Crested Butte South drops design review fees to encourage building

“If it gets them some work for a few months it’s worth it”

Construction projects can be expensive regardless of where they occur, but the price of building in Crested Butte South just got a little bit cheaper.



Last week the Crested Butte South Property Owners Association board of directors unanimously voted to eliminate architectural review fees for any building projects in the subdivision in 2009, effective immediately.
POA manager Chris Behan says the board has been batting the idea around for about two months. “We figured if there is anything we can do in the short term to help stimulate construction, we should do it,” Behan says.
POA president Al Smith says, “We think there are some people on the sidelines that have financial resources, that own lots, that could build, and all you have to do is give them enough incentive to do it… we’ll see how it goes.”  
The discussion to eliminate the fees during the POA’s April 9 meeting was fueled by new economic data recently presented by Gunnison Valley Futures, a group examining the state of the local economy. Gunnison Valley Futures hired Enterprise Research Institute director Paul Holden to develop a study of factual data on the current Gunnison County economy.
One of the findings of that study shows that at least 25 percent of the workers in Gunnison County derive their income from construction-related activities. Behan says in an effort to allow those workers to continue their trades, the POA decided to drop the review fees to encourage building in Crested Butte South.
“Building is such a big part of our economy,” Smith says.
Construction in Crested Butte South has been on the decline in recent years. Behan’s record of new construction projects goes back only to 2006, when there were 24 new homes started. In 2007 there were eight new residential projects started, and in 2008 there were four.
Land sales and title changes have also been on the decline, from 150 in 2005 to just 27 in 2008. There are more than 400 vacant lots remaining in the subdivision.
Behan says the POA is projecting only two new residential construction projects will start in 2009, but that projection was made prior to eliminating the review fees.
Architectural review fees vary based on the size and type of project, but, Behan says, most residential projects carry a fee of $750, and commercial projects are about $1,000. The fees make up a small fraction of the POA’s income. Behan says, “In 2006 when we were jamming, it was 9 percent of the budget. It was only 4 percent in 2007. This year we’re projecting 1 percent.”
Regardless, Smith notes, “We do have a pretty tight budget.”  
Behan says part of the board’s discussion concerned whether dropping the fees would really make any difference to builders. “In an overall construction project it’s a drop in the hat,” Behan says of the fee. “The flip side is, what are we really giving away?
“It might help a few people, it might help one, but if it gets them some work for a few months it’s worth it.”

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