Sunday, September 15, 2019

Crested Butte council cautious with Brush Creek proposal

Should see sales agreement soon

By Mark Reaman

 It appears the Crested Butte Town Council feels a bit put out about the proposed Brush Creek affordable housing project. The town has a quarter interest in the 14-acre property where a 240-unit development is planned, but Gunnison County is the sole owner and main negotiator on the transaction with Gatesco, Inc. of Houston.

“I have gotten lots of opinions from people on the plan,” said councilman Jim Schmidt at the September 5 council meeting. “Several times during this recent process the town asked for public meetings to help shape possibilities of what would go out there. The other partners were not on board. Now I think we need to make comments and ask our staff to closely follow the county review. I also feel the town needs to see the contract transferring the land and discuss it, either in executive session or in an open meeting.”

Town attorney Barbara Green said since a land use application has been submitted to the county for the project and the review process has been triggered, certain elements of the county review will now be set. But the town may not have a dominating voice in that process. “The county is the sole owner of the property,” Green explained. “The town is a party to the MOA [Memorandum of Agreement] signed in 1998.”

Town manager Dara MacDonald said the Town Council voted to approve the choice of Gatesco as the number one developer for the land. She said the council had agreed to continue negotiations with the developer but she has not been involved in any recent negotiations.

“The town is likely a referral agency and can make official referral comments,” said Green. “You do not have any ownership interest.”

Councilwoman Laura Mitchell asked if the town could shape the plan as a 25 percent partner.

MacDonald said the town could be out-voted by the other partners and the plan would proceed whether the Town Council liked it or not.

“This seems like another developer-driven agreement,” said councilman Chris Ladoulis. “Could we hold a public meeting to discuss it?”

“You could but I’m not sure what that would accomplish,” responded MacDonald. “The county will take public comment during the review process with the Planning Commission.”

“The town input needs to be organized around county standards,” advised Green. “That is what the county can legally consider.”

“We’re left to just respond to the Gatesco proposal,” noted Ladoulis.

“We had discussed and advocated for a public process to discuss how the community wanted the parcel developed,” said MacDonald. “We were in the minority.”

“The developer says this proposal is the only way the project works,” added Green. “But he did not ask for community subsidies.”

“The history of that parcel started as a place for parking,” said Schmidt.

“We are aware and concerned about the development at Brush Creek,” concluded mayor Glenn Michel. “We as a council want the staff to closely monitor the process.”

“Should we now be looking closer at the Red Lady roundabout and one at the Four-way [Stop]?” asked Ladoulis. “If 200 people suddenly living there are working in Mt. Crested Butte they will be driving through town. Has that scale been contemplated?”

“That is exactly the type of comment we will submit,” promised Green.

Green and MacDonald met with county administrators last week to get updated on the project. MacDonald said the town should see a draft of the sales agreement this week.

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