Village at Mt. CB facing approval setbacks with town

Appeal hearing scheduled for December 5

By Kendra Walker

The Planned Unit Development (PUD) application for the Village at Mt. CB, formerly known as North Village, is facing some hiccups as the North Village Associates, LLC team and Mt. Crested Butte town staff don’t see eye to eye on conditions set in the project’s preliminary plan approval. An appeal hearing is scheduled for December 5 to iron out the details. 

The 150-acre property located between town hall and the Snodgrass trailhead proposes flexible zoning on 15 individual tracts that will allow for publicly driven opportunities. The project includes a new Rocky Mountain Biological Lab (RMBL) campus and visitor center, year-round multimodal trail system, commercial and civic spaces, 342 residential units, 40 RMBL dormitory pillows and a potential hotel with up to 100 accommodation units.

Crockett Farnell of Black Dragon Development and project manager for the applicant has submitted an appeal to a staff decision that North Village Associates has not met a condition of the town council’s PUD preliminary plan approval. He is appealing town staff’s determination that a condition requiring that the water and sewer plans are to be reviewed and accepted by the Mt. Crested Butte Water & Sanitation District prior to submission of the final plan application has not been met.

“When the council accepts the PUD preliminary proposal, you exit that meeting with a list of conditions they want to see in the final package,” Farnell recently shared with the News. “It’s incumbent on us to include those, then resubmit. Then it goes back to the planning commission for a final reading and approval, and then it goes back to council for review.”

Farnell explained that the North Village Associates team received preliminary approval from the council on March 21 with 10 conditions and recommendations. “We made updates based on those conditions and submitted our application package,” he said. “Staff said we were complete with all the items except for two associated with the Water & San District.”

Those items include the following: a feasibility study on whether the water system can handle the development, and that the civil water and sewer plans be reviewed and accepted by the district. 

Farnell explained that the North Village team interpreted those conditions to make sure everything was feasible to move forward with Water & Sanitation. “Typically, we don’t develop full permit level civil plans before we get a PUD approved,” he said. “Right now we’re at about a 50% detailed level on the plans that are adequate for the district to say, yes it’s fine and then you can apply for formal permits.”

However, town staff interpreted the condition differently. “One of the town council preliminary plan approval conditions states that the water and sewer plans will be reviewed and accepted by the MCBWSD (Mt. CB Water and San District) to the final plan submittal,” said planning development director Neal Starkebaum. 

 “They’re reading this requirement very literally,” said Farnell. “The code does not require that, so it doesn’t make sense that we must get a permit before the PUD.”

Farnell also said that staff has asserted that the plan is subject to the town’s subdivision process, which they had previously told him it wasn’t. 

Farnell sent an appeal letter to the town on November 1 officially requesting that the town council overrule the position of town staff regarding the completeness of the application. “While we acknowledge that fully permitted civil plans will be needed before infrastructure and building permits are issued, they are not required at this stage by code,” Farnell stated. “Permitting plans at this stage would inappropriately circumvent town council’s decision-making process.”

Which comes first? The chicken or the plan?

Farnell’s letter explained that the Water & Sanitation District confirmed they won’t accept any application until they have a formal PUD approved. “The MCBWSD memo of 19 September 2023 clearly acknowledges the District has deemed the project ‘feasible’ and ‘capable of being implemented’ as designed,” Farnell stated. “The memo includes a list of conditions necessary for full construction permitting of the project which would occur at building permit and after completion and approval of the PUD Modification process. The District’s position has consistently been that they cannot spend resources on full permit plan review and will not issue any permits until after completion of the PUD process…this request is entirely out of sequence as the District will not process final plan review or issue permits (i.e., ‘approval’), nor will North Village Associates make any land deals to deed over property without an official PUD entitlement.”

Regarding the subdivision requirements, he stated, “Staff has previously determined, multiple times, that the subdivision criteria do not apply to this project. Given the complicated and long history of this property we worked with staff from the outset of the process to confirm that we would be applying for an Amended PUD and Lot Line Adjustment. From the initial stages of our process staff confirmed that if we did not increase the number of lots, which we have not, we would not be subject to subdivision requirements.”

In the appeal letter, Farnell also expressed his frustrations with town during the entire Village at Mt. Crested Butte PUD process. “The review process by the Town has been problematic. We have had to work with three town managers, two town attorneys and four different planners,” he stated. “This has led to significant delays and a lack of continuity in decision-making.”

Starkebaum confirmed that an appeal hearing is scheduled before the town council on December 5 at 6 p.m. “At the hearing, the town council may confirm, reverse, or modify the previous action,” he said.

Farnell hopes the appeal hearing will bring clarity for everyone involved in the project. “We’re complete and ready to go into planning commission review.  It’s not that staff is saying that we can’t move forward, but they’re saying we can’t move forward until we have met the condition. I’m simply asking for clarity of that condition so town staff and the North Village team knows what it is that will be acceptable to allow us to move forward to final plan review.”

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