Public raises concern over PUD plan
By Aimee Eaton
The town of Mt. Crested Butte is looking to expand public parking options around the base area with the development of a 150 space parking area to be located just north of the Nordic Inn.
According to Mt. Crested Butte community development coordinator Todd Carroll, the current plan is for the area to be a paved surface parking lot, not a structure.
The move, which is currently being considered as part of a larger planned unit development submitted to the town by the owners of the Nordic Inn, is raising some concerns from local residents who claim that the proposed parking area will change the character of the area and negatively impact the nearby residential area.
In a letter to the Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission and Town Council, homeowner Michael Blunk wrote, “I could not be more displeased with the concept that the town of Mt. Crested Butte wants to enter into a purchase contract for the vacant land next to the Nordic Inn for parking. I have no problem with the Town and the Downtown Development Authority purchasing the property, but not to be used as a parking lot… it seems that this desire for more parking stems from the few weekends last year when Crested Butte Mountain Resort could not accommodate their drive market guests. Why is it the Town’s responsibility to find more parking for a private business?”
The town entered into contract with the owners of the Nordic Inn for the proposed parking area property back in April. However, both the owners and the town were aware that the project, which includes updates to an additional five lots owned by the Nordic Inn and the expansion of the lodge from 28 rooms to 120 at build out, would have to go under review by the town planning commission and council. Also written into the contract is an option for the owners to purchase the parking area back from the town at an unidentified future date and cost. Should that occur, the parking spaces would remain.
According to acting town manager Karl Trujillo, development activity in Mt. Crested Butte is continuing and parking is a necessity. A current objective of the town is to insure the infrastructure exists for successful growth and visitor experience. Parking is part of that, and while there are several lots currently available, their longevity and practicality is unclear.
“The Town Council approved the purchase of this vacant land for parking and the Snowmass lease ends in 2018 which doesn’t mean they won’t renew the lease but we shall see,” said Trujillo.
Area residents Tim and Sarah Greydanus, submitted their concerns about the proposed parking solution to the planning commission. They wrote, “[We] know that the Town is concerned about losing the lease on the Snowmass Rd. Lot, and the proposed parking lot is a hedge against the potential loss, as well as providing for anticipated parking needs in the future. But, [we] would like to know if any studies have been conducted to quantify current and future parking needs…”
Other concerns submitted to the Planning Commission by neighbors and residents of the PUD area focused on lighting, overnight camping, line of sight, drainage, trespassing, ancillary costs of the proposed structure and safety.
Area home owner Richard Saperstein noted that the traffic study that had been conducted for the area was done during the summer months and did not adequately address issues that would arise during the winter.
“This study omits the busiest time of the year and when we experience the most hazardous driving conditions on upper Treasury Road, which is steep and has no sidewalks. The road narrows significantly with snow banks… During the winter months, the steep grade often results in a vehicular descent that is a controlled slide off a 90-degree turn. By locating this parking structure and setting in/egress just below the steepest section of the road, a dangerous condition is being created.”
Saperstein stated that some of the safety concern could be mitigated by requiring all access to the area be from Emmons Road, which comes in below the lot, rather than where it is currently sited on Treasury road.
The public comment period for the PUD has been closed, but the planning commission will continue its discussion of the proposal at its Dec. 20 meeting. After completing its discussion the commission will make a recommendation to the town council to either approve, deny or approve the proposal with conditions.