Town council approves Village at Mt. CB final plan

Parcel F discussions to shift into higher gear

By Mark Reaman

With the understanding that the owner of the Village at Mt. Crested Butte (formerly the North Village) property will work with the town to discuss future development options for the town-owned Parcel F, the town council on Tuesday gave final approval to the planned unit development (PUD) major alteration application on second reading. The vote was 6-0.

Under the approval, the development team has until August 1 to figure out an easement for a trail that is dependent on water and sewer infrastructure. Once settled, the final plat can be updated. The biggest discussion Tuesday came up when councilmember Roman Kolodziej asked the development team to agree to a few general potential use changes for Parcel F. Under current restrictions both the town and the adjacent property owners have to agree to a change in use, and currently the parcel is basically restricted to open space and/or recreation amenities such as a playing field. Kolodziej emphasized a desire to adjust that to allow affordable housing to be built on the parcel, but he also suggested a possible extension of town hall or a ball field.

The property owner, Dr. Claudio Alvarez, was in Spain during the May 7 meeting but his representatives, Crockett Farnell and Heather Henry, while raising an eyebrow at the last-minute request, assured the council that Alvarez has always been open to working with the town.

“This is very, very late but we have always been willing to work with town on Parcel F,” said Farnell. “I think it’s an unfair request at this point. I think if affordable housing is suggested for the site, you would be better off doing it at the other sites on the other part of the property where infrastructure will go in. But we are willing to look at anything being proposed. But tonight with not anything to react to, we are not ready to agree to that.”

“We started this four years ago and it took a year to get any real traction,” said Kolodziej. “Unfortunately, we weren’t aware of the extent of restrictions on the parcel until a month ago. That’s why I’m suggesting perhaps we can agree to a couple of items for that parcel. Housing is very important to me.”

“We have always demonstrated a willingness to work with town,” responded Farnell. “We worked on such a scenario and spent months doing so. But in a nonprofessional demand the day before we were going to submit the document, the previous town manager Isa (Reeb) told us to take it out. The opportunity to vet that request has come and gone.”

“My concern is that when Dr. Alvarez sells off some of the tracts we will need to get the permission of more property owners and I anticipate some will say they don’t want poor people living in their neighborhood so I am inclined to vote no on this,” said Kolodziej.

“This doesn’t match up with any process I think you’d want to support if you were the landowner at the end of a four-year process,” said Henry. “We will reiterate we are just getting this request tonight, but we’d encourage you to open a new conversation as fast as you want. You would have to go through the PUD major alteration application process. Frankly there is so much state money available for affordable housing but they want it near existing infrastructure and to be shovel ready. This sounds wildly inappropriate.”

“There is nothing to react to,” added Farnell. “Does the town want five units or 500? Do you want to build a high rise? The Alvarez family is very willing to have the conversations. Ask Gerry (Dahl, town attorney) but I would be concerned with the legality of putting this on us at the eleventh hour. We appreciate the request and we are sincere in helping to discuss and possibly help facilitate that goal.”

Dahl said the town would have to go through the PUD alteration process to change its use and it could be in conjunction with the adjoining property owner (or owners). He pointed out that the ordinance approving the PUD included a timeline lag into August to finalize a trail easement and then update the plat. He suggested that time be used to have the conversation over Parcel F. 

Town manager Carlos Velado told council that the original idea was to have the town and Alvarez work together to figure out the best use of Parcel F but Reeb wanted that taken out of any agreement. He reiterated that consent to change the use of the parcel was always needed from the adjacent property owner. “From our recent council conversations, I’m not sure there is a consensus on what you all want on that parcel,” he said.

“That’s why I suggested we agree to a range of choices,” said Kolodziej.

The rest of the council expressed comfort approving the PUD and working with the development team on the best options for Parcel F. 

“I have faith in the applicant so I am comfortable approving it today knowing the conversation can start tomorrow,” said councilmember Steve Morris. “They have always shown good intent.”

“Parcel F is complicated, but we are happy to have the conversations,” said Henry.

Kolodziej stated Alvarez was “a stand-up guy” and he expressed hope the process could result in a good outcome.

The approved PUD allows the 150-acre property at the base of Snodgrass to develop commercial units, residential housing, deed restricted workforce housing, a trail system and a campus and visitor center for the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. 

Council unanimously approved the PUD with conditions by a vote of 6-0 with councilmember Michael Bacani not at the meeting. 

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