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January 10, 2013
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Framework created to review Basalt development

BASALT - Nine months after an application was submitted for the redevelopment of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park in Basalt, the developer and Town Council have agreed on a new framework that will be used for review.

And now that the starting blocks have been set, both sides hope the project flies around the track, with a goal of completing the review in six to nine months, officials said at a council meeting Tuesday night.

The first, time-consuming step was one designed to lead to an expedited review. Roaring Fork Community Development Corp., the nonprofit owner of the mobile-home park, applied in April to redevelop the property, and it proposed creating a new zone district for purposes of review.

The council voted 7-0, in a second reading Tuesday, to establish the Community Serving Commercial Zone District and apply it to the Pan and Fork site and possibly other sites in Basalt.

The zoning simplifies the review and removes some restrictions - as long as the developer is a nonprofit organization that can demonstrate its project will provide a "landing ground for nonprofits and commercial uses that provide vitality to the community," according to a memo prepared by the town planning staff. "The new zone district will foster high-quality development scenarios from nonprofit entities that wish to further Basalt's community interests."

One key provision of the new zoning is that it allows Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. flexibility in proposing larger buildings than the code previously allowed.

"The scale and character of development authorized in this zone district may allow buildings that are larger and more multifaceted than areas zoned C-2 (Downtown Business) or P (Public)," the approved ordinance says. "The zone district offers certain incentives to encourage qualifying nonprofit organizations to create projects that might not occur through pure free-market development. These incentives include reductions in certain mitigation standards and a review process that is better tailored to nonprofit applicants."

To qualify for the zoning, a development site must be 1 acre in size or, if smaller, adjacent to an area already zoned Community Serving Commercial. In addition, there are specific definitions of "community serving" commercial projects.

One criterion is that 70 percent of the proposed square footage of the project must be dedicated to uses such as affordable housing, community meetings rooms, a performing-arts center, educational facilities or specific commercial uses deemed to benefit the town.

Another possible criterion is that 30 percent of the project must be devoted to governmental or nonprofit uses, the new zoning provisions say.

If a proposal qualifies, it would reap benefits in the review process. A project can be as tall as four stories and 45 feet for a hotel, which the Pan and Fork development team is proposing. All other buildings are limited to three stories and 38 feet tall.

Currently, the standard commercial zoning allows for heights of 38 feet only by special review.

The review process is reduced to two steps from the usual three. In addition, the project will be exempt from Basalt's Community Priority Scoring System, a procedure designed to pace growth. The need for that process has been questioned since the Great Recession all but snuffed development in Basalt. Willits Town Center has recently showed signs of life with Whole Foods Market opening and other tenants signing leases. A new building is under construction there.

Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. purchased the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park in 2011. It has a contract to sell most of its 2.3 acres to Realty Capital Management, a Texas firm whose principal, Richard Myers, has ties to the Roaring Fork Valley.

Myers told the council in October that he aims to enlist a partner to build a 120-room Hyatt Place hotel as well as about 15,000 square feet of commercial space. Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. aims to build a nonprofit campus on the remaining property.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 10, 2013 07:04AM Published Jan 10, 2013 01:59AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.