Sunday, August 18, 2019

Local town councils will hold joint meeting to talk Brush Creek

“It’s time to let the process take its course”

By Katherine Nettles

After Mt. Crested Butte got a handle on its majority consensus on December 3 regarding the corner at Brush Creek affordable housing project, it reviewed those positions in a letter addressed to the town of Crested Butte during its December 18 meeting and considered passing a resolution on it.

After some discussion, the council decided the letter being public record was enough, and there was no need to officially adopt it. Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte have set a date to meet on January 7 to attempt a dual consensus on what their requirements would be to move the proposal to the county’s preliminary plan review process. The two municipalities, along with the county and Crested Butte Mountain Resort, control ownership of the property and three of the four must agree on conditions they want included in that review before it can go further.

Councilmember Roman Kolodziej, a newcomer to the council in the past few months, said he felt uncertain about having a formal opinion on Brush Creek at this time.

“I have done my best to educate myself about this process. I have not been a part of it for two years like many have been. I’ve done some due diligence in reaching out to both councils and to other interested parties. With each person I talk to, my position on different points in this letter shift slightly. And I still have people I would like to reach out to on both councils, and other people involved to continue to come up with a more educated position, one that I can defend—specifically, on density and parking. And I would like to move the needle on the conversation from parking to necessary uses. Mister mayor brought up at the last meeting about trying to reduce the number of cars coming out of there. There’s also debate about how much parking Crested Butte will have. No one is really certain what to expect,” he said.

“I also think that in some of the conversations that we’re having, we’re not trying to reach the same goal. Some people are focused on a density number. And we’re measuring density in different ways, depending on who you talk to. My interpretation of what we’re trying to do now is show some solidarity, if you will. Are we just approving this draft to then go talk more with the town of Crested Butte and see if we can get over the last yard, or are we still talking about moving the number of units and parking?” asked Kolodziej.

Mayor Todd Barnes said he believes, in having talked with the mayor of Crested Butte, that “Several of us are strikingly close to agreeing. We’re not all going to agree, but that’s part of the whole process.”

“If it turns out that this project goes into the LUR and gains its approval based on our two municipalities’ agreement, then that’s what we want. We want to allow the applicant to finish the process,” said Barnes. He added that he thought the draft represented that quite well.

“It’s time to let the process take its course. Providing our position to Crested Butte, meeting with them on [January seventh] and seeing if we can both come to some kind of agreement, and both sign off on it would be great. And if we can’t, we still have the opportunity as a municipality to say, hey, we’re the third out of the four,” continued Barnes.

Kolodziej said he felt concerned about the project’s scope having gotten smaller and losing amenities, such as covered parking and laundry facilities in each unit.

Councilmember Janet Farmer pointed out that the council had just moments before passed an ordinance “requiring less parking than what we are insisting on here,” which referred to one of the four conditions the town agreed upon—requiring two parking spaces per unit in the proposed housing development.

Farmer said that Anthracite Place, a recent affordable housing complex in Crested Butte near Clark’s Market, requires only 1.5 parking spaces per unit and this led to a discussion of the various differences between the two sites. Several council members chimed in that Anthracite Place is in a walkable area of Crested Butte with good access to public transportation, but noted that it still has overcrowding in its parking spaces.

“I’d like to put the whole letter off until after we meet with Crested Butte, which is just a short time away,” said councilmember Nicholas Kempin. “Some of them are here tonight—they know what’s in this letter, and so why don’t we just put this off until after we’ve met?” he asked.

Councilmember Lauren Daniel responded in support of voting on the letter.

“Can we just point out that the whole point of doing this letter was that we all had these conversations, we’d figured all this out before the last meeting, and we had directed staff to draft the letter? The point was that we would go into the work session with something so it wasn’t just individuals saying ‘Well, I want this, and I want this.’ Because we’ve done that a few times now. At least for me, I’ve been having these conversations for months and months and months,” she said.

Kempin and Kolodziej both replied that they didn’t want to be held strictly to the positions in the letter.

“I’m trying to go into this meeting with an open mind. So is the point of this letter to lock us into this position going into the meeting? And if so, what’s the point of the meeting?” asked Kempin.

“Well, it’s public record, so they have it now. They know where we stand,” said Barnes.

The council agreed that they would not vote on approving the letter but rather wait for their meeting with Crested Butte, scheduled for January 7 at 5 p.m. in Crested Butte town council chambers.

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