Survey: Basalt divided over growth
BASALT Residents of booming Basalt are divided on how to deal with growth, and they won’t provide any clear-cut answers for officials trying to set policy this summer, a survey the town released Monday shows.Almost 27 percent of respondents to a town survey said they want to contain growth within the existing growth boundary – an area deemed appropriate for growth. Imagine that growth boundary as an invisible line around town that defines where growth can occur.But significant minorities cloud the picture. Twenty-three percent of respondents would allow “small adjustments” to the growth boundary. However, the survey doesn’t define what that means.Two factions advocated major change from the current growth boundary. Almost 23 percent of respondents want to expand the grow boundary “to include additional adjacent and nearby rural areas.”On the other extreme, 21 percent favor shrinking the growth boundary “to something closer to the developed areas of town.”Interpretation of the results might be in the eyes of the beholder.”It’s a dead heat,” said Basalt Town Manager Bill Efting. “It reinforces that it’s an issue where it’s down the middle.”That will make life interesting for Basalt Town Council members and the planning commission Wednesday night. They are scheduled to tell their staff and consultants where they want the town’s urban growth boundary drawn.It’s a multimillion-dollar decision. Developers of proposed projects on Basalt’s fringe desperately want to be inside the urban growth boundary. Those that remain outside the boundary stand little chance of getting annexed and approved for development within Basalt, at least not by the current council.In many cases, the proposed projects are currently in Pitkin County, which has strict growth-control regulations.The Roaring Fork Club’s expansion of its golf community and David Fiore’s affordable housing project are two prime examples of proposals that hope for the expansion of the growth boundary to include them. Applications for both projects were withdrawn in 2006 until the council and Basalt citizens decided what to with the growth boundary.To conduct the survey, Venturoni Surveys & Research Inc. started in January by sending letters urging all registered voters in Basalt to go to a Web page and register to participate in an Internet survey. Those without Internet access were urged to contact Town Hall for a paper copy.Of the 2,107 voters, 206 ultimately became the registered sample. Of them, 147, or about 7 percent of registered voters, responded to the survey. Linda Venturoni, principal of the survey company, wasn’t available Monday to comment on whether she was pleased with the sample size. “The survey has a margin of error of 7.78 percent at the 95 percent confidence level,” the report saidRespondents were given the opportunity to write explanations of their survey answers. A supporter of expanding the urban growth boundary wrote, “I’d rather we build out instead of up, to keep the mountain views.”A respondent in support of shrinking the growth boundary wrote, “Where does it end? The town needs to consider ramification of natural resources, such as water. If people want convenience and speed, tell them to go back to Texas and New York.”A respondent who supported “small adjustments” to the plan wrote in favor of allowing the Roaring Fork Club to expand “so we have a known entity there.” That perhaps showed the flaw in allowing an ambiguous answer like “small adjustments,” which could be different things for different people.Finally, a respondent in favor of keeping the current boundaries warned against trying to please developers. “The town will never meet all of the demand it faces. If the town tries to satisfy all of that demand it will destroy itself.”The Town Council and planning commission are scheduled to meet at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Eagle County building in El Jebel. The boards aren’t scheduled to take public comment, although the public is welcome to attend.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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