Got density? Basalt project testing council’s vows
January 26, 2007
BASALT Basalt officials proclaimed last month they want higher densities for projects in town rather than sprawl. Developers aren’t wasting time to test that theory.This winter, the Basalt town government is reviewing three projects that seek approval for high-density housing.The biggest test case among the three will be the Basalt Design District. The project by Clay Crossland, Paul Adams and Michael Lipkin is on vacant land south of Big O Tires, en route to Basalt High School.The developers proposed 80,000 square feet of mini-storage space, 70,000 square feet of light industrial businesses, 20,000 square feet of offices and 40 residences. They also are donating 1.35 acres of land to the town government for development of affordable housing for teachers.The only red flag raised in a memo by the Basalt planning staff was over the 40 residential units, which are 33 percent greater than contemplated on the site by the town’s land use master plan.A proposed update to the town’s 1999 master plan calls for a maximum of 30 residential units within the development, according to James Lindt, a Basalt town planner.While the council has flexibility on approving a density greater than the master plan recommendation, Lindt advised reducing the number of units will “reinforce that this site is primarily intended for light industrial development.”Basalt Councilman Chris Seldin said he could support the greater density – if the master plan allows it – as long as it helps the town reach goals such as providing affordable housing.Density is one of the issues Lindt asked the council and planning commission to focus on during the review of the project later this winter.Density is emerging as an issue on two other projects:The Stott’s Mill project, a short distance east of the Basalt Design Center property, proposes 100 residential units on 18 acres.A prior proposal for the site faced widespread opposition from neighbors and council members because it was too dense, so the owners reduced the number of units. Now, some current council members are pressing for greater density than 100 units because they want deed-restricted affordable housing to be part of the project.The master plan allows a density of 100 units or greater for Stott’s Mill. The bigger debate is whether the council and developer can reach an agreement on how dense is dense enough.The owners of the Jadwin property are seeking approval for 83 residential units on 8.5 acres east of the Basalt Sanitation Department’s wastewater treatment plant just off Highway 82. The proposal features 46 apartments/condominiums, 21 townhouses and 16 deed-restricted affordable units.Lindt said the master plan update contemplates high-density and medium-density housing on different parts of the property. Therefore, a range of 45 to 78 units is envisioned by the master plan, he said.None of the three projects are considered sprawl by town officials. The Basalt Design Center, Stott’s Mill and Jadwin all require annexation into the town. All are within Basalt’s urban growth boundary, or the area designated in the 1999 master plan as appropriate for growth.Public hearings on all three projects will be later this year.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.