Looking for middle ground to get something going
By Mark Reaman
The town of Crested Butte will send town manager Dara MacDonald to a meeting next Monday, August 27 that is being facilitated by Gunnison County attorney David Baumgarten about the proposed Brush Creek affordable housing project.
The Gatesco Inc. proposal—comprised of both deed-restricted and free-market rental and “for sale” units to be located on 14 acres at the corner of Highway 135 and Brush Creek Road—exited the county sketch plan phase of the county Land Use Resolution (LUR) review with several conditions.
Those included maximizing density at 180 units and needing the approval of three of the four MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) partners before moving to the next phase of the review with a preliminary plan application.
The four MOU partners include the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, Gunnison County and Crested Butte Mountain Resort, which all participated in the original acquisition of the property.
MacDonald told the council on Monday that Baumgarten’s office was hoping to gather representatives of the active stakeholders, including the two towns, the developer, the Friends of Brush Creek, and Skyland. According to a letter from Baumgarten’s office, the idea of the Monday meeting is to hold a “discussion and common understanding of the field of issues and of the process we intend to continue to conduct.”
A “draft matrix” of identified issues will be on hand so all the parties can be on the same page. MacDonald said the intention was for the meeting to not be a public meeting.
“It seems the intention is to summarize the issues as we stand today and make sure some big issues are not being missed,” added town attorney Barbara Green.
“It is an unusual process for the LUR,” noted mayor Jim Schmidt. “I’m fine with the staff attending and reporting back to us.”
“I’m happy they are getting the parties together and breaking down the discussion points to see if there is any middle ground. I think it is a good idea to have staff go down,” said councilman Chris Haver. “See what the new process is looking like and see how we have a voice in it.”
“We want to see something out on that property,” reiterated councilman Kent Cowherd. “We just want something compatible with the neighborhood, the community, and the values of the upper valley and town. We are looking for solutions on that property.”
Mt. Crested Butte councilman Dwayne Lehnertz was at the Town Council meeting and agreed with Cowherd. “I echo what Kent said. My opinion is that the desire is there from both town councils to have something go in there,” he said. “Now there is something that is a start. I believe Mt. Crested Butte’s interests are in alignment with Crested Butte. There is good reason to get something going out there and hopefully from the current proposal something that works for everyone can be negotiated.” He also said the identified workforce housing needs recommended more “for sale” units than currently proposed.
Schmidt again said the town of Crested Butte is in favor of having affordable housing at that location. He said the town has long had a “great dedication to affordable housing. We put our money where our mouth is,” and gave examples of millions of dollars of town money spent on workforce housing endeavors.
“In general, I would like to see Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte come together and represent this end of the valley together with the MOA partners,” added councilman Will Dujardin. “That might mean simplifying some of the issues we have brought up. It would be helpful if we could see how the proponent might make the latest idea with the new conditions work.”
MacDonald will represent the town of Crested Butte at the Monday morning meeting.