Local preference sought for Re-1 teacher housing plan
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Town trustees want some assurance that Carbondale school teachers and staff will be given priority for units in the Roaring Fork School District Re-1’s proposed affordable teacher housing project.
“I would like to see some caveat for Carbondale school employees in this,” Trustee Stacey Patch Bernot said during a continued public hearing on the proposed 120-unit CES Partnership Village proposal Tuesday night.
“I think our teachers and our staff need to have a leg up,” she said.
Giving priority to Carbondale-based school district staff may be a way to make up for the extra traffic and other community impacts that Carbondale is being asked to bear on behalf of the larger school district, which also includes schools in Glenwood Springs and Basalt.
A majority of the trustees agreed, especially as the town is being asked to waive some or all traffic impact fees associated with the development proposal.
“What I don’t want to see is 120 people getting in their cars every morning to drive to Basalt or Glenwood, and come back at night,” Trustee John Foulkrod said. “That’s not what this is about.”
Trustee Ed Cortez said he would also support a priority for district employees at Carbondale schools, though he would prefer to limit it to a certain number of units.
The Carbondale board voted 6-1 directing town staff to prepare final documents for approval of a proposed amendment to the previously approved planned unit development (PUD), which established zoning for the project.
The PUD amendment would increase the total number of dwelling units allowed on about 11 acres of the former Carbondale elementary/middle school campus from 89 to 120.
Eighty percent of the units are proposed to be put into the community housing program and offered at below-market prices or rents, with priority going to teachers and other school district staff, as well as other qualified public-sector employees.
However, two outstanding issues remain to be negotiated, including the Carbondale preference and impact fees, or exactions, to help pay for off-site traffic mitigation in the form of a proposed $1.5 million roundabout at Highway 133 and Weant Boulevard.
Town staff has recommended a traffic impact fee of $4,757 for each of the five proposed single-family dwellings in the teacher housing project, and $2,920 for each of the 115 multi-family dwellings, for a total of $359,585. Other nearby housing developments, including the Thompson Park project, would also be asked to pay a similar fee.
However, trustees could agree to waive a portion or all of those fees as a way of becoming a “financial partner” in the housing project.
Mayor Michael Hassig said it’s unreasonable to ask the school district to come up with traffic impact fees for a project that intends to provide 80 percent of the units as community housing.
“This project alone doesn’t trigger the need for these improvements,” he said. “It’s all the background growth and through traffic that’s driving this, and I’m struggling with asking them to pay for improvements that may not be necessary for 20 years, if ever.”
Trustee Pam Zentmyer, who voted against proceeding to documents of approval given the number of unanswered questions, said the impacts of 120 new houses can’t be overlooked.
“To talk about waiving fees seems irrational to me,” she said.
Regarding the suggestion to give priority to Carbondale teachers and staff, Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said she couldn’t commit to that until discussing it with the school board, which meets Feb. 24.
The public hearing on the teacher housing proposal was continued until March 9.
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