113-unit Stott’s Mill housing project in Basalt clears big hurdle
STOTT’S MILL PLAN
23 deed-restricted, price-capped affordable units.
Affordable housing includes 19 rentals and 4 lots.
Two additional units may be built for school district.
88 free-market residences, including 43 multi-family.
A development project that some officials say is the most thoroughly vetted in the history of Basalt cleared an important hurdle Tuesday night.
The Town Council voted 5-1 to grant first reading approval to the Stott’s Mill project for 113 residences and a child care space that must be rented at a below-market rate. It will return for a second and final reading of the approval Sept. 26.
Councilwomen Jennifer Riffle and Katie Schwoerer as well as Mayor Jacque Whitsitt initially voted to delay the first reading approval so that more information could be gleaned from the town staff and development team. Riffle said there were too many “unknowns” for the council to grant a “rubber stamp.”
That motion failed by a 3-3 tie with Councilmen Bernie Grauer, Mark Kittle and Gary Tennenbaum opposed.
“We’ve vetted this thing probably more than any development project” during his seven years on the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission and four years on the council, Grauer said.
Tennenbaum agreed. “We beat this thing to death in 2009,” he said.
Basalt officials initially approved Stott’s Mill in 2009 after five years in the pre-application process and formal review. The developers had to scrap plans to build when the Great Recession struck and financing dried up.
Briston Peterson and his partners in MSP1 LLC resurrected the project last year. Their altered application to increase the density to 156 units failed to win council support.
The team was back before the council Tuesday with the project scaled down to 113 units.
“That was our mistake,” Peterson said of the proposal for 156 units. “We thought we heard the town wanted more density.”
Schwoerer pressed Peterson on what changed since the council rejected the 156-residence proposal in February. At that time, she noted, Peterson said it was impossible to reduce the number of units and keep the project financially viable.
“It’s called writing off debt,” Peterson said.
If built, the housing will be built on 18 acres north of Basalt High School on the east side of Southside Drive. Stott’s Mill will feature multi-family housing on the west side and larger-size single-family lots on the east. Sandwiched in between will be smaller lots with the intent of providing attainable, free-market housing by limiting house size.
Grauer said he appreciated that 43 of the 88 free-market units will be multi-family rentals, filling an important niche in the market.
“They are already what I would call the attainable side,” he said. It is unlikely the free-market units will be snatched up as trophy homes, Grauer added.
He made the motion to approve the project on first reading. Riffle cast the dissenting vote. The council provided a list of questions they want answered at the second reading.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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