Developers hope to break ground by spring
The proposed Whetstone Business Park just south of Crested Butte on Highway 135 cleared a significant hurdle at the Gunnison County Planning Commission meeting last month.
Planning Commission members voted unanimously to close the public comment on the proposal and send it to the county planning staff with a recommendation for preliminary approval of the plan. Developer Mike Potoker said while the county process has been somewhat “cumbersome,” he feels the most recent iteration of the plan is better than ever. “We’ve decreased density significantly and added larger berms along the highway,” said Potoker. Potoker said the berms, as well as hundreds of mature trees, will be erected to shield the park from Highway 135. Potoker also said a pond will be created to address storm-water runoff and drainage issues. The proposed business park, which has been in the county planning process for over three years, envisions uses similar to its neighbor to the south, the Riverland industrial park. Potoker noted that Riverland is nearly built out, so he believes Whetstone will fill a need for additional local light-industrial enterprises. “There is a demand for similar kinds of uses,” he said. While Potoker says he isn’t sure exactly what kind of businesses the park will ultimately house, he said it will likely include a lumberyard. He also notes that there will be a residential component including eight residential lots, five residential/commercial lots and ten apartments. Seven of the apartments will be deed-restricted affordable housing units. “Four are restricted to qualified buyers who fall between 80 and 140 percent AMI (area median income),” he said. The others, Potoker said, will have softer deed restrictions. John Nichols, who along with partners Potoker and John Councilman has been shepherding the plan through the county process, is happy to have cleared this latest hurdle. “It’s certainly been a long process, but we’re glad to be where we are,” he said. The county planning staff will now consider the proposal and then send it back to the County Planning Commission. They will likely either recommend approval of the plan in its current form, or approve it with conditions. The final County Planning Commission vote for preliminary plan approval is scheduled for December 7. If the proposed plan clears the County Planning Commission, it will then be considered for final approval by the Gunnison County Board of Commissioners. “We hope to have permission to begin work on the project in the spring,” said Nichols.