Baseball now part of Gypsum zoning code |

Baseball now part of Gypsum zoning code

Kathy Heicher

The ordinance came after property owners Tom and Chris LaVenture, who own a home adjacent to the town’s athletic complex, sent a letter through their attorney arguing that the existing town code did not permit a baseball field in any zoning district. The LaVentures are particularly concerned about how a town proposal to place lights on the ballfield will impact their home.

Following a 45-minute executive session, the Town Council unanimously approved the addition of language in the code that adds not only baseball fields and other field sports, but also ice skating, horseshoe pits and batting cages to the list of permitted uses for playgrounds. The town also added language specifying that outdoor theaters, band shells, outdoor concerts, circus productions and rodeos are permitted uses in non-residential zone districts. Those changes reflect activities that the town anticipates hosting on its property adjacent to the Town Hall.

The LaVentures bought their property shortly before the town acquired an adjacent parcel and began development of an athletic field complex.

Lawyer, Noelle Riccardella, representing the LaVentures, sent a letter to the town last month pointing out that field sports, including softball, baseball, football and soccer, were not specifically listed in the definition of “playground” in the town zoning regulations. Riccardella argued that the absence of baseball and softball from the list of permitted uses reflected a deliberate intent for those activities to not be permitted.

“That’s ludicrous,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll, who authored the land use code. “We knew the intent.”

Rather than arguing the point, Shroll said, the council decided to amend the language of the code. He stressed that the emergency ordinance was not a zone change, but rather an amendment to the language of the code.

The change will go into effect immediately for 60 days, although the changes will not become permanent until after a second reading and public hearing on the changes, slated for Jan. 28.

“Their attorney brought (the language in the code) to light. We corrected what she asked us to correct,” said Shroll.

The town, in cooperation with the Western Eagle County Metro Recreation District, has spent about $50,000 on developing the field to date; and the lights are expected to cost between $75,000 and $100,000.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

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