By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
Carbondale’s elected leaders last week gave approval for the use of a house at 126 E. Main St. for the Children’s Rocky Mountain School, a pre-school for up to 20 students.
The house, which has been the home of Mary Anderson and her son, Pat, for decades, is under contract for purchase by the school at a price of approximately $500,000, is to be significantly renovated to accommodate the school’s use.
The unanimous approval came after a contentious series of hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission, which unanimously recommended approval by the Board of Trustees [BOT], and the BOT itself.
The school, which has operated for more than a quarter of a century on the grounds of Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) just outside of town, is moving because its old space is needed by CRMS for other uses, according to pre-school director Debbie Condello.
At several meetings before the P&Z, and at the BOT hearing, opponents of the move argued that, among other objections, a pre-school at that location would:
• Cause unacceptable parking congestion and traffic in the 100 block of Main Street;
• Be a noisy distraction for employees of businesses trying to work on that block;
• And would generate too much noise for guests at the Marble Distilling Company and Distillery Inn, a combined distillery and hotel that is next door to the new school site.
But the trustees, while sympathetic to the concerns expressed by the opposition, concluded that the school could co-exist with its neighbors and would be a valuable addition to the business and social climate of Main Street.
The school, said former Trustee Pam Zentmyer, “would help breath more vibrancy and vitality into the downtown” and would be helpful to parents who work downtown and might appreciate a pre-school close by.
The trustees also apparently were moved by the argument from the school’s proponents that they had tried to find another location for the school in and around Carbondale, but could not.
As the hearing wore on, supporter after supporter got up to praise the school for the quality of its education and the management abilities shown by Condello at the old location, and predicted that she would do an equally good job at the new location.
Trustee Ben Bohmfalk, remarking that the school will be operating under a Special Use Permit that can be revoked if the school does not live up to a set of conditions included with the approval, noted the unanimous recommendation for approval from P&Z, which he felt should not be ignored.
“I think it’s a good thing for the community,” he concluded. “I support it.”
The trustees added an eleventh condition to the 10 recommended by the P&Z, restricting the number of “special events” that could be held on school grounds to raise money and achieve other goals, and requiring that those special events be limited to “within reasonable hours” out of respect for the hotel and other neighbors.
In other action the trustees:
• Approved a hotel/restaurant liquor license for The Beat, a business at 968 Main St.;
• Approved special-event liquor licenses for the Carbondale Clay Center First Friday celebration on June 3; the Carbondale Clay Center Cajun Clay Night on June 18; and the CASA of the Ninth bike riding event on June 25;
• Approved retail marijuana permits for S.P. Carbondale LLC and a marijuana-infused products manufacturing permit renewal, as well as a permit for modification of premises, for the Colorado Product Services company (also known as Doctor’s Garden).
Published in The Sopris Sun on May 5, 2016.