City Council unanimously approved ordinances to rezone the Olde Town area and develop new design guidelines during its Feb. 4 regular business meeting.
“It’s updating and refining the existing design guidelines to make it more sensitive to the specific context and to make it more user-friendly and at the same time to adjust the zoning to meet two objectives,” said Nore Winter with the consulting firm Winter and Company. “One is to promote the historic preservation of those areas with historic significance and at the same time to accommodate and facilitate higher intensity development where it’s appropriate.”
The rezoning of Old Town included changing it from a “central business zoning district” to the “Olde Town zoning district,” which was revised to include “eating and drinking establishments” excluding “fast food restaurants with a drive-thru.”
The rezoning also includes seven subdistricts that specifically meet the needs of various parts of Olde Town.
The new guidelines “reflect the city’s goals to promote economic and sustainable development, to enhance the image of the area and reuse historic resources,” the ordinance read. The new standards brought some concern from residents though, specifically regarding the historic preservation of Olde Town. Resident Nancy Young asked council if a historic preservationist evaluated the plans to ensure they do not disturb the area’s rich history.
“Olde Town Arvada is a gem, an absolute gem,” Young said. “Many residents today don’t realize this town was the center of activity in northern Jefferson County from the 1870s to 1970s, and we have a very long history. Even Westminster consults with a historic preservationist, and Westminster has very few properties of the magnitude and nature that Arvada has.”
Historic preservation, though, was the primary consideration when drafting the new zoning areas and design guidelines, Winter said.
“That is the reason the subdistricts are designed as they are,” he said. “Two of those are historic district areas … the policies and guidelines related to historic properties are identified and outlined in the design guidelines. The zoning policies in the historic district areas call for smaller scale buildings.”
In the design guidelines packet, each subdistrict has a vision statement that goes in depth about the district and its qualities.
“I find that a remarkable improvement to where we are today,” said District 1 Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Rachel Zenzinger. “It really helps clarify what we have, what we want to maintain and how we want to maintain it well into the future. I find that very reassuring.”
The new zoning maps and design guidelines can be found at www.arvada.org under the link “Design Guidelines for Olde Town” on the scrolling banner.