The new owner of Paonia Cleaners is claiming that two stop work orders almost two months ago by the Town of Paonia's building official have needlessly halted her efforts to remodel the building and should never have been issued.
During the "visitors" portion of the June 20 board meeting, Gia Fanelli asked for cooperation from the town in removing the orders so that she can resume work.
Fanelli purchased Paonia Cleaners, a roughly 4,700-square-foot commercial property located at 604 Second Street last September. In August, just prior to the closing, Paonia trustees approved a rezoning request from former owner Ron Rowell for the three-unit building from "I-1 Light Industrial" to "C-2 Community Commercial." The amended zoning also allows for a "dwelling use secondary to the business use as a permitted right."
Fanelli told the board that she was very enthusiastic about restoring the 115-year-old building and keeping the only Laundromat in town open.
On May 11, town building official Dave Coleman issued work stop orders on the two end units due to asbestos issues. The order "is illegitimate, unwarranted, and has no basis," said Fanelli. One reason, she said, is that the work she is being told by the town stop doing is "superficial" and doesn't require a permit under town code.
Town administrator Ken Knight said he is aware of the situation, and that the issues between Fanelli and the code inspector are being raised because current zoning laws don't change the proposed living area to a residence. "And that has been the major source of contention," said Knight. Coleman has discussed the matter with town attorney Bo Nerlin, and staff is "very much involved with this."
Fanelli told the DCI that the building's east unit, which she plans to convert into living quarters as allowed under current zoning, has roughly 274 square feet of 30-percent asbestos floor tile that needs to be removed. She discovered the tile after removing the sub-flooring.
Asbestos abatement work in public and commercial buildings is overseen by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Any material containing asbestos must be removed by state-certified workers, according to the state website. However, single-family residences aren't covered under the law, and asbestos materials can be removed by the owner. Fanelli contacted a company in Denver and was told that the same job that she can do for almost nothing will cost between $6,500-$7,500 if done professionally.
Fanelli said the stop order on the west unit makes no sense. There is no asbestos to be found in any of the rooms, and the floor, which is fully exposed, is solid wood.
In trying to resolve the problem with the town, Fanelli said her experiences with Coleman has been "nothing but frustrating."
Fanelli told the board she is seeking the town's cooperation, and that she needs "a clear path forward" if she is to complete the work needed to bring the building up to date. In the meantime, because she has been unable to remedy the situation with Coleman, she has obtained legal council.