1,000 residences planned along Highway 82 | AspenTimes.com

1,000 residences planned along Highway 82

The downvalley development industry has bounced back from the recession — in a big way.

More than 1,000 residential units and 350,000 square feet of commercial space have either been approved and are nearing construction or, as is more often the case, under review by various governments. Those numbers are for just the projects in or near the Highway 82 corridor from Basalt to south of Glenwood Springs (see related fact box).

Basalt has three major projects under review, including the fate of the Pan and Fork site near downtown. No specific development proposal has been submitted, but the Town Council is considering a master plan for as much as 75,000 square feet of residential and commercial space.

The Stott's Mill project was approved for 100 residences prior to the recession, but wasn't constructed. It has been resurrected and revised upward to 164 units.

Willits Town Center broke ground this fall on 50 affordable-housing units. The owner and developer of the village core in West Basalt also has applied to add 91,000 square feet of commercial and residential space to the project. The review is just starting.

Elsewhere in the midvalley, Eagle County has started the review of a major commercial and residential project and is preparing to start review of a separate residential project.

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The Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission voted 6-0 last month to recommend denial of Ace Lane's proposal for up to 400 residences and 135,000 square feet of commercial space. However, the vote is just advisory, and Lane's team said he will take the project, called the Tree Farm, to the Eagle County Commissioners for the next step of the review. No hearing is scheduled yet.

The planning commission will start review of a 98-unit residential project called The Fields on Dec. 3. That project is proposed on a ranch on the south side of Highway 82, across from Blue Lake subdivision.

During public hearings for the Tree Farm, a top concern expressed by opponents was adding traffic to already congested roads. A Blue Lake resident who commutes every weekday between El Jebel and Aspen said it has recently taken her longer to travel the 2 miles from the intersection of Two Rivers Road and Highway 82 to El Jebel than it takes to negotiate the S-curves in Aspen while departing in the late afternoon. The S-curves are a notorious bottleneck.

Cathy Click, a civic activist from Basalt, has asked Eagle County to declare a moratorium on further project reviews to fix what she claims is a procedural flaw.

Click said more interaction is needed between applicants, county officials and the public. She said she attended all but one of the eight meetings on the Tree Farm and witnessed the same procedure time and again — the public listens for two or three hours to get the chance to comment for no more than three minutes.

"There's no give and take," Click said. "They don't answer your questions."

The same procedure will be repeated when the county commissioners start their review, she said.

Click proposed a process where concerned citizens, an applicant and county officials can discuss what best serves the midvalley prior to a proposal being submitted. It would be more effective for all parties, she said, and it wouldn't pit the public against a developer.

"I'm sort of sensitive to saying 'no' all the time," she said.

Click said she realizes numerous projects are already in the pipeline. She wants a moratorium declared before Eagle County receives 15 more applications.

Click shared her ideas with county commissioners and the Eagle County planning staff and received cordial replies, she said. There are hurdles. State law outlines the legal procedure for public hearings on land use matters.

Further downvalley in Garfield County, several additional developments are on the books. The largest of the proposed projects is River Edge, across Highway 82 from Cattle Creek Road, which earned approvals in December 2011 for 366 residences and 30,000 square feet of public, quasi-public and commercial space. The developers never started construction. They will go before the Garfield County Planning Commission on Jan. 13 with an amended request.

scondon@aspentimes.com

BY THE NUMBERS

Projects in the review pipeline or already approved in various midvalley government jurisdictions on or near the Highway 82 corridor:

* Pan and Fork site in Basalt. No formal proposal. The Town Council is contemplating a master plan with between 35,000 and 75,000 square feet of development. No decision imminent.

* Stott’s Mill housing project in Basalt, near the high school. The applicants’ approval for 100 housing units expired during the recession. They resurrected the plan and expanded it to 164 units, including 25 percent deed-restricted affordable housing. The town government is starting the review.

* Willits Town Center in Basalt. The Willits owner, Mariner Real Estate Investment, is seeking approval for an additional 91,000 square feet of development. That breaks down to 59,000 square feet of additional commercial space and 32,000 square feet of additional residential space. The town planning staff has started the review.

* Tree Farm project in the El Jebel area. Ace Lane and his Woody Ventures LLC is seeking approval for up to 400 residences and 135,000 square feet of commercial space. The Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission voted 6-0 last month to recommend denial. Lane’s team said he wants to proceed to the Eagle County Commissioners, who have final say on the project.

* The Fields residential project, across Highway 82 from Blue Lake. The applicants are seeking approval for 98 single-family homes and multi-family units. They said they would comply with affordable housing rules. The planning commission is scheduled to begin its review Dec. 3.

* River Edge project across Highway 82 from Cattle Creek Road, between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The developers received approval in December 2011 for 362 residences and 30,000 square feet of public, quasi-public and commercial uses. The project is located where the old Sander’s Ranch project was proposed. A revised proposal was submitted and will be heard by the Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission Jan. 13.

* The GCCI commercial project, adjacent to River Edge. The developer wants to change zoning from residential suburban to commercial for an unspecified amount of development. The planning commission will review the request Jan. 13.

* Buffalo Valley Apartments at the intersection of Highway 82 and County Road 154. The project was approved for 54 units.

* FedEx warehouse and distribution center near the intersection of Highway 82 and County Road 154. Work has started on the 27,000 square foot structure.

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