Marketplace loses a battle, but continues to fight the war |

Marketplace loses a battle, but continues to fight the war

Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker

Carbondale shopping center opponents delivered what they thought was a knock-out blow to Crystal River Marketplace in a special election July 15, only to be smacked with the developer’s counter punch five months later.

The developer, Brian Huster, filed a petition in Garfield County District Court to de-annex his 24-acre parcel from Carbondale on Dec. 8, and have it placed under Garfield County’s jurisdiction.

Huster’s petition raised fears the town would lose millions of dollars in sales taxes if a judge approves the de-annexation, and prompted the Carbondale Board of Trustees to file a motion with the court on Dec. 19 to dismiss the petition.

Garfield County District Court Judge James Boyd has until Feb. 6 to set a hearing date on Huster’s de-annexation petition.

Carbondale residents shot down Crystal River Marketplace 787-601 in a special election held July 15, with nearly half the town’s 2,700 registered voters casting ballots.

Opponents said the Marketplace, with its 252,000 square feet of commercial space on Highway 133, was out of scale with the rest of the town and would create bumper to bumper traffic jams.

“Anybody who has done Highway 82 to Aspen knows what a nightmare to expect,” said Marketplace opponent Laurie Loeb.

Town officials disagreed. “The projection of potential backups may be a little excessive,” said assistant town manager Bentley Henderson.

Residents also questioned Huster’s past.

“The developer hasn’t been really open with what he’s done,” said River Valley Ranch resident Janet Carney.

Other residents didn’t care about Huster’s past, they just wanted a convenient place to shop for new clothing.

“I’m not going to buy my underwear at Miser’s or Wal-Mart,” said Marilyn McWilliams.

Comments from voters as they left election polling places included:

– “The tax revenue base would help the town grow and be a nice little town, rather than a backward town,” said Michele Kister.

– “I don’t think we’re ready for the Marketplace,” said Tripp Sutro. “It’s too big, and for the amount of revenue the town needs, there’s not going to be enough business out there.”

The Marketplace property was annexed into Carbondale in the 1970s when it was part of Colorado Rocky Mountain School. De-annexations are rare in Colorado, so it’s uncertain how the county zoning would be structured for the Marketplace property if Huster’s petition is upheld.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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