Fire and a county request to lower some density

The thing to write about this week is the fire restriction. And I will. But…

I just can’t not mention a request by the Gunnison County commissioners asking for a cut in density on a piece of affordable housing property in Mt. Crested Butte as it is before the town planning commission this week.

The county owns Lot 34 in Pitchfork, which is approved for six deed restricted affordable housing rental units. The county, through the board of commissioners, want to reduce the number of units to four but keep the same number of bedrooms. The county is also requesting to allow for the use of the units to change from local long-term rental to deed-restricted for-sale units.

In the county’s letter to Mt. Crested Butte, the lower density with larger units would address some issues including parking, cost of the units and impacts to the neighborhood. “We can develop the same amount of bedrooms in 4 units as 6 for lower cost and make the units more usable for residents at a lower impact to the neighborhood,” the letter states.

According to the Mt. Crested Butte analysis, “Pitchfork is a very dense subdivision at 13 units/acre. The layout of the subdivision coupled with this density has presented several problems, most notably snow removal and parking during our winters. The building of any units on this property enhances these problems. The Planning Commission shall judge if the proposed application better serves in the management and use of the subdivision.”

A neighbor wrote the town asking for the planners to approve the request to cut the density and allow larger units that could attract working families while reducing ramifications of the development such as parking, height of buildings and obstruction of views.

Let’s be clear here: This request by the Board of County Commissioners to reduce density in an affordable housing development has nothing to do with Brush Creek or the criticism by some commissioners toward the town of Crested Butte that the town too often chooses character over more needed density. This is apples and oranges. And that is the point—the BOCC is apparently hoping that the Mt. Crested Butte review board looks at the big picture and makes the best decision for that particular spot. Instead of just cramming in the most rental units possible, the commissioners are asking for more ownership opportunity with less impact on the neighborhood. The county wants a holistic review and logical decision that considers the location, the ramifications of the development and a good, overall affordable housing project that is acceptable to the neighbors and fits in with the existing neighborhood.

Good on ‘em. That’s all anyone really wants….isn’t it? It is.

The Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission will consider the request from the county on Thursday, July 5 at 4 p.m.

Back to fires.

It is crunchy out there. Really, really crunchy. Even in the high country. And right now the county, the Forest Service and the BLM all essentially have a fire ban in place. Keeping it simple, it is against the law to have a campfire, light a firecracker, take a vehicle off the road or even smoke a cigarette or joint in the woods. You have to be in your car.

This is serious stuff. 

One little ember that you won’t even notice can be fanned by the wind and start a devastating blaze. There are several around the state right now. So forgo the campfire this trip. Don’t toss the cigarette out the window and relish the vape instead of smoking a bowl on your bike trip. My guess is that if any local sees you smoking or “camp firing,” you might get doused. This is our home and a forest fire will destroy what it is you came to see. We take this stuff seriously. So please: Do not start any fires outside right now.

Rain is in the forecast but not for a while. The monsoons might be heavier than normal this year. But all that is for later. In the meantime please honor the fire ban. Thank you…

—Mark Reaman

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