Public meeting on aquatic center Monday
After nine public hearings, eight months, two versions and a land swap later, the town of Mt. Crested Butte is finally wrangling in the plans for Mountaineer Square North, the last phase of the base area redevelopment at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR).
On Wednesday, May 21, the Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission finished deliberations with CBMR planning officials and unanimously agreed that the plans should be recommended for preliminary approval by the Town Council.
CBMR real estate and sales director Michael Kraatz said after the meting, “It was a good process. We made a lot of good changes to the original plan. We’re looking forward to going onto the council next month and continuing the process. Hopefully we’ll be through it sometime in the fall.”
Mountaineer Square North will consist of six primary buildings and several smaller buildings, including residential units, conference spaces, retail and commercial units, and a proposed aquatic recreation center.
The Planning Commission entered one-on-one deliberations with the developers after the final public hearing for the preliminary plans on April 30.
During a deliberative session on May 7 the Planning Commission discussed the terms and conditions the town would have for CBMR’s proposed development.
Once again, town planning consultant Julie Ann Woods brought a list of concerns held over from previous meetings.
The amount of heated snowmelt systems in the design, and the need to use a snowmelt system near a proposed skier drop-off area were sticking points from the previous meeting.
Part of the commission’s discussion has been on the complex management scenario that could arise when CBMR, the town of Mt. Crested Butte and individual retailers all have an interest in snow removal along Emmons Road. Woods said the developer should come up with a snow removal management plan as part of the final PUD (planned unit development) guide. “We want to make sure snow removal is seamless—we don’t care who does it as long as it happens,” Woods said.
In regard to concerns about too many heated snowmelt paths and sidewalks in the plan, Kraatz said the design team had met with Dave Houghton, director of the Resource Planning Group, to discuss alternative snowmelt systems and designs. Kraatz said they would have a more refined version of the entire snowmelt system during the final plan stage.
The Planning Commission also continued a discussion about the prospect of adding residential units to the proposed aquatic center. During the last meeting the Planning Commission reviewed an aquatic center design with 67 residential units. Woods said, “What becomes a little tricky with the aquatic center is the desire to maintain the right to develop residential units along with this building… The issue we have to deal with is the height.”
Regarding the new design, Planning Commission member Tom Steuer quipped, “It went from a Frank Lloyd Wright to a big box store.”
Planning Commission member Sara Morgan said the design they were shown might be worse than what is actually built, because not all 67 units may have to be accommodated. “It could be just one really expensive condo,” she said.
Following the April 30 meeting, the commission seemed set on coming back at a later date to get residential units approved if necessary. Kraatz agreed that was permissible as far as CBMR was concerned, since there would be multiple phases of construction and ample time to change that aspect of the design. “You don’t have to nail it down as part of this process,” he said.
But on the advice of town staff, the commission agreed on including the full extent of residential units in the plans, and concurred that a reduction could be done later. Town manager Joe Fitzpatrick said, “You have to design the PUD guide to allow for the maximum situation. What we’re dealing with is a need to swap a piece of property evenly.”
Planning Commission chairman Dusty Demerson agreed that if the town lost its residential rights on the land, the town would lose values on the property and the trade wouldn’t be fair.
On Wednesday, May 21, the Planning Commission reviewed their previous changes, and finalized the development conditions and recommendations they would make to the Town Council.
Regarding the residential rights on the aquatic center parcel and the building’s design height, Morgan noted that a condition of the design was that the aquatic center would be no taller than 92 feet, which is approximately how tall the building was shown in an architectural plan presented during the April 30 meeting. Again, Morgan said the building could eventually turn out very different. “It was one idea… I’m not sure it needs to be 92 feet,” she said.
Demerson agreed and said, “I have the same concern as Sara, our point about the possible residential component in the (recreation) center would be more strongly made… if limited at most to the tallest height of another building in the project.”
He continued, “I’m not comfortable sending a recommendation to the council that the town gets the tallest building.”
For the aquatic center, the Planning Commission agreed to use the same definition of height taken from Mountaineer Square North Building B (immediately north of the Grand Lodge), which calls for a maximum average height of 68 feet.
The Planning Commission also discussed that a pedestrian bridge shown across Gothic Road near The Store in an earlier design plan should be a part of the final development, although it was not decided who should pay for its construction. Kraatz said CBMR was not quite ready to make that call either.
The preliminary plans for Mountaineer Square North will now head to the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council. According to Community Development Director Bill Racek the council will also hold a public hearing and deliberative sessions on the preliminary plan. Once the council approves the preliminary plans, the developer will make necessary changes and return to the planning commission for final review. The town council will also make a final review of the designs. Racek says the preliminary planning stage is meant to resolve the majority of issues that may arise in the development, so that the final planning stage can proceed more smoothly.
But one important piece of the Mountaineer Square North development, the town’s aquatic center, will be further refined during a public meeting of the Mt. Crested Butte Downtown Development Authority (DDA) on Monday, June 2 at 5 p.m. For its stake in the aquatic center and several other components of infrastructure, the town of Mt. Crested Butte is listed as a joint applicant with CBMR in the developments plans.
The DDA, which is funded by tax-increment financing, was created in 1997 to assist in the envisioned reconstruction of the town center in Mt. Crested Butte. The district encompasses a large portion of central Mt. Crested Butte, including the ski base area and surrounding condominiums. It is the DDA’s responsibility to design the aquatic center, and to fund the facility’s $20 million plus construction and day-to-day operation.