Mt. CB reviews the updated Village at Mt. Crested Butte proposal

“This is presentation one of meeting one”

[  By Kendra Walker  ]

The Village at Mt. Crested Butte project, formerly known as the North Village, is under preliminary plan review. On November 15, the Mt. Crested Butte town council reviewed the proposed project, heard public feedback and will continue to review and discuss at a future meeting. 

“This is probably one of the largest projects Mt. Crested Butte has seen in quite some time,” said deputy community development director Hillary Seminick, who presented the details of the planned unit development (PUD).

The 150-acre property located next to the base of Snodgrass is owned by Claudio Alvarez and his North Village Associates team has been working on the proposal over the past several years. The proposal aims to be “vision-driven” through a flexible zoning approach that will allow for publicly driven opportunities and stakeholders to establish themselves within the plan. 

The project includes a new Rocky Mountain Biological Lab (RMBL) campus and visitor center, a year-round multimodal trail system, a potential new civic site for town facilities, a potential hotel, and residential and mixed-use development. 

The density has been reduced significantly since the town council last saw the project during sketch plan, down to 342 residential units from the previously proposed 700. The proposal includes up to 342 residential units, 40 dormitory pillows, up to 100 accommodation (hotel) units and up to 134,000 gross floor area (GFA) for commercial uses. If a hotel is not built, the 100 accommodation units would revert to 40 residential units, for a total of 382 dwelling units.

The PUD application has been split into 15 different tracts that all have designated use, density and floor maximums and will be required to receive design approval from the town prior to development. Compact, mixed-use development is focused in the Village Core, while medium and low density is targeted for the outskirts of the Core. Some tracts have been designated to include short-term rentals (STR), while other residential tracts to not allow STRs. The development will also include 64 acres of open space, a year-round trail network and transit system, and a wetland mitigation and restoration plan with RMBL. During Phase 1, a master developer will construct the Village Boulevard and Village Loop, commuter trail, utility mains and bus turnouts. 

Mt. Crested Butte owns land adjacent to the parcel, called Parcel F. The applicant has proposed a land swap with the town to accommodate the PUD design, where the Town would receive a 77,243 square-foot area of the Village parcel and North Village Associates would receive a 61,701 square-foot area of Parcel F. 

Overall, the council appeared open to the land swap. “Either piece is totally useless to the current owner,” explained project manager Crockett Farnell. “It’s disconnected and disjointed as it is now.”

Assistant town manager and community development director Carlos Velado agreed saying, “It potentially improves access to Parcel F.”

Community housing and RMBL

The property’s annexation and development agreement requires the completion of 17 community housing units prior to issuance of any certificate of occupancy for any free market unit. North Village Associates has proposed 40 RMBL dormitory pillows in lieu of 17 units, to be built in tandem with the RMBL campus. 

“We’ve struggled in the valley providing units for people to rent and have offered nothing for seasonal,” said RMBL executive director Ian Billick. “RMBL’s priority is to bring those units online as quickly as we can.” The team said the dormitory units could consist of several private bedrooms that would share common spaces like cooking facilities and bathrooms.

In the circumstance RMBL is unable to build the 40 dormitory pillows, North Village Associates would revert to building the 17 units. Each individual tract will also generate different employee housing needs depending on the number of residential units and commercial floor area. Should the development realize full buildout, a total of 88.37 community housing units would be generated. 

Public comment

“My main concern is water, which is a non-renewable resource,” said Kathy Hooge. She noted the application’s water analysis report was written in 2014. “I think we need to have a new report with water data from 2021 and 2022.”

She also expressed concern for the 40 dormitory pillows being built instead of 17 units for year-round workers. “I am a proponent of RMBL. RMBL is one of my favorite places, but I’m still frustrated thinking the 17 units should be for the people of Mt. Crested Butte. “

“I’m highly in support of this proposal,” said Dave Ochs. “I appreciate this entire team has really reached out to the community to find out what the needs are and address them. From a recreation point of view…we lack a lot of trails, green trails, connector trails and the proposed stacked trail systems make a lot of sense.”

“I believe that the neighborhood community aspects will complement the base area and bring the live, work, play aspect that we all strive to have here,” said Patti Hensley. “My dentist moved to CB South, I get my haircut in CB South, and when I’m down there I grab a bite to eat there,” she said, noting that the Village could also provide those local resources and bring people to Mt. Crested Butte throughout the year.

Andrew Arell urged the council to consider electrification requirements for the project and beyond. “A local electrification mandate is not only symbolic but also the most effective means to change our community,” he said. “There is no assurance this development will be built all electric at this time. I want to request a pause on any further considerations of PUDs…and direct town staff to prioritize a community electrification study with the goal of drafting an electrification ordinance to bring to a vote.”

The North Village Associates team noted that electrification is a top priority for the project, and they even proposed it be fully electric. However, they said they received pushback from the planning commission to take out gas altogether. 

While much groundwork has been developed for the overall site map and tract allowances, many specific details of the project would be ironed out during the design phase and individual development of each tract, if the preliminary plan is approved. The council made it clear they wanted to look at this project as an opportunity to move the town forward in the right direction and not to repeat the same mistakes that have been made in other subdivisions that impact livability, such as parking, roads and traffic impacts, community housing and short-term rentals. 

Council member Roman Kolodziej said there was a lot to digest in the application before being able to make a decision for approval. “In theory this is the first time I’ve seen this proposal, even though earlier on there were other proposals. This is day one for me,” he said. “This is presentation one of meeting one.”

The council and town staff made some updates to recommendations and conditions for the applicant prior to the next meeting, among them including: provide a review letter from the Crested Butte Fire Protection District regarding roadway design; provide updated information from a traffic engineer regarding Gothic Road and Village Boulevard intersection improvements; propose a phase plan for the 17 community housing units should RMBL not build the 40 dorm pillows; and create options for parking spots, garage sizes, aggregate parking and parking easements. 

As of press time, the next meeting date to continue discussion of the Village at Mt. CB has not been confirmed. 

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