110-unit Basalt project creeps toward approval | AspenTimes.com

110-unit Basalt project creeps toward approval

BASALT – Governments are not often thanked for dragging their feet on development reviews, but a Basalt developer said this week his group probably benefited from being in the town’s process for so long.

The Stott’s Mill project has been reviewed by Basalt officials for about three years. Under different circumstances, the project might have gotten approved and started construction prior to September 2008, then stalled when the recession brought the banking and lending industry to its knees.

So “this process might have saved us from something,” Briston Peterson, representative of the MSP Development Group, told the Basalt Town Council in the latest review of the project this week.

Just the same, Peterson and his partners would like to secure the third and final approval from the council and get in position to build. The council looked favorably at the project and indicated it needs another meeting or two to finalize details. Stott’s Mill proposes 110 residences on land just north of Basalt High School. Most of the project would be deed-restricted housing for local residents: 35 units would have restrictions on sales prices as well as the assets and incomes of buyers; 15 units would have to be purchased by full-time, year-round Basalt residents, and the units would have appreciation caps; and 53 of the units would have to be resident occupied but wouldn’t have appreciation caps. The final seven units would be free market. The development will include a day-care facility.

Peterson said he hopes to have all town approvals in place by the end of the year. However, he remains uncertain if his team could start development right away because of the recession. He wants the town to extend its usual vesting of the approvals from three years to five years because of the economic uncertainty.

“While we think the world is going to change, we don’t know that it’s going to change,” Peterson said. “Clearly, when there’s demand, we want to build.”

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Extending the vesting period means Peterson and his partners wouldn’t have to break ground within three years to preserve their approvals. The town staff and planning commission recommended approval of the extension. The council wasn’t able to resolve the issue and deferred a decision until Oct. 27.

Councilman Chris Seldin said extending the approval to five years rather than the customary three is a “big deal” for him. He is enthused about the affordable housing the project will add, but he wants to see it built sooner rather than later.

“We have a need for community housing now,” Seldin said.

scondon@aspentimes.com