Sunny Side project Sketch Plan Review reveals issues

The Larimer County Planning Department has issued a comprehensive report of their findings during a June 5 Sketch Plan Review meeting with Katherine Zybco, applicant for the development of The Barn at Sunny Side, 5129 CR 50c in Bellvue. Jeff Lebesech of Fort Collins owns the property.

Zybco is requesting special exceptions to the current open zoning designation of the 4.71-acre property in order to establish and operate a farm stand, community hall/events center, distillery and coffee/tea shop on the location.

The Sketch Plan Review process does not approve or deny a request, rather it makes comments to help guide the applicant in addressing areas of concern and in preparing for the public hearing phase. Such a meeting must occur before the special request application can be presented to the board of county commissioners who approve or deny the request.

The issues the sketch review found to be most significant were:

Sewage disposal needs
Water system improvements
Compliance with fire protection standards
Road improvement requirements
Specific detail regarding the number of events proposed and more information on the types of events and where they will occur on the property
Provision of adequate on-site parking
Demonstration of compliance with the Special Review and Special Exception criteria
Numerous concerns from surrounding property owners.

Specific details concerning these issues can be found at

In order to be approved, a special exception to existing zoning requirements must be compatible with existing uses in the area and in harmony with the neighborhood. The property in question is currently zoned “open.” The applicant must be able to speak to local concerns, first at a neighborhood meeting designed for the applicant to gain further feedback and finally in a public hearing.

Nearly 100 letters from area residents attached to the sketch review report are unanimous in their objection to the granting of Zybco’s request in its present form. Many residents in the Bellvue community have been there for a long time and some are second and third generation landholders. They are universally aware of uniqueness and rural nature of the place and want very badly to keep it that way.

They also have practical concerns regarding increased traffic, noise and light pollution, possible trespassing and wildlife, wetlands and parking issues. When the Bellvue Bean coffee shop was operating, residents in the area experienced parking, trespassing and noise problems, making them sensitive to the Sunny Side proposal.

“The community of Bellvue and the site specific to the proposal play a unique role in the broader Fort Collins community. The area provides a welcome respite from the rapid growth and commercialization of the surrounding area,” wrote Lynn Birdsong. “Bellvue is first and foremost rural — making it unique, beautiful, tranquil and safe, particularly to the bike riders and joggers who frequent the area. I would be surprised if there is a more frequently traveled route for those who love these activities than Bingham Hill Road and CR23.”

The BeDan family — Stephanie, Arron, Tatum, Tyler and Samantha — had this to say: “People live in Bellvue to be removed from the hustle of the city, to live in an environment where in an given moment you can hear the water raging down the Poudre River or a sweet chirp from a hummingbird. I feel with the addition of the Barn at Sunny Side Farms there would be nothing but cars parked every which way…the BASS is not in the best interest of Bellvue, its wildlife and their peaceful environment…

Mary and Craig Brodahl said “…inserting a cluster of busy retail businesses into this setting is a jarring notion for our sense of this neighborhood…”

Brigitte Dempsey wrote: “…it can be expected that the clientele this type of venue would attract would be noisy and not mindfu; of the needs of a quiet residential community. Unlike the Bellvue Bean which attracted mostly bicycle enthusiasts, a distillery will have appeal for reckless motorcycle riders who want to “drink and drive.” I know that not all motorcycle drivers belong in that category — my husband rides one– but those who are attracted to alcohol are a danger. Our quiet corner of Bellvue is not the place where such a public should be solicited.”

The Bellvue residents in opposition to the Barn at Sunny Side await either a modified proposal from Zybco or notification that the special exception request has been dropped.

In her plan submitted to Larimer County, Zybco indicated her desire to maintain the agricultural nature of the property and to be a good neighbor while finding a compatible way to make a living on the land.

After receiving feedback from the sketch review report, Zybco said that right now they are brainstorming, trying to figure out what they can do on their land that will be compatible with the area in the eyes of the majority of Bellvue residents.

“The improvements we would need to make to go ahead with our plan would be too expensive and would not meet with the approval of our neighbors,” Zybco said. “There will be no events center. We hope to find a way to make our land productive in a way that is compatible with the neighborhood. The Bellvue community does not want other people coming to our property. Perhaps we can grow some produce and deliver it elsewhere to be sold.” She also mentioned that a farm stand and greenhouse would only require building permits and might be possible. “The problem with a farm stand is that everything that’s for sale must be grown on the property,” she said. “The greenhouse would be for our use only.”

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