, Paul and Sharon Zimmerman, apply for a zoning change within seven days after the deal is signed.
In the draft agreement written by Town Attorney Jeff Robbins, the town and the Zimmermans will also share the cost of an architect’s review of the small shop space to see if it is compatible with an alleged “change of use.”
The Town Council approved the settlement in a unanimous vote, with Brison Gooch absent.
The agreement would put an end to a squabble that started in early October when Mountain Boy Sledworks moved into the small shop behind Smedley’s.
The building’s owner was hit with a stop-work order for a minor renovation project and was subsequently found to be in violation of zoning for downtown.
The town’s Board of Adjustment last week shot down Mountain Boy Sledworks appeal on the zoning matter.
But that board, in denying the appeal, added a provision to the motion, suggested by Ken Safranski, who was filling in for Fritz Klinke. It recommended “that the Town allow temporary use if an application for ED-L (Economic Development-Limited) zone change is submitted.”
The provisional settlement announced Monday night mirrors that suggestion.
Paul Zimmerman said Monday night that he had just received the proposed armistice and had forwarded it to his lawyer.
Wells said that following the Town Council’s Dec. 8 executive session with the town’s attorney, Robbin, a meeting was set up with the owners of the shop and Mountain Boy Sledworks.
Wells said that under the agreement, the town will not issue a citation and the sled-making shop can continue operations.
Trustee Jim Lindaman suggested the owners of Mountain Boy Sledworks should also share the cost of the architect’s review of the shop and its renovations.
Wells explained that the Zimmermans, as owners of the building, are the responsible party the town is dealing with in the matter.
“It’s an owner-town issue,” Wells said. He said he didn’t want to make substantial changes that would result in the accord unraveling.
“We put a lot of time and work coming to this agreement,” Wells said.
Zimmerman, speaking to the Town Council on Monday night, said there was one loose end he still wanted resolved.
“I have one more request out of all of this,” Zimmerman said. “I want to receive in writing why the town thinks it was a change of use.”
He said he never received an answer to that.
“We’re not trying to break the law,” Zimmerman said. He read from the UBC building code that described a B2 designation, such as that for the small sled shop, to be acceptable for use as “factories and workshops using materials that are not highly flammable.”
Town Trustee David Zanoni expressed concern about a possible precedent being set by the town agreeing to share the cost of the architect’s review of the site.
Mayor Terry Kerwin said this case is unusual.
“This is the first time something like this has come up in ump-teen years,” Kerwin said. “This is the best way to settle it without going to court.”
Trustee Pat Swonger said the town needs to revisit policies that may have gone awry in the sled-shop fracas.
“We need to address the procedure for how stop-work orders are done,” Swonger said. “It’s obvious things were not don’t ideally here. I’m glad we’re settling this. It’s an issue that’s gone way too far.”