Making sure the town is protected
By Mark Reaman
With the recent county approval of the Slate River Development just north of Crested Butte, work on the property could begin this summer with the cleanup of the old landfill that is buried on the property. That would include major earthwork and lots of dump trucks hauling away whatever is buried there.
The town of Crested Butte is also preparing to proceed with its part of the deal that ultimately includes annexation of the property west of the Slate River and a tie-in to municipal water and sewer services for the subdivision. The Town Council will consider several agreements to move in that direction at the July 24 meeting.
Crested Butte community development director Michael Yerman updated the council about what to expect in the process at the July 10 council meeting. He reviewed the essentials of the pre-annexation agreement and the benefits that come to the town as a result of the “hybrid” development proposal with Cypress Equities and the county. An affordable housing site, potential locations for a public safety center and possible school, great water rights for the town, public trails, open space and river access are all part of the deal.
Yerman reminded the council of the major reduction in units for the subdivision from an original proposal of about 170 to the current 30. He said the landfill clean-up and road installation will be completed before annexation of the 14 acres takes place. “You can expect there will be additional negotiations with the developers during the process,” he said.
Councilman Jim Schmidt raised the “what if” questions. What if the developers reneged on the pre-annexation agreement and decided to not follow through with some elements of the deal? What if they decided not to do the voluntary cleanup of the old dump or proceed with the annexation?
“It seems the deal is frontloaded for the developers and the benefits to the town are all on the back end,” Schmidt said. “What do we have to protect the town?”
Town manager Dara MacDonald and town attorney Barbara Green both said that the town water and sewer extension would be contingent upon certain requirements. Yerman said under the 2016 pre-annexation agreement the developers are obligated to obtain an okay from the state that the potential land to be annexed is cleaned up enough to allow the benefits listed in the agreement, including a preschool through early elementary school. If that standard is not obtained from the state, the entire pre-annexation agreement would be “null and void, and the parties shall have no further obligations to one another,” according to the agreement contract.
“I feel they have come a long way since 2014 as a partner in this,” said Yerman. “We are contractually bound with protections for both parties.”
MacDonald said the town could “reinforce” the water and sewer agreements before the meeting on July 24 to make it clear the town is protected in the agreement.
“I’m just concerned there could be 23 houses out there before they start the VCUP [voluntary clean-up plan],” said Schmidt.
“The VCUP is the trigger for everything,” said Green.
Yerman said the clean-up is one of the first things the developers plan to do on the property and it could begin before the end of summer.
“Once they start that clean-up it will be a pretty large dig,” emphasized mayor Glenn Michel. “People need to understand the scope of the work. There will be a lot of dirt moved and a lot of trucks going in and out of there.”
“We’ll lay out the protections for the town at the next meeting,” assured MacDonald.