Other parcel options and other proposals discussed
By Cayla Vidmar
On Tuesday night, the Mt. Crested Butte town council held a work session to discuss the Corner at Brush Creek development with the purpose of catching new members up to speed, and to get a sense of where this council stands on the matter. Though the idea of considering alternative parcels of land came up, the council did not jump at the idea of developing a nearby Mt. Crested Butte property. Councilmembers did, however, express interest in an alternative plan floated by the Friends of Brush Creek.
Gunnison County attorney David Baumgarten was tasked by the county board at a June 1 public hearing to have separate meetings with each of the stakeholders to facilitate conversation and find a “kernel of commonality” among each to work with. “If I find there are kernels, then I will go back to my board and say ‘yes,’ there is interest, this is worth pursuing,” stated Baumgarten.
Confusion among the council rose when Baumgarten brought up a different parcel of land located in Mt. Crested Butte in the North Village area, which is currently zoned for a park, according to town manager Joe Fitzpatrick.
“When you come to a clash, you can either say ‘I win, and you lose,’ or you can spread the conversation and create hybrid solutions,” stated Baumgarten. “One of the solutions is actually a parcel of land just outside the window. Are there other pieces of land where affordable housing conversations can take place?” he asked.
Councilman Dwayne Lehnertz then asked Fitzpatrick, “What do we have in mind for this property? Is that a conversation we want to enter into?” To which Fitzpatrick answered that it would require a major alteration for the North Village PUD with the owners, which include the town and the Mueller family.
Baumgarten then stated, “My purpose is to start a conversation. One may wonder if my intention is to point conversation around that piece of property but that is not my intention.”
Councilwoman Lauren Daniel then asked, “I thought we were talking about the Corner at Brush Creek, so why are we bringing up another piece of property?”
Councilman Ken Lodivico repointed the conversation back to Brush Creek, stating, “I think we all need to remember this work session is on Brush Creek.”
Later in the conversation, Gatesco attorney Kendall Burgemeister addressed the North Village parcel, stating that Gatesco did not want to be presumptuous in assuming that parcel of land was available until it was offered in a more formal matter.
The conversation then segued through various topics, eventually landing on David Liensdorf, who is representing the Friends of Brush Creek, a group that has been opposed to the current development plan due to density, among other things.
“I’m here on behalf of the Friends of Brush Creek, who are taking the position that the density in the current proposal is far too great. . . Our concern is that the proposal before the county is 18 times the density of Skyland, and it’s nine times the density of Larkspur, and that’s why the Friends of Brush Creek have come up with a design, not because the county can consider it, but to show what a compatible, still quite dense, affordable housing project would look like.”
Liensdorf continued, “It would have fewer buildings, it would have lower buildings, it would have smaller buildings, it would have more open space, more parks, more ball fields, it would have minimal visual impacts, adequate parking, and unlike the proposal before the county, it would have plenty of room for a transit center.”
This sparked interest among council members, including Steven Morris, who asked what funding would look like for the proposal.
“It would be a combination of tax increment financing and perhaps some private financing as well, but it would eventually be turned over to the housing authority,” Liensdorf stated.
The meeting wrapped up with plans for Baumgarten to meet with mayor Todd Barnes and Fitzpatrick, who will relay that conversation to the rest of the Mt. CB council. Baumgarten intends to continue having conversations with stakeholders, and to relay his findings to Gunnison County Planning Commission.
The next session of the ongoing public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 29 at the county courthouse.