A county project that feels like it’s in town
By Mark Reaman
The Gunnison County Planning Commission is considering a multi-family development request that abuts the town of Mt. Crested Butte, but the Town Council has indicated it is not in favor of the proposal. A second meeting on the Hunter Ridge proposal could be held as early as the first week in August.
The county planners met on the Hunter Ridge development site on Friday, July 19 in a work session. Developer Jamie Watt is asking to develop 16 residential units on approximately 10 acres. He plans to build four triplex units and four single-family homes on the site, which would be accessed off of Hunter Hill Road in Mt. Crested Butte.
In his application to the county, Watt stated that both the single-family homes and the triplex units would be no larger than 8,500 square feet. Two of the triplex units are proposed as deed-restricted workforce housing.
According to Gunnison county community and economic development director Cathie Pagano, the Planning Commission heard the initial presentation from Watt for the Hunter Ridge application in the morning. She said there were two neighbors in attendance and Mt. Crested Butte community development director Carlos Velado attended on behalf of the town of Mt. Crested Butte.
“Carlos gave the Planning Commission a brief overview of the annexation proposal and the denial of the proposed subdivision plan. He also explained the zoning of the parcels around the Hunter Ridge site,” Pagano said.
The Mt. Crested Butte Town Council had turned down a request from Watt to subdivide and ultimately annex the property into town in June 2018. Council members at the time raised several concerns with his subdivision proposal for seven single-family home sites on the property, including the type of soil testing completed by the developer, the lack of need for this type of development in Mt. Crested Butte based on real estate inventory, and whether it would truly meet community goals.
The Town Council sent comments to the county on June 11 this year that included a request that the county deny the sketch plan application.
The letter states, “The project is within our 3 Mile Plan and if the property were developed, the Town would prefer it to be within our Town Boundaries; [the] previous plan did not demonstrate need due to the current inventory in Town and the current proposed development does not either; [the] proposed application does not meet the principals of the continuity of the Town; [reasons] for the Town Council’s denial of the previous project were well documented; concerns still persist about the geology at the project; [the] proposed sizes of the structures are inconsistent with Mt. Crested Butte’s permitted maximum square footage; and [the] previous Town Council denied the previous sketch plan 6-1.”
Pagano said county planning commissioners asked the applicant to make the proposed unit square footage maximums align with the town standards for low-density multi-family and single-family, which would be closer to a maximum size of 6,500 square feet instead of 8,500 square feet.
Velado said the formula to determine density and size could be applied to the development and, “Hunter Ridge’s proposal meets the density requirement but there was discussion to have the individual unit square footages be similar to what would be required for the same types of lots as if developed in the town of Mt. Crested Butte.”
Pagano said the county planners also asked the applicant to respond to a June 19 letter from attorney Aaron Huckstep for nearby homeowner Pat Mullin regarding the proposed connection to Mt. Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District. In that letter, Huckstep said there is no guarantee the water and sanitation district will provide sewer and water to the development. Until that is done, Huckstep’s letter states, “Gunnison County should require the applicant to prove water and sewer availability before any action on the Application.”
Pagano noted that in the county’s sketch plan process a guarantee of water and sewer service is not required—only that there is a willing service provider.
“For the next meeting they’ve asked me to invite staff from both towns [Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte] to discuss the application’s compliance with the 3 Mile Plans,” Pagano said. “The Planning Commission expressed concern about the geologic hazards on the property but acknowledged that because this is a sketch plan they will not have the engineering detail and analysis necessary to understand that issue completely. We did receive written comments from neighbors but no oral comments were received at the meeting.”
The next meeting on the Hunter Ridge development proposal has not been definitively set but could happen as early as August 2.