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CB Council keeping an eye on Brush Creek developments

Worried about the future impacts for big picture of affordable housing

By Mark Reaman

While not privy to the latest revision proposed by developers of the Corner at Brush Creek affordable housing proposal, representatives of the Crested Butte Town Council are ready to attend the next public hearing, at the Gunnison County Courthouse at 1 p.m. on Friday, May 4.

No official plan revision was shared with the council before the April 16 meeting but the developers had said they planned to lower the number of units from 240 to 220 and include some for-sale units. They planned to reduce the size of the largest proposed buildings but also not build a previously proposed park-and-ride lot.

Councilmen Kent Cowherd and Chris Haver have been taking point on the county review process for the Town Council and were given the nod to continue to do so and react when new revisions are made available.

Town attorney Barbara Green said no contract for the sale of the land has been signed but it is “an open question” that the developers will probably re-approach the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council to reconsider its stance when they have a new and full council appointed later this spring. That council earlier this year deadlocked over whether to support the land transfer to the developer, Gatesco Inc., and as a result was not in favor of doing so. Because the town of Crested Butte is on the same page, this would effectively squash the proposal.

“The original request for proposals included a transportation element and it appears that part is being removed so it does not meet the original proposal,” noted mayor Jim Schmidt. “That’s a concern and should be a deal breaker.”

Cowherd ticked off several other concerns that have not been eliminated with the proposed revisions. Compatibility and density topped the list.

Councilman Will Dujardin agreed with most of Cowherd’s concern but said he was comfortable with building sizes, given the need for more density to significantly address affordable housing needs.

“The town, which has done the most to address affordable housing needs in the county, continues to realize the importance of affordable housing projects,” said Schmidt, “but not this particular project with that density, and especially with the fact much of it is not deed restricted but is in fact free market housing. The recent marketing efforts on social media, via the mail and people soliciting signatures for petitions by the developer, might be concerning as well since such efforts usually share just part of the story.”

Haver agreed. “They seem to be making a jump that if you sign a petition supporting affordable housing then you support this project,” he said. “That’s a big jump. As Kent said, the valley has reached a point where other private developers are in the wings considering affordable housing projects in various places but they are waiting to see what happens here. If this goes through at the current density, the economic driver for these other developers is gone. And most likely it will be gone for another 20 years until the need is this great again. Doesn’t it still make sense to at least put part of the northern valley’s long-term rental housing needs in Mt. Crested Butte where they are trying to build a year-round economy? Just think of all the great restaurants and bars up there that we have lost over the years because of lack of patrons. It would help build a better resort experience, including après ski. And offer the residents a chance to be a voting part of a town.

“I see this being sold as the only way to solve affordable housing in our valley and I don’t believe it is. I also worry that this project puts certain long-time amenities at risk of going away such as the Deli Trail, the Nordic trails off the Town Ranch and the Slate River takeout by Brush Creek,” Haver continued. “I struggle with how the valley will feel about other affordable housing efforts as we move forward in the future if this project is pushed through, being as contentious as it is. I believe there has to a better way to work with our community in facing the challenges of affordable housing needs than the way we have gone about the Corner of Brush Creek.”

The county’s public hearing on the Corner at Brush Creek is slated to continue on May 4 at 1 p.m. at the Gunnison County Courthouse.

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