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Horizontal zoning isn't a realtor witch-hunt



CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — In an effort to preserve its struggling tourism base, Crested Butte has adopted zoning that tightly limits uses in its central shopping district. New service-type business such as barber shops and dance studios will not be allowed on the ground floors along Elk Avenue, the town’s main street. Also banned will be new real estate offices.

Crested Butte is the third Colorado resort town to adopt exclusions, called horizontal zoning. Vail was first to take aim at ground-floor real estate offices, in 1973, followed by Aspen a year or two ago.

The move was driven by the town’s need to get taxes from sales of goods. The sales tax in Colorado is the primary vehicle for local governments to provide services such as bus shuttles, bike paths, and snow plowing.

Crested Butte Mayor Alan Bernholtz insisted that the new zoning is not a "Realtor witch-hunt," reports the Crested Butte News.

"We’re not saying you can’t be a Realtor in this town," he said. "Just remember, you can go to the second floor of a building and still sell real estate. It’s a necessity we need and use. We’re just trying to put them in the right spot."

Sean Hartigan, owner of The Last Steep, said customers have become increasingly vocal in their observations.

"People come in and say, "What in the hell is going on in this town?’" said Hartigan. They often refer to the influx of real estate offices.

"We used to be a drinking town with a skiing problem. Now it’s seems to be a real estate town with a drinking or skiing problem."

Linda Powers, a shop owner and former mayor, said that in losing its shopping opportunities, Crested Butte is losing its character. "We’re losing our heart and soul."

But there was dissent, too. The Crested Butte News explains one thought is that the market itself will sort out the best uses of the property.

"The reason retailers aren’t moving in is because they can’t support themselves," said Judy McGill, one property owner on Elk Avenue. "There is a certain thing called market conditions. Right now real estate is the business of town. That will change. It will flatten out. Offices will close."

Vail Resorts on the move

AVON, Colo. — When Vail Associates, the developer of Vail and also the Vail ski area, expanded in the 1990s and became Vail Resorts, it left Vail behind and moved down-valley to Avon. That move ruffled a few local feathers. But that was small in comparison to the move made this summer.