Transit-oriented development in Basalt earns initial nod from council
The Aspen Times
OTHER COUNCIL ACTION
Following are other steps taken by the Basalt Town Council on Tuesdays.
• The first of two approvals was granted for a medical marijuana facility at 175 Midland Ave., unit 10. Owners Justin Streeb and Kale Lacroux received full approvals from the town in 2017 but they were unable to proceed with opening because of what Lacroux called a “clerical miss” with state requirements that retailers be aligned with a specific producer. The state is changing the requirement this year. He said they now have a “pipeline of products” lined up for delivery and sale. The council voted 4-0 for approval with Jennifer Riffle abstaining.
• The council decided they don’t want to reinvent the wheel when it comes to entry signs to the town. The Basalt Chamber Sign Committee was seeking approval of up to $8,000 for a request for proposals for design of signs at the east and west ends of east Basalt. The council members said they would rather see if the sign committee could talk to Nick Aceto to see if his design of two existing signs could be tailored for the two new signs. If so, the work would have to be done for less than $5,000, the trigger point for a request for proposals. The council unanimously agreed it likes the design Aceto came up with for the signs at the roundabout on Basalt Avenue and at the entrance to Southside. They want to stick with that design.
Basalt Town Council on Tuesday granted the first of two approvals needed for a building that will mix two industrial spaces and eight apartments, calling it a “perfect” example of transit-oriented development.
The first-round approval came despite the objections of some neighboring property owners.
Patrick Keelty wants to build a three-story building that would feature two “bookend” light industrial spaces of 3,985 square feet on the ground floor, and four one-bedroom apartments on both the second and third stories. Keelty is required to place affordable-housing deed restrictions on 25 percent of the units, per the town’s land-use code, but he voluntarily wants to deed restrict 50 percent or four units. The other four were characterized as “attainable housing.” All the apartments will be just shy of 790 square feet, according to Keelty’s architect, Glenn Rappaport.
Rappaport said it was important to note that Keelty isn’t seeking a subsidy for the housing.
The proposal was supported at first reading by all five of the council members present. Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt called the housing “true transit-oriented development” because a major bus stop is basically on the project’s doorstop.
The project is proposed at 525 Basalt Ave. The site is between the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s overflow lot at the Basalt Park and Ride and Myers & Co. Architectural Metals plant and work yard. The bus stop is roughly a city block away.
Five owners of existing light industrial businesses or vacant lots zoned for light industrial use objected to the housing. Business owner Stefan Isberian said the noise in the area makes it unsuitable for residences.
“There are plenty of areas that could house residential,” he said. “We want to keep our industrial park industrial.”
Letters from other adjacent property owners endorsed the project. They included Myers & Co. owner Mark Blodgett. He just requested that apartment tenants should be notified prior to leasing space that the site is in an industrial zone.
Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said he “understands” that some neighbors have issues.
“This is a struggle because this is as good of a transit-oriented development as you can get,” he said.
Tennenbaum said he doesn’t believe future residents will create a fuss over the setting. “What are they going to do — come into the town and make us stop industrial use? No,” he said.
Councilman Bill Infante said he didn’t believe there would be a conflict between residents and surrounding businesses. By the time workers get started, residents will likely have left for the commute to their jobs, he said. When commuters get back home, work will be over or winding down, he continued.
Basalt’s land-use code prohibits residences with children in an industrial zone. Rappaport said that means it will be single-occupant households or couples without children.
Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle voiced the only council concerns about the project. She wanted more industrial uses and fewer residences. She wanted to provide the housing for residents with lower incomes than contemplated.
Councilman Auden Schendler countered there is a “ridiculous” demand for housing and not so much for industrial in that area. He labeled the proposal a good compromise.
“I would say we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Schendler said.
The council voted 5-0 for approval of the first reading. The project must go through a public hearing and second reading at a later date.
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