Town of Snowmass talks employee housing, future development | AspenTimes.com

Town of Snowmass talks employee housing, future development

Snowmass Village has talked employee housing since at least the '70's — with the inception of the town's housing authority in 1979 — and "in 20 years from now, we'll be sitting here having the same conversation," Mayor Markey Butler said before her fellow council members at a work session Monday.

In the town's most recent study, which Town Manager Clint Kinney and assistant to the town manager Travis Elliot presented to the council Monday, the housing department determined that it would need to add 383 units in order to meet its current goal of housing 60 percent of the employees who work in Snowmass.

Further, the number of qualified buyers to apply for deed-restricted units has significantly increased since 2010 — up from 2.4 applicants per property to 14.7 to date, according to a memorandum from Kinney and Elliot.

While these figures — compiled using a series of data that included the town's most recent (2008) housing demand analysis as well as that of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, Bureau of Labor statistics and more — project "conservative estimates," the memo states, the bottom line remains: Demand is increasing in Snowmass and any added housing will help.

"I think it's safe to say that the demand is climbing. This demonstrates that," Town Attorney John Dresser said. "But it's not like a hard and fast number because it's apples and oranges in the lottery."

Dresser later stated, "My personal opinion is you can build anything and you'll fill it."

Channeling that momentum, Kinney and Elliot presented conceptual plans and renderings for proposed workforce housing developments located next to the rodeo subdivisions. The town owns the majority of the proposed property, while the Horse Ranch Homeowners Association owns a small portion of the land.

Eyeing three lots in the vicinity, the proposed development featured seven duplexes with 14 units and 10 single-family homes for a total of 17 new buildings — 13 of which are on town-owned land — and 24 units and 70 bedrooms.

Kinney made clear on Monday that plans are still conceptual and the town "needs to have a lot of discussion with community members and interested parties."

Nonetheless, and also to the point of addressing some council members' concerns about better understanding Snowmass' demographics and demand, Kinney said the goal is "to get the ball rolling."

Numbers can still be crunched to best determine Snowmass' workforce population and need, Kinney and Dresser pointed out.

Along with soliciting public input on the proposed housing developments, the next step will be to conduct a financial feasibility study, the town manager said Tuesday.

erobbie@aspentimes.com