Crested Butte South looks to county for new designation

Proposal going for joint committee meeting

A move that will put more power over its subdivision into the hands of the Crested Butte South Property Owners Association is close to becoming a reality. The Gunnison County Commissioners and Planning Commission will meet on Friday, June 20 to discuss designating the subdivision, seven miles south of Crested Butte, as a special area.



The proposed regulations are meant to streamline a lengthy permit approval process for building in Crested Butte South, which lies in unincorporated Gunnison County. Currently, both the county and the subdivision must approve building permits.
Under the proposed regulations, Crested Butte South will handle its own approval process for both commercial and residential buildings, with the county planning department simply giving its stamp of approval.
“We want to get them as close as possible to incorporation and get the county out of that process but still do what we have to statutorily,” county planning director Joanne Williams said during a county Planning Commission meeting last month.
Crested Butte South has been pursuing steps toward becoming a town for some time. In 2003, Gunnison County agreed to move ahead with the idea of designating Crested Butte South as a special area—an overlay region in the county in which a different set of rules can apply other than those laid out in the county’s Land Use Resolution (LUR).
In 2005, the Property Owners Association began its planning process by hiring Julie Ann Woods of Elk Mountains Planning Group to help to develop a Commercial Area Master Plan for 20 acres platted for commercial use in Crested Butte South. The Master Plan was completed and adopted by the Property Owners Association board in 2006.
Shortly thereafter, the subdivision’s board began the process of getting approved for a Special Area Designation under the Gunnison County Land Use Regulations.
Crested Butte South currently has 1,500 residents, or 10 percent of Gunnison County’s 2007 population of 14,865. It’s estimated to have 2,600 people at build-out. There are currently 368 lots built on in Crested Butte South, with 782 lots total in the subdivision.
Woods says existing Crested Butte South residents will not see any differences if the special area designation is passed. Instead, “The biggest difference will be for someone starting new for a land use change process,” she said.
Right now in Crested Butte South, most single-family homes and duplex applications are processed through the Property Owners Association office and given to the county for building permits. That won’t change, according to association manager Chris Behan.
He says what will change substantially is how larger multi-family projects and buildings proposed for Crested Butte South’s commercial district are reviewed. Currently, building owners must first go through Crested Butte South’s process and then submit to Gunnison County for a land use change permit. With the special area designation, Behan says, “It will be streamlined.”
The new process will entrust significant power to Crested Butte South, more so than any other subdivision in Gunnison County. Woods sees that as a good thing because it’s allowed the development to tailor regulations to what fits the area. “I like to look at it as empowering the local community,” she says.
The special area designation is widely acknowledged as an initial step in becoming a town. The POA board hired Public Resource Management Alliance Corporation (PreMA Corp) to study the cost of incorporation and estimate a first-year budget for Crested Butte South if its residents choose to incorporate. The results will be presented at the annual association meeting on August 10.
A revised draft of the regulations is available on Crested Butte South’s website at
The Gunnison County Commissioners and Planning Commission will hold a joint hearing on the regulations on Friday, June 20 at 1:30 p.m. in the Blackstock Government Building in Gunnison.

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