Denver supports current zoning

By on April 11, 2018

Denver Council weighed in as opposed to a special exception application for 352 Main St., Denver, at their April 9 meeting. The building is located in the downtown business district. Dale and Kim Latshaw, Ephrata residents, are interested in purchasing the property contingent upon the approval to convert the first and second floors into residential dwellings.
The first floor of the building was formerly Harding-Yost Insurance Agency. The building is owned by Gerald and Madeline Harding, of Reinholds.
Kim Latshaw explained the proposed plan in which she and her husband, Dale, would convert the first floor of the building into one 2-bedroom and one 1-bedroom apartment. The second floor would have two 2-bedroom apartments.
Entrance to the first floor apartment facing Main St. would use the current main entrance. The first floor apartment at the back of the house would have a rear entrance. Stairs located outside at the back of the house would access the second floor.
The first floor has approximately 1400 square feet. Apartment sizes would range from 620 square feet to 735 square feet. Latshaw described the proposed apartments as upscale.
Currently, there is office space in the basement, which would remain.
In addition to a variance regarding square footage, the Latshaws need a variance regarding the number of parking spaces.
The Latshaws viewed the parking space requirement with consideration of the next two dwellings, those being 354 and 356 Main St. Each of the three properties have separate deeds. If the Latshaws purchase 352 Main St., they would own all three properties. They had a plan to reduce parking capacity for the two adjacent properties that wouldn’t affect the parking requirements.
This aspect of the variance was not discussed in detail since other parts of the overall proposed plan garnered many questions.
The pros and cons of the proposal were discussed at length. Several council members spoke as well as Harding, and realtor, Larry Rabold. They felt quality apartments were preferable to an empty storefront.
Neighbor, Dave Johnson, asked council to back the work of the planning commission and zoning ordinances and not recommend approving the variance.
Council said the planning commission worked hard to create a downtown business district. Although there are other vacancies in the business district, rezoning to permit a building of apartments means there’s never an opportunity for a business to come into the property.
“Denver has a lot of apartment buildings already,” said councilman Matt Stover. “There’s been research that after a certain number of apartments, the quality of life goes down.”
“If we take away this space for a business, located in our downtown business district, we set a precedent and open the door for other requests,” said councilman Jason South.
Councilmen John Palm and Chris Flory also expressed concern over the proposal.
The vote was 6-1 to strongly oppose granting the variances.
Councilman Dan Rogers, who dissented, said after the meeting that he agrees with council regarding having a business district and thought council could continue to dialogue and possibly revise the plan.
In other business, council:
• Appointed Michael Cohick as an alternate member to the Denver Zoning Hearing Board.
• Accepted with regret the resignation of Barbara A. Artz as Deputy Real Estate Tax Collector.
• Appointed Michael Hession, who is also borough manager, as Deputy Real Estate Tax Collector.
• Heard an update regarding the banner project to honor veterans from Palm. More information will follow in the borough newsletter and other media.
• Approved using Servepro to remove trash and debris from the deteriorating property at 836 Oak St. Council will then determine what the next steps will be.

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