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North Face land buy complicated by earlier annexation

Lynn Burton

School superintendent Fred Wall says a proposed Roaring Fork Re-1 School District land purchase in Carbondale is the most complicated deal he has seen.

“There are a lot of factors,” said Wall. “There’s an annexation agreement. We’re working with the Carbondale town council to meet their needs, and the needs of the school district.”

The land is the 25-acre North Face property on Highway 133, located just south of the Carbondale fire station and annexed into town in 1998.

One issue being discussed is on-site and off-site improvements the school district will have to fund under terms of the annexation agreement, which the town drafted with the property’s current owner.

“We realize the town shouldn’t be left holding the bag,” said School Board President Robin Garvik. “The town doesn’t have a typical developer to go to,” to pay for improvements.

Carbondale town manager John Hier said he doesn’t yet have a dollar figure for the cost of improvements. They include improvements to Meadowood Drive and Highway 133, open space requirements, trail and utility extensions, and irrigation.

Garvik said the school district already agreed to extend utilities to the property and develop a cost recovery formula to collect from future utility users south of the property.

“The school district won’t ask Carbondale to waive tap fees,” Garvik said.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees will discuss the school district’s property purchase tonight, and the school board will discuss it July 10.

The school district has a contract to purchase the property, which is listed at $5.95 million.

Approximately 40 percent of the funding will come from fees in lieu of land dedications assessed to developers in Carbondale and in unincorporated Garfield County. Garvik said the remaining 60 percent will be paid off through a two-year lease purchase agreement with the property owner.

“Due to the Tabor Amendment, we can’t do long term financing without an okay from the voters,” Garvik said.

Garvik has said the school district doesn’t plan to develop the North Face property for five to 10 years, but is moving on the purchase because the parcel is the last remaining one of its size in Carbondale.

The North Face property purchase is part of a multi-year plan that also could result in a new elementary school in the El Jebel area and a new high school in Glenwood Springs. “To bond, it would make more sense to spread it among all three communities,” Garvik said.

A key part of the North Face proposal calls for the school district to build on-site affordable housing for its employees.

“We need housing before we need a school,” Garvik said.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees approved a zoning change to allow for schools and housing on the North Face property last week. But the change is contingent on the town and school district agreeing to changes in the annexation agreement.


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