Golden’s Planning Commission decided to grant the Colorado School of Mines a special use permit to build a four-level, 650-parking space garage at 13th and Maple streets.
However, Mines must comply with the planning commission’s additional …
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However, Mines must comply with the planning commission’s additional stipulations for granting the permit: A hard cap of a maximum height of 50 feet and a section of 14th Street must be opened up.
Contingent on opening up the section of 14th Street — between Maple and Illinois streets, which is currently closed to vehicular traffic — residents generally favored the parking garage, mentioning it is needed. However, they voiced their concerns on increased traffic impacts expected to come through the neighborhood to access the garage.
John Hausman, a senior traffic engineer with the Muller Engineering Company, presented a traffic analysis to the planning commission on Sept. 6. He focused his study on 11th and Maple streets, and his findings were that currently, 1,200 vehicles use the streets daily. That number is forecasted to increase to 1,900, or by 60 percent, once the garage is built, Hausman said.
But “the numbers tell a very different story than words,” said Tom Atkins, president of the Golden Historic Neighborhoods Association.
Residents already feel fatigued because of the current amount of traffic that not only the school, but also its geology museum and new athletic complex, attracts, he added.
The historic district roughly consists of 11th to 13th streets. Currently, 14th Street dead-ends one block before it would reach the garage, forcing vehicular traffic approaching from the east to take 11th, 12th or 13th streets to get there.
Opening up the section of 14th Street has the potential to cut back the traffic impacts in the historic district by half, Atkins said.
Mines has been looking into building a parking structure to better serve the campus community for quite some time now, said Chris Cocallas, the school’s executive director of planning and design.
The process included determining where the campus could host the garage. Three potential sites were eliminated, and campus planners selected the 13th and Maple streets in part because of the lack of parking in that area of campus, Cocallas said.
Most of the parking garage’s design will meet the City of Golden’s 35-foot height limitations for the zoning district, Cocallas said, aside from a stair structure and solar panels that may extend beyond. Thus, the need for the special use permit.
Special use permits only require a Planning Commission vote.
However, the Planning Commission also had to decide whether the city should vacate a portion of 14th Street, between Maple and Elm.
The request came from Mines. Because that area is city-owned, unless it’s vacated, the parking garage cannot be built, said Gary Bowersock, Mines’ associate vice president of operations, at a previous meeting.
The planning commission passed the motion to vacate, but the vote is a recommendation that will be provided to city council, which will have the final approval.
The 12th Street Historic District is surrounded on all sides, said Fred Setzer, a resident of the neighborhood — Clear Creek to the north, downtown Golden to the east and the Colorado School of Mines campus to the west and south.
“Mines is going to grow,” he said. “We’re not. Our boundaries are set.”
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