Lop Behrman, owner of Behrman Construction, stands in the middle of his new industrial office development off First Street, outside Craig city limits. He originally intended to build commercial offices where the Country Mall once stood inside Craig but said he moved the project because requirements from the city and Colorado Department of Transportation were too expensive.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Lop Behrman, owner of Behrman Construction, stands in the middle of his new industrial office development off First Street, outside Craig city limits. He originally intended to build commercial offices where the Country Mall once stood inside Craig but said he moved the project because requirements from the city and Colorado Department of Transportation were too expensive.

Local contractor takes development outside city, vows not to return

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Lane Behrman, left, and Jesse Haskins, right, work on a wall Tuesday at the Behrman Construction site on First Avenue. Lop Behrman, who is developing the site, said he began initial site work about a month ago, and that it was easier to build in the county rather than inside city limits.

Just outside Craig city limits, a 15,000-square-feet industrial office park is going up.

Lop Behrman, owner of Behrman Construction and a local builder for the past 40 years, chose the location on First Street east of Ranney for a reason.

It's not in Craig.

"They've (the city) changed all of their building requirements," Behrman said. "All of that stuff. They're pricing everybody out of town."

Jim Meineke, chairman of the Craig Planning and Zoning Commission, said he had not heard anyone say the city's new land use code is too onerous for builders.

The City Council approved the new code, which governs planning, zoning and building requirements, in February 2007.

Behrman originally planned to build a new commercial office building at the old Country Mall site at Ranney and Fourth streets.

He co-owned the mall when it burned down Nov. 25, 2007, in one of the largest fires in Moffat County history, and was told by his insurance company he would have to rebuild to receive payment.

But building inside the city became impossible, Behrman said.

"It was just too much money," he said.

Between the city's landscaping, parking, sidewalk, curb and gutter requirements - as well as Colorado Department of Transportation access constraints - Behrman said bringing the Country Mall site into local and state compliance would cost about $250,000.

When he approached the Planning and Zoning Commission about his problem and asked the board to change its requirements, the group stood by the city's approved land use code.

"I told them what I could do and what I couldn't do, and they didn't change anything," Behrman said. "They said I could resubmit new plans and they'd take it from there. I don't have time for that."

Behrman gave two reasons for building soon: the summer construction season is slipping away, and the Country Mall's insurer gave a three-year timeline to rebuild or it would hold money back.

Thankfully, Behrman said, he received permission from the insurer to move the project elsewhere and still receive payment.

Meineke said Behrman's statements about the city land use code are the first negative comments he's heard.

Most of the feedback, he said, has been positive.

"It sounds like special interest people are getting involved," Meineke said, referring to those in the construction industry. "The reason we have the regulations right now is because of the requests of other community members. I'm getting positive comments from most people."

Jarrod Ogden, an alternate for Planning and Zoning who also owns Three Sons Construction, said he has some reservations about the code but by and large thinks it is appropriate.

For instance, the code restricts the size of detached garages for residences.

"Craig is a unique community, and lots of folks have a lot of toys," Ogden said. "I think there are some things that are probably a little restrictive, like that, and we could probably revisit them."

He noted the code is, for better or worse, largely based on what regulations other communities have installed.

"I respect that opinion, but I think sometimes we don't keep in mind we're not a little Steamboat," Ogden said. "We are Craig."

It's unfortunate Behrman moved his project outside the city, Ogden added, because his development could have netted tax revenue for Craig.

Dave Costa, Craig community development director, said he would not comment on Behrman's project because what happens to it is the developer's choice. But he said he thinks the new code already has helped improve the community.

"If you look at the commercial properties that have been developed in the last two years - I'll start with the two Kum & Gos, the new Yampa Valley Bank, the Camilletti building downtown (Mountain West Insurance & Financial Services) - that's quality stuff," Costa said.

As it pertained to one of Behrman's specific issues - that he build square-back curbs along the property, which has limited curbs now - Costa said that has a specific and important purpose.

"We need that for drainage," he said. "We're trying to fix some of the problems that were created a while ago when things weren't built as well as they should have been. We can't have water washing down Ranney Street, potentially flooding someone else."

Despite city officials' reasoning, Behrman said he will never build another development of his own inside Craig.

"Not for myself," he said. "I'll build any project anyone else needs wherever they want to build it. But I just don't have the patience to go through all that stuff, and it's so expensive."

Ogden and Meineke invited any residents who have an opinion on the city land use code to attend Planning and Zoning meetings, which take place at 6 p.m. the third Monday of each month at Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.

There will be no meeting this month because there were no projects on the agenda.

Comments

als362 4 years, 11 months ago

I tend to agree with Mr. Behrman. I have seen the city go absolutely permit crazy. Permits for installing a water heater, to build a dog house. This is crazy! When the city makes these businesses do all the landscaping, and beautication that they have made some businesses do lately. It just drives the price of goods and services, higher, and some people can't afford these things, so they don't build or open a business like they would if it cost less. Or they just build without a permit. Now the city just fixed it so they don't get the taxes they could have gotten from Mr. Behrman's business.

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DAILYREADER 4 years, 11 months ago

STRANGE GROUP THE CRAIG PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION. MR. MEINEKE HAS NOT HEARD ANY NEGATIVE COMMENTS. MAYBE HE JUST HEARS WHAT HE WANTS TO HEAR. IF HE IS SO DETERMINED TO KEEP CRAIG BEAUTIFUL, MAYBE HE SHOULD DO SOMETHING WITH THE EYESORE ON VICTORY AND RANNEY. AND JARROD OGDEN SEEMS TO BE ENTIRELY UNSURE OF WHAT TYPE OF COMMUNITY CRAIG IS. IN ONE PARAGRAPH HE STATES CRAIG IS A UNIQUE COMMUNITY, AND IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH HE STATES THE CODE IS BASED ON WHAT OTHER COMMUNITIES DO. THEN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH HE STATES WE ARE NOT A LITTLE STEAMBOAT. NO WONDER BUSINESSES DON'T COME TO CRAIG AND WHY CRAIG BUSINESSES DON'T UPGRADE. A BIG HAND TO LOP BEHRMAN FOR SPEAKING OUT.

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xrsareus 4 years, 11 months ago

A beautiful building would have been built at 4th and Ranney from what I have seen of the work Mr. Behrman does. (The Mountain West building mentioned in the article). Now that corner might be just another empty lot. Maybe Jim Meineke has a deaf ear to contractors concerns since it sounds like from the article he runs the show. Maybe ???? The Daily Press could or should ask other contractors their true feelings about the ordinances on building requirements and see if it is just Mr. Behrman that has the problem. The new Kum and Go's are nice but, someone had their head in the wrong place when they designed the two islands in the middle of the driveways into the stores from Victory and also from Yampa at the North store. I also think, and this has been discussed before, the ordinance about the size of garage you can build is to small, should be allowed to build one at least a 1,000 sq. ft.

Of coarse someone else is paying for the building with most contractors, Mr. Behrman is the one footing the bill on this one. Sounds like at least one contractor on the board "has some reservations".

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slipknot 4 years, 11 months ago

A good course of action would be a small, strictly local survey of contractors and those residents who are contemplating or who have recently started and/or completed construction projects in Craig vs Moffat Cty. My input would be unfair because I absolutly detest the government in Moffat County and believe that the average citizen in Craig will never get a fair shake, regardless of the situation. Therefore I packed up my family and left that pit.

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