Another view on Sopris Chase
Dear Editor:At the last Basalt master plan meeting, David Fiore said something to the effect that if there is a flood and the residents of his mobile home park were flooded out, it would be the fault of Basalt’s elected officials for not approving his Sopris Chase proposal when they could have. He also went on to say that the citizens of Basalt were overwhelmingly in favor of his proposal. The truth is that Fiore’s company, Western Peak, could move them out; however, Western Peak has stubbornly held fast to and promoted the idea that their Sopris Chase property is the only realistic receiver site for the relocation. Regarding his comment that an overwhelming majority supported his project runs contrary to the past election results where fighting sprawl was identified as a top priority of the electorate.When the trailers are cleared away, Western Peak will be free to build approximately 200,000 developable feet of mixed use property on some of Basalt’s most valuable river front area. First, however, they are obligated under current zoning to provide replacement housing for the mobile homes now on the site. Western Peak purchased an inexpensive piece of land, now being called Sopris Chase, in Pitkin County near the high school where the current zoning of that land is for one single-family home. They would like the town of Basalt to change its urban growth boundary, annex the property, change the zoning to a density of more then 100 times that of what it is now to accommodate their desire to inexpensively clear the park for redevelopment instead of relocating some of the replacement housing on the downtown site and some at various other locations that are appropriate for it, which are within the urban growth boundary.The part of this that bothers me is Western Peaks has been using its association with Catholic Charities liberally and at the forefront of their public relations blitz to smear Basalt, painting its council and planning and zoning members as being unsympathetic to affordable housing and residents of the mobile home park, which simply is not true. The $2 million from the estate of open-space advocates Fritz and Fabi Benedict, which was entrusted to Catholic Charities for affordable housing, should be invested in some other location within the Urban Growth Boundary rather then a site like Sopris Chase, which would greatly affect the rural experience of users of the Rio Grande Trail.From all I can see, this will ultimately be a lucrative development for Western Peak, even without Sopris Chase. Hopefully, Western Peak will realize that the Basalt council is holding to its promise made to its voters, who overwhelmingly put them in office to uphold the urban growth boundary and that Western Peak should get on with some alternative for moving the residents of the park out of harms way prior to the next flood, as the current and escalating future valuations of developed property in the prime river core area certainly could support this relocation/replacement effort with plenty of chips left over for Western Peak.Mark KwiecienskiBasalt
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