Decisions coming this summer
By Mark Reaman
A two-year vision quest for what the Crested Butte South commercial area should look like in the future will be concluding this summer. Picture a family of four walking down the Main Street of Crested Butte South. The kids grab an ice cream at the bakery and stroll by the new bike shop before relaxing at the corner plaza that sits beneath their third-floor apartment.
Cascadia Partners, an independent planning consultant, has been reviewing the new Crested Butte South development codes and commercial area building standards in an effort to update them and come up with a new, cohesive look for the village center.
A Crested Butte South Property Owners Association (POA) advisory committee has been in the loop and working with Alpine Planning since 2016 to keep the project moving forward. Initial concrete recommendations on how to guide the future look of the commercial area were made in May to the POA and the public.
The public is invited to the next hearing on the recommendations that will take place on June 14 at 6 p.m.
The most recent consultant guiding the process is being funded from a grant through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Gunnison County, as well as with funds from Crested Butte South.
“Back in 2016 the POA board of directors determined that planning for the commercial area and village center should be a priority in the Crested Butte South strategic plan,” explained POA manager Dom Eymere. “We are in the final stage of a 26-month process. The advisory committee will meet twice this month to review the recommendations and finalize the last few remaining items, such as proposed height restrictions, parking requirements, set-backs and FAR [floor area ratio], to name a few.”
Eymere said the overall idea is to establish a village center that becomes not just a business focus for Crested Butte South but also allows more opportunity for people to live in the village center and provide a fresh vibrancy to the area.
There would be a main street, slightly taller buildings that provide for businesses, office space and residential housing, plazas and more public amenities.
“Currently, we are looking at reducing the required commercial area land use mix from 33 percent to 20 percent in the core zone or Village Center,” Eymere said. ”This will allow more residential use in strategic locations. Market rates and economic sustainability indicators show that the scale of the community will never support the amount of commercial area we have designated or require with our current regulations. So we are doing this in sync with a strategic map that identifies the areas that have the best viability for parking, sidewalk design and community gathering spaces and with that, the areas that could be used for residential.
“The committee has identified the need to increase the height limitations, allowing it to go from 35 feet to 38 feet, or three stories, to allow for better commercial buildings,” Eymere continued. “There is also a commitment to on-street parking and capital improvement planning for parking and road improvements.”
Owners of property within the commercial district have participated in the planning process and Eymere said the Crested Butte South Village Center has some unique challenges, along with some great opportunities.
“The chance to create special public infrastructure like plazas, transportation hubs for bikes and buses, public restrooms and a Main Street design is a great opportunity,” Eymere said. “Right now Crested Butte South has so many different uses or zones with different regulations as well as un-platted areas that it is a hodge-podge. They all will now go through a more rigorous review process. This new plan is primarily specific to the C-zone, but will encompass all of Crested Butte South in how the development review process will work in terms of submittal, approval, additional review by outside agencies and some general requirements for all developments in Crested Butte South.”
Eymere said the first general reaction from the Crested Butte South community has been positive. There have been some general concerns raised and the POA and consultants are working to engage the community to make sure members of Crested Butte South understand the implications of the recommendations.
“We are looking at final recommendations by the advisory committee in June and board of director approval in July,” Eymere said in regard to a timeline for implementing the new plan. “This will put us in front of the Gunnison County commissioners for county approval in August. I know of several quality projects that have been in the wings awaiting the final document to begin the review process. This is an exciting time down here in Crested Butte South.”