By on April 17, 2013


Making amends: model behavior

Computer-aided design is terrifically useful. But all the CAD/CAGD and 3D renderings in the world won’t help a planner get his or her mind wrapped around height, mass, and scale. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for Lincoln Logs (National Toy Hall of Fame 1999).

Councilman Jim Stanford basically said so much when the esteemed panel was tossing around the merits of P13-018 last Monday night. At the suggestion of staff, town officials were considering amending the Design Guidelines to make it a requirement that developers provide physical one-sixteenth scale models rather than three-dimensional cyber drawings for buildings larger than 5,000 square feet.

“I appreciate computer technology and the adaptability it offers and all that but I do see some value in having these projects represented by [something physical] to show scale. It might have been helpful in the application we just approved to see what that looks like in relation to its surroundings,” Stanford said referring to the Council’s go-ahead to Jay Varley’s probable Marriott-to-be next to Center for the Arts.

Stanford referenced the council’s second floor office space where a set of old school building blocks sat high on a shelf. Planning Director Tyler Sinclair said he kept the relics around because even in today’s technology-marveled world some Design and Review committee members preferred to see how a proposed building ‘stacked up’ in the ambient environment of a desktop neighborhood.

Don Frank said he wasn’t persuaded, worried that the models would put applicants through yet another added expense and were a “step backward.”

Why are we considering this, Mayor Mark Barron wanted to know?

Senior planner Shawn Hill said folks on the D&R committee sometimes had trouble imagining a finished building with just the computer models and half of them were in the business. “Committees have to piece together selective segments of various 3D renderings. We have two architects and a designer on the Design and Review committee and it is still sometimes difficult for them to ascertain massing in particular,” Hill said. “You are basically at the mercy of the applicant who will show you only what they want to show you.”

Making amends: behavior modification

The second of two proposed amendments on the docket for Monday’s meeting would also give the Gestapo staff more iron-fisted control over building in town. Hill also pitched a change to the LDRs pertaining to Residential Standards, asking Council to let the town boss around builders of multi-family units just in case their own HOAs didn’t bust their humps enough.

Hill explained the new regulation would apply to multi-family residential developments like Daisy Bush, a 27-unit project that went through voluntary design review. Stanford asked for an example of a multi-family development that the town staff wishes they could have had their fingers in. Hill offered the Aspen Stand townhomes on the corner of Hall and Redmond as a place that could have looked better if the town got to micromanage the design. “The way the buildings relate to the street and composition from a design perspective could be deemed to be a little out of rhythm,” he said.

We can't have this again, can we?

810 West. We can’t have this again, can we?

Barron finally interjected: “I can’t think of a single complaint we’ve had in town about the look of residential units outside of 810 West. We are in danger of becoming gentrified by the architects in Jackson Hole. For a project as [small] as five units do you really want to be adding another layer of bureaucratic review when it is already an expensive place to build? I hope not?”

Stanford agreed saying fiddling with the design and materials of smaller projects could add a month to an already long process.

From somewhere beneath his puffy down coat worn indoors in the stifling, oxygen-deprived chambers, Frank also jumped aboard the bandwagon.

“In my experience working with many clients is any process in which a temporary body is charged with making recommendations – the level of subjectivity is maddening,” Frank said. “Every designer will have his own opinion and will want your building to be their building. I really don’t support this.”

Before the Council could shoot it down, Town Administrator Bob McLaurin ran interference.

“I think I can count to three,” McLaurin said, referring to the pre-vote rhetoric. “With all due respect to Mr. Hill, you may consider tabling this until Tyler [Sinclair] is back in town. Unless you hate it so much you want to vote it down right now.”

The Council agreed to table both proposed LDR amendments until Sinclair returns and explains to the electeds exactly what he was thinking when he drew them up.

In other business

Smith’s, feeling the pressure to keep pace with Whole Grocer and Albies, sought and received approval to add an al fresco dining area just outside their main entrance. Councilors began with the obvious questions like: Where are you going to put it with all the BBQ grills, wading pools, pallets of snowmelt, firewood, propane canisters, patio sets and other seasonal display-cum-storage wars crap that’s already clogging the entranceway?

Before long the conversation had drifted into employee housing mitigation (for five outdoor tables in 750 square feet?), a canopy that may or may not be above the tables, and where the liquor store might be expanding to. I woke up when they moved to allow Smiths their outdoor seating. God knows where they’re going to put them.

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