Planning Commission Recommends Approval for Restaurant
February 28, 2016
There are two main places to shop and eat in Niwot, but if you’re not familiar with the town you might just miss one of them. Property owners Anne and Jim Postle have a solution to connect these areas, Cottonwood Square and Old Town, which is the Link Building on the corner of Niwot Road and 79th Street.
On Wednesday, Feb. 17, the Boulder County Planning Commission held a public hearing to hear from the staff, property owners and the public about the proposal, and to make a recommendation to the county commissioners. Both Anne and Jim Postle were present, along with many friends and Niwot business owners who showed their support.
Anne explained how they are currently remodeling the second floor of the building to “[turn] a dated building into a class A building and an asset to Niwot.”
She explained that connecting Cottonwood Square and Second Avenue is important to the community, and she believes the building will be a great way to link them together.
“Connectivity between Second Avenue and Cottonwood Square has long been a goal of the Local Improvement District [LID], and of the Niwot Revitalization Committee and the County Commissioners,” Anne said. “This building sits in the prime location to either block or open up this connection. As it currently stands, this building is more of a barrier than a link. Our design with the restaurant use on the main level, allows this connection to occur.”
Her plan is to create an outdoor dining patio underneath the Cottonwood trees on the west side as a visual connection. It will also be bicycle and pedestrian friendly with added sidewalks, bike parking and a bike repair center.
She said the restaurant owners who are interesting in moving into the Link Building have been in Niwot for over 10 years, and they’re looking for a way to expand their business and provide more services for customers.
Julie Ankenbrandt, who is the economic development director and Niwot Business Association (NBA) marketing director, expressed her support for the project.
“I’m here to provide support for the 144 members of the NBA who all concur that this really [will be] a tremendous benefit for the community of Niwot,” she said. “Taking this old building that was this big, dark behemoth and really bringing life and vitality to a corner that has been quiet for so long… We’re so excited that it’s Anne doing [this project] because she’s nothing but a community builder in town.”
Tim Wise, owner of Wise Buys Antiques in Niwot, said, “The idea of them having the building that they are calling the Link Building become upgraded, is a great boon for the businesses in Niwot,” he said. “As its name suggests, it will be the link from the Cottonwood shopping center to the Second Avenue shopping district. We’re very happy and very supportive of Anne and Jim to have this occur.”
“We feel that all of the conditions listed by planning staff are reasonable, with the exception of the requirement for the electric vehicle charging station…,” Anne explained. “For the comp plan, Niwot businesses are supposed to support the local residents, and not be great economic drivers that bring cars and visitors from outside of Niwot.”
She went on to say it would make more sense for owners of electric vehicles to charge their cars at home, when electricity is less expensive. A typical sedan takes six to eight hours to charge from a 220 volt outlet, and she doesn’t know why this requirement is being imposed on her building.
“This is not a requirement that has ever been imposed on any other business in unincorporated Boulder County, and more community feedback in necessary to determine the right location and appropriate funding mechanism,” she said.
Staff planner Michelle Hoshide, under questioning from the Planning Commission, acknowledged that a charging station had never before been listed as a condition of approval for any other land use application in the county, and acknowledged that it is only a requirement in the land use code that buildings adding more than 50% of existing floor area, or 5,000 square feet add such a feature. The Link building does not include any addition to the existing building.
While Bruce Warren, of Warren, Carlson and Moore LLP, also spoke about his support as an adjacent property owner to the Link Building, he added, “The one thing I would say is that the car charging station, to impose that on one particular building doesn’t make sense to me,” Warren said. “It seems like if it’s going to be done in Niwot, it [should] be a LID function.”
The Planning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend the proposal for approval with conditions: Postle must either put in an electric charging station, put in wiring for a future station, or convince the LID to finance a community charging station at a to-be-determined location. The proposal will next go to the County Commissioners for their review in March.
“Niwot is a very special place,” Postle said. “The residents and local businesses also support each other. My husband and I both live and work in Niwot, the owners of the businesses that are moving both into the office and hopefully the restaurant both live and work in Niwot… All of us care deeply about creating a place that will be an asset to the Niwot community for years to come.”