Planning commission approves variance for Summit Technology

By Rudy Hemmann
The Surveyor

The planning commission held a brief meeting Thursday, April 9, and approved a setback variance request for Summit Technology, Inc., located at 295 Bunyan Ave. Byron Johnson, the property owner and president of Summit Technology, requested the variance to accommodate the expansion of the office space of his business, according to a staff report prepared by planning staff.

The report states the property is zoned M2, Industrial District. The document goes on to reveal at the time the building was constructed, in the late 1970s, the setback for it conformed to the code in effect at the time, 50 feet from the center line of the street.

However, revisions to the development code in 2012 included changes to the setback language which required the front setback for a property to be measured from the property line, as opposed to from the center line of the street.

“This change had the unintended effect of creating multiple nonconforming structures in the M2 zone,” the report states. “To exacerbate the issue for this property, as well as other properties along the south side of Bunyan Avenue between Second Street and Third Street, there is an additional right-of-way parcel along the south side of Bunyan Avenue that is approximately 18 feet in depth.”

As a result, owners of buildings which conformed to the setback provisions of the previous code (50 feet from the street center line), suddenly found their properties to be nonconforming under the new standards.

“Due to growth of the business the applicant is proposing to expand the existing 360-square-foot office addition of the building to the north by 10 feet and to the west by 5 feet; an increase of 410 square feet,” the report states.

The document went on to indicate the exterior would be treated the same as the existing building with wood siding. The distance from the expansion to the property line will be 10 feet (28 feet from the Bunyan Street right-of-way) and approximately 50 feet from the Bunyan Street center line.

Staff analysis of the request found no issues other than the problem with the setback. A brief summary of the request states the property is found to be “located within a well-established industrial district, where a majority of the buildings have been established through historic development standards” and further that the impact of the “proposed 410 square foot addition to the front of the Summit Technology building is minimal and will not negatively affect the neighborhood.”

Commission discussion was limited to brief questions and comments centered on the new setback guidelines of the current code. Sherry Albertson-Clark, Berthoud’s planning director stated that planning staff was looking at revising the setback requirements of the development code.

A motion granting the setback variance for Summit Technology, Inc. was made, seconded and approved by a vote of 4 to 1, with commissioner Tim Hardy casting the lone “no” vote.

“I just felt that if we allowed him (Johnson) to push the envelope that other businesses on Bunyan would try to push it further,” said Hardy, “We have a code that set a limit and we should stick with it.”