“The best time to talk about housing was 20 years ago”
By Cayla Vidmar
The Mt. Crested Butte Town Council has instructed the staff to initiate action that will bring 17 acres in the current North Village Planned Unit Development (PUD) into town control with the idea of locating housing on the parcel. It is currently designated as parkland.
Currently, those 17 acres are used as tent camping during the summer months, and in the original annexation agreement, a softball field was required to be built. Despite some obvious anger from locals at the decision during the July 17 Town Council meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve the initiation to remove those 17 acres from the North Village PUD.
Mayor Todd Barnes kicked off the discussion, stating “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the best time to talk about housing was 20 years ago, so it’s time to start talking about some housing.”
Town manager Joe Fitzpatrick mentioned the original North Village annexation agreement, in which “the developer agrees to install one finished softball field.” Fitzpatrick noted, “That’s one thing hanging out there if we pull this acreage out of the PUD.”
Councilman Dwayne Lehnertz asked, “So if the property is pulled out of the PUD, is that potentially void?”
“Potentially,” Fitzpatrick answered. “That’s a little bit of a gray area. This agreement did not anticipate the property being separated out.” Fitzpatrick passed that bit of gray area to town attorney Kathleen Fogo to decipher at a future date.
“We could fit a softball field on there somewhere, Joe. It would be an amenity for the neighborhood,” said Barnes.
Barnes made sure to clarify what the 17 acres would be used for, asking, “Would we want to amend the motion to include the purpose of the removal and clarify that it is specifically for housing?”
Fogo said they could, and echoed that she thought that was the direction the council was heading regarding the parcel.
Councilwoman Lauren Daniel asked if further clarification on what type of housing—workforce and affordable housing—was necessary at this time. Barnes stated that no, “housing is housing,” and said it wasn’t important to delineate that yet.
The motion to remove the 17-acre parcel from the North Village PUD for the purpose of housing development was approved by all council members. At which point an angry group of about a half dozen people from the public streamed out of the room, the word “unbelievable” muttered towards the council.
According to community development director Carlos Velado, next steps on the parcel involve a recommendation from the county Planning Commission to the Town Council after a public hearing, and then the council will consider the alteration, after another public hearing.
If removal from the North Village PUD is approved, the parcel will require rezoning, and “The rezoning process will require additional public hearings,” Velado confirmed via email.