Jeanne McGovern

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October 14, 2009
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Snowmass, schools narrow in on housing agreement

It appears the Snowmass Town Council and Aspen School District are close to being on the same page with regard to deed restrictions for the district's proposed 15-unit housing project on Owl Creek Road.

The Snowmass Town Council on Tuesday night discussed the issue and directed town staff to draft a revised Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and Declaration of Covenants for the property to be voted on at Monday's council meeting. The School District will also discuss and approve that document at its Monday meeting.

"The concepts being used in this new agreement are those that were discussed by the two groups at Monday's meeting," said Snowmass Town Manager Russ Forrest, referring to a meeting where the two sides agreed to compromise on the permanency of a deed restriction on the property.

Among the points addressed in the new IGA and covenants, which should be available for public review Friday, is that the property be limited to employee housing and/or legitimate school district uses. Within this framework, it allows for some flexibility for selling a unit to a district employee and for selling a unit to a non-district employee under affordable housing guidelines.

Perhaps most important to town officials, however, is what happens to the property should the district sell it on the free market.

"If it were to be sold to the private sector, the property would really have no approved occupancy and the new property owner would have to go through the town's process and would be subject to standard land-use regulations and mitigation," explained Forrest.

This is a compromise the School District seems ready to accept, according to school board president Charla Belinksi.

"It is not - and never was - our intent to sell the property," she said. "But by placing a permanent deed restriction on the property, we all know it would have lessened its value. And we have a fiduciary responsibility to future school boards to ensure the property's value."

And though district officials had yet to see the final proposed IGA, Belinksi believes the two entities "are definitely headed in the right direction."

If the respective boards approve the revised IGA on Monday, the Snowmass Planning Commission will review the project Oct. 21 and the local review process should be complete by the end of November. The school district is hoping to have the housing ready by next fall.

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The Aspen Times Updated Oct 16, 2009 05:13PM Published Oct 14, 2009 06:19PM Copyright 2009 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.