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Industrial park proposed south of Riverland

Could provide some employee housing

by Olivia Lueckemeyer

Developers looking to construct a 35-acre industrial park near Crested Butte met with the Gunnison County Planning Commission on July 15 to discuss the project, which they hope will provide further economic opportunities at the north end of the valley.

The project, tentatively named “Slate River Industrial Park,” would be located just south of the Riverland Industrial Park and would include 17 mixed-use lots ranging from 1.25 to 2.15 acres in size. The developers, L&D Ranches, LLC, plan to accept proposals for both industrial and light industrial uses, with the option of auxiliary housing for the light industrial clients, which could help alleviate the housing crisis.

“Bill Lacy has already received feedback from people who really want to have that option of living or having an employee live where that use is being made,” said Marcus Lock, attorney for the developers. “It would help with affordable housing.

“Sole proprietors who want to live and work near their business, those are the kind of folks we envision making use of this,” Lock continued.

Planning Commission chairman Kent Fulton commended the developers for providing a way for business owners or their employees to live and work in close proximity.

“We see this as being used very effectively in this county and I think it’s great that these people are looking for a place to house their small business and have a small place,” Fulton said. “It makes total sense to me.”

Commission members John Messner and Jack Diani were concerned over the lack of segregation between the light industrial and industrial lots. Diani referenced the model for the Vista Business Park, located off Highway 50 near Gunnison, as a possible precedent for how the lots could be clustered. Lock said that while the developers were willing to consider separating the lots, they had hoped to do so later in the process.

“Being candid, at the sketch plan phase, we would really like to not do that so we can sell any lot to any prospective purchaser,” Lock explained. “Then, if they [the lot owners] decide to make an industrial use, they won’t have the option of ancillary housing associated with that.”

Messner maintained that it would be difficult to review the application without knowing if or how the lots would be clustered.

“It may become a challenge to review those locational standards without knowing specifically which lots are being used for what,” Messner said.

Community development assistant director Neal Starkebaum said the planning staff would look into the Riverland residential density regulations and perhaps suggest a similar application for the proposed development.

Concerning the adjacent Slate River, Fulton expressed his concern about contamination from industrial activity. He encouraged the developers to ensure that any future property owner understands the rules when it comes to disposal and drainage of waste.

“When you get into light industrial and industrial applications, oftentimes we see products that are not conducive to nearby water,” Fulton told the developers. “I know this is a sketch plan but you should be thinking about how you are going to ensure that owners abide by covenants and that somebody will be there to enforce those rules so that we don’t have to send county money out to enforce [the regulations].”

Starkebaum pointed to two monitoring wells adjacent to the Slate River used to ensure that leaking septic does not transfer effluent to the river floor, however, he said the wells are located quite a bit further north than the proposed development.

“It is probably appropriate to take a look at if additional monitoring within the Slate River Corridor might be imposed,” Starkebaum said.

For septic, the developers plan to use individual on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS), however, water resource engineer Tyler Martineau said, depending on the use of the lot, the systems may have to be individually engineered to accommodate industrial waste.

“This is what makes it tricky, because at this phase we don’t know what is going on in these lots,” Martineau said. “So any individual lot owner, depending on what they propose, would have to be reviewed.”

The commission members once again suggested that the developers look to the Vista Business Park as a possible model for the development, since it typically makes the most sense to keep industrial and light industrial lots separated, especially if the light-use lots have supplementary residences.

“I was comfortable with Vista because if someone wants to put in a small shop with a residence next to it they might not want to do that if it’s sitting next door to something more industrial in nature,” Diani said. “That’s what I thought was well thought-out for Vista. It was a nice concept.”

A joint public hearing with the Planning Commission, a representative from Community Development and the county commissioners to further discuss the industrial park will be held at 10 a.m. on September 2 at Town Hall.

According to Lock, a new name could be suggested for the development at that time, since it could be confused with the proposed Slate River Development just north of town.

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