“I think you need to listen to people from here…”
The public got its chance to comment on the preliminary plan for the proposed Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center and the rezoning of Mountaineer Square North this past Tuesday, August 17, during a public hearing at town hall. Concerns and support for the project were voiced.
The Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission has already approved the preliminary plan and PUD III (Planned Unit Development), and now it is coming before the Town Council for a public hearing and eventually a discussion of whether to approve the development plan. Simply put, the new PUD III will set the zoning standards for Mountaineer Square North.
A civic building like the arts center requires changes to the existing PUD III for Mountaineer Square North. The existing PUD III was approved in 2005 in a healthier economic climate, and at that time an arts center wasn’t in the plans.
The town of Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte Mountain Resort are joint applicants on the PUD III, which entails a 24.38-acre parcel. The town owns three parcels within the application, comprising 2.64 acres out of the total 24.38.
The public has already made its voice heard, submitting comments to the Planning Commission during its review process and to the town. Overall there was enthusiasm expressed about the proposed Performing Arts Center (PAC), and the hope it will help stimulate the mountain’s economy. However, town residents also expressed concerns that it might compete with, rather than complement, the existing arts center in Crested Butte.
“We assume tax money is going into this project, and as residents, we have concerns,” wrote Tom and Sharon Dobson to the town. “The upper valley has a limited audience, with limited discretionary funds for the arts. Rather than compete with the town of Crested Butte’s performing arts center, let’s complement what they do not have. A physical activity center would be a better use for the property…”
Concerns were also expressed about the proposed height of the structure’s Fly Tower and its impact on the surrounding viewshed, as well as a “shadowing” effect on Emmons Road during Mountaineer Square North build-out that would lead to ice buildup and reduced sun exposure.
Building to the curb of Emmons Road, thereby eliminating the existing sidewalk, is another concern expressed in several letters.
“I object to the initial PUD application for the following reasons,” wrote Evergreen condo owner John Bosworth. “The town of Mt. Crested Butte needs to keep the current easement for the sidewalk on Emmons Road. The setback for a building needs to be 20 feet from the property line for a building 45 feet tall, and 30 feet from the property line for a building 75 feet tall. Building on or near the property line would force the town into giving up their permanent easement and create problems for pedestrian safety (sidewalk), snow removal, snow storage, traffic safety, and would create shadows on Emmons Rd.”
The August 17 public hearing kicked off with a full house. John Sale, planning director for Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) made an initial introductory presentation on the project, followed by several experts who spoke to the architecture, civil engineering, traffic and overall vision for the PAC. Margery Feldberg, president of the Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center (MCPAC) non-profit, also provided some history on the project and an update on fundraising.
“This is one of the most ambitious projects we’ve undertaken,” she said. “The campaign consultants have done this for other performing arts centers. They have been hard at work for eight months, conducted over 60 interviews with potential donors and stakeholders, and a report is due next week. Notwithstanding the economy, there is ample support to get this done.”
The PAC building program looks something like this: a 400- to 500-seat theater, 900 post office boxes, a lobby with café (which would function during the day as a meeting place for the community), an outdoor amphitheater, and spaces that could be rented out for weddings and community events.
Steve Bunt, owner of CB Sports on Emmons Road and vice president of the Evergreen condos homeowners association, was the first member of the public to present. His issues with the PUD III ranged from the lack of disclosure about the plan to losing the Emmons Road sidewalk during build-out to issues with snow removal and storage.
“On May 19 I received a certified letter [about the PUD III] but it really didn’t give full disclosure,” Bunt said. “When we’re doing something like this, when you’re talking about a plan of this scope, I shouldn’t have to come up here to the planning department to find out what’s going on. That stuff needs to be disclosed right away. I don’t know how it works. I’m requesting this is followed up on; it’s a real important thing for everyone in the future.
“We’re asking for everyone here to be good neighbors, we want what’s built out there to be reasonable,” Bunt continued. We’re asking for the setbacks to be further back, and for the buildings to be shorter in height.”
Bunt also was concerned about pedestrians walking in front of and behind buses at the skier drop-off, and proposed changing that plan. “I propose we take the skier drop-off out to the end of Emmons Road. It gets some of the traffic off Gothic Road, and if we’re funding part of this thing with DDA money, that’s where DDA money should be going—to that skier drop-off. I think that should be done before anything else.”
Bunt concluded with, “I’ve been here for a long time. I’ve owned a business here for over 30 years, sitting in my perch watching what’s going on every day. I’m not here to stop the project, but improve it. I think you need to listen to people from here, not just experts from outside of town.”
Danny Myers, association manager for the Chateaux condominiums, spoke as well on behalf of the Chateaux board. He reiterated Bunt’s point that it was impossible for the Chateaux board to craft comments, considering the lack of disclosure in the certified letter.
“We ask that you consider the impacts to the folks on the west side of Gothic Road, the aesthetics looking down from Chateaux, and please consider the top of the parking garage usage. We ask that traffic issues continue to be mentioned, since now what was two lanes might be three or even four, and there are hundreds of pedestrians crossing that road.”
In the PUD III application, deceleration lanes would be added on Gothic Road to accommodate the entrances to Mountaineer Square North.
“In general, the board was also concerned with any further tax implications of this development,” Myers concluded.
With so much to cover and consider before making a decision on the PUD III application, the council moved to continue the public hearing at the next meeting on September 7.