Amir and Laura Safayan, a Colorado Springs couple that owns several commercial buildings in Woodland Park, wanted to change one commercial building on Center Street into a single family rental unit.
Residential uses in the central business district require conditional use permits and Amir Safayan appeared before the Woodland Park City Council on March 7 for a second reading and public hearing on the permit.
The case seemed simple. City planner Lisa Parnell presented the planning department's recommendation of approval and went through the criteria used to come to that decision.
After her presentation, the case was opened to public comment and that's where it became complicated. Several local business owners complained that changing the building into a one-bedroom unit would have a detrimental effect on their businesses.
Ken and Lynne Tatro, owners of Hot Heads Studio & Spa located on Center Street next to the property in question, said the spa part of their business depended on peace and quiet and that allowing residents with children, dogs and family picnics, would increase noise levels to the point that their business would be devastated.
Crystal and Dan Carlyle, who own a salon located across from the Safayan property, were concerned about safety if children moved in because of the narrowness of the street and Crystal Carlyle said her customers wouldn't want to see swing sets. Her husband said local businesses needed all the parking they can get and that local bars were too close to have a family living there.
“There's no guarantee who would move in,” he said. “Someone could get killed.”
Councilmember Gary Brovetto, who, along with Mayor Pro Tem Eric Smith, ultimately voted against granting the permit, said he was confused.
“Noise, parking and safety; what assurances do you have that a commercial tenant won't cause problems with noise, parking and safety?” he asked.
Other speakers, who owned businesses nearby and rented from the Safayans, said they were good landlords who take good care of their properties, tenants and neighbors.
“To paint Amir as an outsider is a farce; he has more interest in the city than most people,” said Randy Coburn, referring to several comments about the Safayans not being locals.
At the end of the public hearing, council approved the conditional use permit by a vote of four to two. Several audience members walked out of the meeting, expressing their feelings about the decision with foul language.
Council also approved an ordinance updating the city's codes regulating pawnbrokers, adding a definition and regulations for Internet pawnbrokers.
At the end of the meeting, Finance Director Kellie Case presented the city's annual report to the community. The report is available at the city website, www.city-woodlandpark.org, or in printed form at city hall.