Silverthorne: Little chance Home Depot will be stopped
SILVERTHORNE, Colorado ” Despite a continuous stream of opponents protesting the need for a Home Depot store in Silverthorne, Colorado, plans for the big-box development will likely move forward as long as it jibes with town code.
Almost five years ago, Frisco residents voted down a plan for Home Depot to build a big-box store behind Wal-Mart along I-70. The home-improvement chain has since shifted its attention to Silverthorne, where representatives have planned to build since 2007.
While the Frisco site was town-owned and its use subject to a vote, the Silverthorne location is on private land that for decades has been zoned for commercial use.
So, while residents and businesses have protested the big-box coming to town at council meetings, there’s not much chance the project will be stopped ” unless Silverthorne’s town council denies the final plan itself or Home Depot changes its mind.
“We are reacting to a proposal that’s being brought to us,” said Mark Leidal, Silverthorne’s community development manager. “Home Depot selected that piece of property. It’s not like we went and sought it out.”
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But Home Depot must still play by town rules.
The home-improvement retailer recently received a building concept approval with conditions from the town. For a second round of approvals, engineering concepts must fit with Silverthorne’s codes and a revised comprehensive plan.
“We’ve been working with staff to address all issues with the site plan from colors, to design, to landscape, to parking,” said Mike Ciletti, a Home Depot spokesperson.
In Frisco, local opposition surfaced when Home Depot attempted to develop the town’s 9.4-acre parcel along Interstate 70 in 2005.
In December of that year, Frisco citizens voted against the town entering into negotiations with the big-box retailer. Opponents of the project in Frisco said the chain would turn Summit County into a Denver suburb and put small, local retailers out of business.
Similar arguments against Home Depot are being heard in Silverthorne, where the retailer proposes to build a 100,000 square-foot store south of Interstate 70, near the outlet stores close to the base of the Dillon Dam.
“We will provide competition and choice,” Ciletti said. Other home-improvement businesses in the county are “competing with us today whether they realize it or not. There are cases all across the country where big and small businesses co-exist.”
Public vs. private land
Rob Waterman, a local attorney, said a town can zone a piece of land in advance, but land cannot be rezoned to block a development after the fact.
“It’s private property rights,” Waterman said. “If it otherwise complies with zoning and planning and any other regulation, you can’t prohibit it.”
But, a town council can reject a building proposal if it doesn’t agree with overall town planning.
“It has to fit into the community,” Waterman said.
So, from a zoning perspective, people wanting to vote for or against a proposed Home Depot are out of luck.
“The use issue is not up for discussion,” Leidal said.
Silverthorne will not officially survey its residents on whether a Home Depot is desired for the town. However, people may attend public meetings to voice their concerns.
“Our opinion is that we have use by right and it does allow for citizen input,” Ciletti said. “If the town didn’t want this to be commercial land, they could have changed the designation in their comprehensive plan. I would encourage residents to come to future hearings as this project moves forward and say their piece as part of the public process.”
According to Ryan Hyland, assistant to Silverthorne’s town manager, the town’s most recent survey ” the 2007 Community Survey” did contain questions that were indirectly related to economic development. Hyland indicated that survey takers expressed a strong interest in adding sales-taxable businesses as a part of the town’s financial strategy.
“But again, this is a generic question not related to a specific business or industry,” Hyland said.
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at email@example.com.