Carbondale trustee candidates discuss commercial building caps, taxes |

Carbondale trustee candidates discuss commercial building caps, taxes

Gina Guarascio
Carbondale correspondent

CARBONDALE ” Election issues for prospective Carbondale town council candidates seem to boil down to: do you favor a hard cap on commercial building sizes? And, are you in favor of raising taxes?

Questions from the audience and comments from the candidates themselves kept coming back around to those issues at a Thursday night candidates forum. But the night did bring a number of other issues, such as historic preservation and the role of non-profits, into the debate.

The question of allowing a big box may sound familiar to anyone who’s followed Carbondale politics since developers of the Crystal River Marketplace proposed putting a big-box retailer on their 24-acre site several years ago.

Four candidates are running for three trustee seats. John Foulkrod, Stacey Patch Bernot and Scott Chaplin are the incumbents, and Barry Maggert is challenging. Who Maggert believes he is challenging also became clear, as he consistently referred to his “opponent” as Chaplin.

Chaplin is the only trustee to maintain that imposing a hard cap of 60,000 square feet on buildings is a good idea. The hard cap is a recommendation of Carbondale’s Economic Roadmap Group, a committee of local citizens who were brought together after a referendum succeeded in derailing the Marketplace proposal in July 2003.

Carbondale has been in negotiations with Marketplace developers to try to come up with some kind of development option that works for both sides.

For the most part, Foulkrod, Bernot and Maggert seemed aligned in their answers to questions about Carbondale’s future. But asked if they were running as a slate, the answer was vague.

“We’re a Libertarian, a Democrat and a Republican,” said Maggert of himself, Foulkrod and Bernot. “It’s clear tonight we agree on a lot of economic issues.”

Maggert is an outspoken Libertarian who is opposed to government involvement in much more than what he calls the basics, which he lists as roads, utilities and police.

Chaplin, on the other hand, supports town involvement in everything from affordable housing and environmental issues to creating a non-profit incubator center.

In the mayoral race, trustee Russ Criswell is challenging Mayor Michael Hassig. Both men are passionate about their desire to lead Carbondale into the future, and much of their general policy sounds the same. The big difference between the candidates is that Criswell championed a majority on council to forward the idea of imposing a building size cap onto the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission in February. Hassig voted against it.

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