Thompson Park annexation one vote short of denial
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Although the Thompson Park annexation won preliminary approval from the Carbondale town board more than a year ago, town planners are now recommending the proposal be denied.
During the Tuesday evening meeting, however, enough trustees were still willing to keep the door open to a concept for residential development of the property to grant the proposal another continuance to Feb. 22.
This could be do-or-die for the proposal, which carries with it the promised dedication of the 123-year-old Thompson family house as a public museum and park.
The annexation request involves a group of “county island” properties encompassing about 10 acres, situated along Highway 133 just north of River Valley Ranch.
Developer Frieda Wallison of Old Snowmass had asked the town of Carbondale to annex the area, along with rights to build up to 80 multi- and single-family houses.
In December 2009, town trustees voted 6-0 in favor of the concept, mostly driven by public support for historic preservation of the house.
The house was one of the first constructed in the Carbondale area by homesteader Myron Thompson in the late 1880s, and is owned by members of the Thompson family who still live in the area.
Wallison proposed to dedicate the house and an acre of land surrounding it to either the town or the Mount Sopris Historical Society to be used as a museum. The family has already dedicated the contents of the house to the historical society.
After the initial vote of approval, trustees directed town staff to work with the developer and the historical society to figure out the details of the annexation agreement.
But the process bogged down over concerns about traffic impacts, site design details and the amount of open space included in the proposal.
The last public hearing before the trustees was in July 2010. Since then, the proposal has changed enough that town planner Janet Buck said it should go back to the town’s planning and zoning commission.
“I think there is overall agreement that this is an infill project at the center of town, which ultimately should be annexed and developed,” Buck wrote. “My recommendation is that the Thompson Park annexation be denied and brought back at the time that residential development is to proceed, together with a site-specific plan.”
Given the current economic realities, Wallison said she would be willing to lower the number of allowed units in the current plan to 30.
“This would bring it down to the town’s medium-density criteria, and I believe satisfy some of the concerns,” she said.
Trustee Elizabeth Murphy made a motion to deny the annexation. It failed on a 3-3 vote, with Trustee Frosty Merriott absent. Trustees then voted to continue the public hearing until Feb. 22.
Wallison may present an updated site plan indicating fewer residential units, but said at the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting she would need to decide how to proceed.
Trustee John Foulkrod, meanwhile, was frustrated that the review process had gotten so bogged down by details.
“I don’t think this board knows what it’s doing with land-use and development,” he said in support of continuing the Thompson Park request. “The system is broken.
“This applicant has put in a lot of time and effort, and I’d hate to see it go down the drain,” he added. “I’m not sure 30 units would be better or worse, but I’d at least like to see what it looks like.”
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