Last fall, the Castle Valley Town Council put a moratorium on applications for auto repair businesses in Castle Valley until the PLUC could consider the pros and cons, see what other cities are doing and weigh what the residents have to say. PLUC chairwoman Mary Beth Fitzburgh said the commission will look at the impacts and make a recommendation to the town council, which will make the final decision. The council can either accept their recommendation, accept it with changes or can disregard the PLUC recommendation altogether.
The public discussion was regarding amendments prohibiting motor vehicle, trailer or boat repair shops; auto body and/or fender repair shops; the manufacturing, assembly or repair of heavy equipment, major appliances, engines or motors; junk yards; and mortuaries or crematoriums. All of these occupations have the potential of creating contamination in the valley, using similar chemicals, if no controls are in place.
The discussion was to be general in nature, but many people specifically addressed a situation involving Dave Rhoads, who currently holds a conditional use permit for a mobile auto repair business where repairs are done on the premises of the clients. The town received complaints from one of Rhoads’ neighbors regarding noise from an air compressor from his home, which sparked the controversy. Rhoads wants to build a shop on his property and apply for a conditional use permit for a home and premises occupation for an auto repair business.
The town’s ordinance states that the town “recognizes the need or desire for some citizens to use their place of residence for limited nonresidential activities. However, the town believes that the need to protect the integrity of its residential area is of paramount concern.”
Rhoads counters that he is willing to work with reasonable demands and will be sensitive to neighbors’ concerns. He said that he and his son “want to build a modest, nice, low-impact, sound-insultated, fire-resistant shop, with all work done indoors. We would have special exhaust systems, plus double-walled spill-proof storage of all liquids, floor drains with oil skimmers to eliminate water pollution and prevent spills.” Rhoads said he responded to the noise complaint by immediately insulating the noise. He told the neighbors during the meeting that he is not here to ruin Castle Valley and wants to keep the valley pristine and keep his business small and efficient.
During the public discussion, Skip Ambrose said he supported the town in restricting the conditional use permit of that type. He said many people moved to Castle Valley for the rural atmosphere and not commercial industrial businesses. He said that the issue is not about Rhoads but about future issues with similar businesses. John Lucas said he used Rhoads’ services for all of his vehicles, including a trailer he would have had to take to Grand Junction to have fixed. Daryl Meyer said he was not opposed to an auto shop business but is also in favor of a rural atmosphere.
Jane May supported the amendment but asked to strike the prohibition of an auto repair business. “Isn’t this community more than just artists and writers?” she asked.
Ron Daily thought a bond should be required based on the risk level of the business. He added that that he is concerned about environmental contamination and the town will have to pay for the cleanup. Randy Jorgen, speaking against the amendment, said he likes to see Castle Valley people do a lot of diversified business. Jorgen added that it puts the burden of proof on the town to prove those businesses cannot be run safely.
Ed Derderian spoke in favor of the amendment by saying that a lot has been spoken about “mitigating” the dangers of contamination. “Mitigate means to lessen the impact on something. I would like to see someone mitigate contaminated water,” he said.
Castle Valley Mayor Dave Erley warned everyone that if the amendment is passed to allow auto repair businesses, any resident could have an auto repair business next to his or her home. “Dave is a good guy but the next guy might not be a good guy,” Erley said.
Others spoke both for and against the amendment during the hour-long discussion before the meeting moved on to the other agenda items. In the end, roughly 12 people spoke against the amendment prohibiting the various restricted businesses, including auto repair businesses, and five spoke in favor. Several people voiced mixed emotions on the issue.
Fitzburgh said she has received letters, which are available for public inspection at the Town Hall, with roughly the opposite numbers expressing their opinions on the issue. A formal public hearing will be held on the subject during the March 6 meeting of the PLUC.
The PLUC voted in favor of the other changes to Ordinance 85-3 regarding enforcement, penalties and fines, and will recommend those changes to the town council.
Thirty-five years ago this week, Jo Anna Dalton reported that she measured 9.5 inches of snow on her roof. The snow fell during a storm that week. She added that residents were delighted with the arrival of the fire truck, which meant the formation of the Castle Valley Fire Department.