113-unit housing project approved by Basalt; teacher housing gains ground | AspenTimes.com

113-unit housing project approved by Basalt; teacher housing gains ground

Two developments that would combine to provide 52 deed-restricted affordable-housing units and 88 free-market units priced to be attainable by some working families gained ground in Basalt on Tuesday night.

It was back to the future for the Stott's Mill project when the council voted 5-0 to reinstate approvals initially granted in 2009. The project lost momentum during the Great Recession and was never built. It was resurrected with 156 units earlier this year but didn't earn council approval. Developer Briston Peterson and his partners in MSP 1 LLC returned with a plan for 113 units and got the green light.

Seven people in the audience spoke in favor of the project and it was apparent more people attending the meeting supported it. Summer Berg said she felt the addition of 113 residences would be good for Basalt businesses.

"I just feel that Basalt needs a little bit more energy," Berg said.

She said she disagrees with the attitude of some people who want to deny new projects and try to prevent growth.

"We shouldn't be shutting our doors to them and saying 'stay out,'" she said.

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Peterson said he hopes to break ground on the project next spring, assuming the economy stays strong and the market remains for the housing.

Stott's Mill is located on 18 acres north of Basalt High School on the east side of Southside Drive. The project includes as many as 25 deed-restricted affordable-housing units and 88 free-market homes. The plan is for 43 of the 88 free-market units to be multi-family rentals. The remaining units will be single-family home lots that the developers say will remain attainable because of their small size. Peterson said the team is aiming for some homes that would sell for about $500,000.

The exact amount of deed-restricted housing is yet to be determined. Either the developers will build three units for sale exclusively to the Roaring Fork School District or it will provide $422,000 cash-in-lieu of the units.

Neighborhood opposition to the project faded when Peterson and his partners pared the project down from 156 units to 113.

The council also voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve a first reading for the Basalt Vista project, a collaboration between Habitat For Humanity Roaring Fork, the downvalley school district and Pitkin County. Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle were not at the meeting.

The project proposes 27 units on property directly south of Basalt High School. Fifteen of the units would be sold to teachers in the downvalley district. The remaining 12 would be sold for qualified employees of Pitkin County.

The school district is providing the land. Pitkin County is contributing $2.75 million. Habitat for Humanity is planning to cover the gap between the cost of the project and the amount raised by sales and its partners' contributions. As it stands, that gap is estimated at $1.87 million. However, that requires a waiver of about $480,000 in fees by the town government.

Habitat for Humanity is asking the town to waive $317,202 in parkland dedication fees, $121,959 in water tap fees and $40,742 in special improvement fees.

It would still pay for building permits and transportation fees.

"There's the core benefit of 27 units of affordable housing for the community," said Dana Dalla Betta, a planner with Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork.

Scott Gilbert, president of the Habitat chapter, said the nonprofit is willing to subsidize a portion of the project because it is important to provide housing for teachers. However, Habitat is hoping to minimize its subsidy by recruiting Basalt as a contributor.

"This is an unusual project that may not be done again," Gilbert said, referring to the partnership pursuing the residences.

The council deferred a decision on the waiver request until a second reading of the approval in October. However, the board was divided. Council members Bernie Grauer, Katie Schwoerer and Mark Kittle weren't sold, at least not yet, on waiving the entire $480,000.

Grauer said the town is facing a lot of demands on its limited dollars. Kittle balked at waiving the entire water tap fee.

Councilmen Auden Schendler and Gary Tennenbaum made the case for the fee waivers.

"I see this as an investment in public education," Schendler said.

He said adding critical affordable housing comes at a price.

"It's painful to get affordable housing built," he said.

Tennenbaum said the town contributes to affordable-housing projects in a variety of ways, and he felt it was worth the investment in Basalt Vista to help with stability in the school district.

"Keeping these teachers is so critical to our kids," he said.

The council wants to examine a financial impact study by its consultant prior to the second reading of the approval.

scondon@aspentimes.com

MARIJUANA BIZ APPROVED

A medical marijuana facility received a green light Tuesday to open on Midland Avenue in Basalt.

The Town Council voted 4-0 with one abstention to grant approval for the medical marijuana center to Down Valley HYH LLC, a company owned by Justin Streeb and Kale Lacroux. They plan to open their facility in property they own at 175 Midland Ave.

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