Trustees pass big-box moratorium

Tuthill opposes ban, saying store could bring business and jobs into town

Town trustees passed an emergency ordinance to extend a ban on large retail stores until June during the board meeting Feb. 12. But one board member stood in stark opposition to the ban on commercial buildings more than 5,000 square feet.

"I think it would be a benefit to bring the businesses into town and bring the jobs," Trustee Chip Tuthill said.

The other five trustees who voted in favor of the ban said they felt more time was needed to revise town code.

"We've heard the town people and I think that they want us to look at this and to do it and do it right," said Trustee Queenie Barz.

Family Dollar's interest in building a location in Mancos has sparked opposition in town. In January, developers presented to a packed town hall, and several residents spoke passionately against the new store.

The board members also passed an emergency measure. Tuthill voted against it, casting initial doubt on whether there was a clear three-quarters majority to pass it. If the emergency measure had not passed, it would have left a three-day window when a business could have potentially submited an application to build. Liberman researched the issue after the meeting and determined that five votes was clear three quarters majority, even though the code was not clear.

Liberman searched through town code during the meeting to determine if the mayor should be counted as a member of the board. Traditionally, the Mancos mayor does not vote, and Mayor Rachael Simbeck did not vote on this issue. But the town code seemed unclear on whether the mayor should be included in the votes of an emergency ordinance.

Tuthill said he was motivated to change his vote because the Family Dollar could move to the edge of town where the town code would not apply and because there has been too much delay in rewriting town codes.

Tuthill also said many people who attended January's meeting did not live in town.

"What we have is the tail wagging the dog," he said.

During the meeting he tried to amend the ordinance to ban commercial buildings larger than 10,000 square feet but he couldn't gather support.

Resident Maureen Brosnan attended the contentious meeting and didn't voice her support of the store in that forum. But she said a discount store would help those who are hurting in town.

"A dollar store would be a huge benefit to those who don't have a lot of money," she said.

Other town trustees felt extending the ordinance would give them time to revise town codes.

"We're talking about the long-term health of the town," Trustee Todd Kearns said.