With a local builder pledging never to build a project of his own in city limits, community groups may enter a discussion about the city revising its planning and zoning regulations.
At its meeting Thursday, the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board considered writing a letter to city officials about builders' concerns but declined to take formal action.
Instead, Gene Bilodeau, an EDP and Craig Chamber of Commerce board member, as well as a Craig City Councilor, plans to broach the idea at the council's Tuesday meeting of having a public workshop between the groups in the future.
With a rejection from the U.S. Department of Agriculture fresh on their minds, the EDP board prepared to move on to other projects.
Last week, EDP received word that it did not receive a $47,700 grant from the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Program to create and hire staff for a new program to strengthen local businesses.
During its meeting, the board spoke at length about becoming involved in the city's planning and zoning regulations, as well as forming a seminar about the local economy.
The city's planning and zoning process came under scrutiny recently when local builder Lop Behrman, owner of Behrman Construction, opted to relocate a proposed office park at the Country Mall site on Ranney Street and instead build outside city limits.
He said last week he chose to build industrial offices on the south side of First Street, about 100 feet outside city limits, after requirements from the city and Colorado Department of Transportation increased his potential building costs by about $250,000.
"I think it's an issue that needs to be addressed," said Jay Oxley, an EDP board member who also owns TLC Carpet.
Several EDP board members said they had heard others complain about new city codes, approved by the City Council in 2007, but also said they were unsure if there is a problem and what the extent might be.
Board president Scott Cook said he spoke with someone recently who blamed city codes for driving away five large potential developments.
However, Cook added that he knew more about at least four of them and said to his knowledge there were other forces at work that played a bigger role in the developers' decisions to not to build in Craig.
Other local groups also seem to be interested in engaging the city on planning regulations.
Christina Currie, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the Chamber board discussed the same issues at its meeting Aug. 13. However, the group plans to wait until its September meeting before deciding what to do, if anything.
Currie said her biggest concern, personally, was a statement from Jim Meineke, chairman of the Craig Planning and Zoning Commission, that he hadn't heard anything negative about the regulations before Behrman's comments.
"I visit with businesses on a pretty regular basis," Currie said. "I've heard, on a lot of occasions, businesses are limited by the standards, or don't understand them or are confused about the regulations."
EDP members also approved of an idea to bring a qualified economist to Craig who could speak about where the U.S. economy is now and what its future might hold.
The group also hopes to speak to local energy companies, such as the coal mines and power plants, about what they see coming in the future.
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org