Carbondale P&Z approves school district housing |

Carbondale P&Z approves school district housing

Ryan Summerlin
The footprint of the Roaring Fork School District's proposed employee housing project in Carbondale shows four different buildings on Third Street that would hold 20 units total.

Carbondale’s planning commission has unanimously approved steps toward a Roaring Fork School District employee housing plan, but the final shape of the project is still unknown.

Technically, the school district didn’t have to get town approval or a rezoning for its project, said Janet Buck, Carbondale senior planner. The school district is basically at the state level of government, which overrules local government, she said.

Nevertheless, the school district wanted to comply with the town’s new Unified Development Code, so it voluntarily complied, without any variances, and is going through Carbondale’s land use process.

RFSD is expecting to get a cost estimate for this project in the next couple of weeks. “So we can’t tell yet whether we’re going to be able to build the whole thing yet,” said Bob Schultz, a consultant on the project.

“The budget is $5 million. So we’ll build whatever we can with $5 million,” he said.

The school district plans to build 20 rental units for employees. Buck said this goal is aligned with the Board of Trustees placing a high priority on increased affordable housing units.

Four buildings, at a total 33,000 square feet, are proposed with a mix of unit types: six two-bedroom townhouses, two three-bedroom townhouses, six one-bedroom flats, two two-bedroom flats and four three-bedroom flats.

These buildings would go on the eastern part of the Bridges High School property on Third Street.

The plans for these two-story, Third Street-facing buildings also include a central green space between the buildings. Two of the buildings are also designed to support solar arrays.

The school district hasn’t yet set prices for the rental units but has a committee of staffers working on guidelines that will cover all the RFSD’s employee housing projects, said Schultz.

Those guidelines could take until May or June to be completed.

While the school district gets to write its own employee housing guidelines, if it tried to subdivide or sell the property, it would then have to comply with Carbondale’s affordable housing guidelines, said Schultz.

Gavin Brooke, a planning commissioner, asked the town’s attorney to work on language in the approval conditions that would require the school district to comply with community housing requirements should the school district no longer use it as employee housing.

A bus barn currently sits on this parcel, which is zoned “open space and high density” and is covered by the Community Partnership planned unit development. This proposal would change the zoning of the 1.37-acre parcel on Third Street to “residential/high density.”

The rezoning would provide a high-density neighborhood near the downtown and commercial area in compliance with the town’s comprehensive plan, said Buck.

If this plan comes to fruition, some Third Street Center parking, which is actually on school district property, may also have to be relocated. The project also includes street improvements and the extension of water and sewer lines.

This project is just part of the school district’s employee housing plans, with projects in the works in Glenwood Springs and Basalt as well. The projects were included in a $122 million bond passed by voters in 2015.

Schultz said this was the right location, time and process for school district staff housing.

A big benefit of this location would be the residents’ ability to bike or walk to work.

The proposed development raises the bar for design in the neighborhood, said Buck.

Three out of four buildings are expected to be constructed this summer.

The project will go before trustees April 25.

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