Project still has lengthy consideration process ahead
by Cayla Vidmar
A dozen neighbors of a proposed Mt. Crested Butte annexation—Hunter Ridge Parcel—showed up to the April 3 Town Council meeting to voice their opposition to the project and ask questions about the proposal. Twenty-two letters of opposition and 14 signatures against the proposal were included in the meeting’s agenda packet.
The outpouring of opposition was somewhat of a moot point however, as it turns out council members had no choice but to approve the determination of eligibility of the annexation, according to state law. This approval will begin the town’s six-month subdivision process, which includes a public comment period and eventually a vote by Town Council.
The proposed parcel is 10.28 acres, which runs along the south side of Hunter Hill Road and across from the two-acre Hillside parcel, which was annexed by the town in 2014. In order for the parcel to be approved for annexation, the Town Council must first determine that the property meets the state statutory requirements for eligibility, which was done at the April 3 council meeting.
In the April 3 meeting agenda, Mt. Crested Butte community development director Carlos Velado provided a memorandum of the Hunter Ridge annexation eligibility, which included the eligibility requirements, limitations and notes from Velado confirming the parcel’s eligibility for annexation.
According to Velado, “If the town were to deny eligibility when the project meets the state requirement, we would be in violation of not meeting the requirements of state law and we would be infringing on the rights of the applicant for due process in consideration of the annexation as granted by state law.” Council members had no choice but to approve the parcel’s eligibility for annexation during the April 3 meeting, based on state statutory requirements.
There was confusion among the public about what exactly the council was approving or denying that night.
“This meeting is about eligibility for statutory determination, not a decision that the property will be annexed or not,” said Mt. Crested Butte town attorney Kathleen Fogo.
Regardless that the town would not be voting to approve or deny the Hunter Ridge Parcel, Mt. Crested Butte community members voiced their concerns about the project.
Jaima Giles, a Mt. Crested Butte resident and local real estate professional, wrote in a letter to the council, “Mt. Crested Butte does not have a demand for, or an economic need for, additional high-end housing projects on the mountain.” Giles included data on current real estate market trends in Mt. Crested Butte, stating, “Inventory is incredibly low in certain price points, primarily $500,000 and below, yet extremely high in other points, particularly $1 million and above.”
Giles noted that there are “currently 29 single-family homes on the market in Mt. Crested Butte, the least expensive being $649,000, and only three of these homes are under contract.” Giles concluded, “Our market demand is not calling for these types of projects,” and said the “average days on market for vacant land on the mountain is 1,079 days.”
Concerns of other Mt. Crested Butte residents included parts of the parcel being located in avalanche zones, the unstable geological nature of the land to be developed, and the slope of the parcel.
Residents are also concerned with effects the development will have on the lives of those already living on Hunter Hill Road and nearby, including traffic congestion, air quality, and safety for children.
“What will be the consequences of having additional traffic that includes heavy construction equipment to the residents and families with children in the immediate area?” wrote Karen and Alan Hough, property owners on Castle Road.
Moss Wagner of Crystal Road asked, “Why do we need more? Annexation tends to favor the developers. What benefits does the town get from this?”
Despite the motion of approval by the Town Council stating that the Hunter Hill Parcel meets state statutory requirements for eligibility, there is still a long road ahead, including the final approval or denial of the proposed annexation by Town Council and opportunity for public comment on the annexation.
“On April 3, council initiated the subdivision process, which means the proposal must go through the town’s subdivision plan for approval or denial, which is a minimum of a six-month process,” says Velado.
An informal pre-application conference for the Hunter Ridge Parcel is scheduled to be held May 1 with the Town Council. There will not be a public hearing at the May 1 meeting. Should the Town Council decide to move forward, there will be public hearing opportunities to voice concerns and ask questions before the Town Council makes a final decision on the parcel.