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Carbondale moves toward its final decision on commercial project

CARBONDALE, Colorado – The long-debated and heavily negotiated Village at Crystal River grocery store and mixed-used development, in the planning review process now for the better part of four years, could be headed toward a final town board vote in October.

Following a continued public hearing on the proposal Tuesday night, the Carbondale Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to have staff prepare the necessary legal documents that, if approved, would clear the way for the project to proceed.

The 24-acre development site on the west side of Highway 133 and north of Main Street is proposed to include up to 125,000 square feet of commercial space, including a new 58,000-square-foot City Market grocery story.



It would also have 15,000 square feet of office space and potentially up to 164 residential units, spread out over seven phases to be carried out over 15 years. That would be according to a tentative phasing and vested zoning rights agreement arrived at by town trustees and developer Rich Schierburg Tuesday.

The plan calls for at least the grocery store portion of the project, related infrastructure and Highway 133 improvements to be completed within three years. If not, the property could revert to its underlying zoning.



“This is a monumental point in this process,” Carbondale Mayor Stacey Bernot said at the conclusion of the meeting. “I believe we’re at the point where we can get to a final decision.”

The formal public hearing, however, was kept open and continued to Oct. 4 when the so-called “complete package” of project details and related conditions of approval will be reviewed.

And, the move to have approval documents drafted does not guarantee ultimate approval of the project when the question is called.

One vote was missing Tuesday night with the absence of Trustee Frosty Merriott from the meeting. He and other board members have continued to express concerns about different aspects of the proposal.

“It seems like we’ve wasted four years putting together a plan that’s not really a plan,” Trustee John Hoffmann said during a moment of frustration at Tuesday’s meeting related to the open-ended nature of parts of the development proposal.

In particular, he was referring to the middle section of the development site where zoning is flexible to allow for either commercial or additional residential development, depending on market demands at the time that phase is built.

“The flexibility is the greatest thing about this plan,” Schierburg said. “It allows me to market the project to as many different users as possible, and try to bring some economic development to this town.”

Town planners had asked that a park be included in the project and that it be built in the first phase. But until he knows how many residential units are to be built, Schierburg said it doesn’t make sense to build the park just yet.

“It becomes a disincentive for me to go out and try to get commercial users,” he said. “I shouldn’t be burdened with things in phase one that aren’t relevant to phase one.”

Timing of the park development is one of the remaining issues to be hashed out when the public hearing continues in October.

“There are clearly some blanks to fill in,” town attorney Mark Hamilton said of the process at this point. “But we can begin to put pen to paper and see what it looks like.”

jstroud@postindependent.com


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