Aspen Skiing Co. can add midvalley housing without land use review
July 14, 2017
Aspen Skiing Co. has a green light from Eagle County to add 34 "tiny homes" to the Aspen Basalt Campground this summer without going through review of a land-use application.
The county land-use code views tiny homes built on a chassis with lights and a license plate differently than manufactured homes or those placed on a permanent foundation, according to Adam Palmer, head of the county's sustainable communities department.
The county code regards the tiny homes on wheels the same as recreational vehicles that are allowed in formal RV parks, with proper hook-ups for water and sewer, Palmer said. There is no county prohibition on the amount of time an RV can stay in a qualified RV park. Therefore, Skico can use Aspen Basalt Campground for permanent seasonal housing since the residences are on wheels.
Eagle County's code prohibits habitation of an RV outside of a campground or park for anything more than five days out of a 30-day period.
“We delivered on our first contact with Aspen Ski Company and are very pleased to be awarded what we believe is the largest single contract of tiny homes to date in the country.”
— statement from Sprout Tiny Homes
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Philip Jeffreys, Skico project manager, said Skico's situation "is the exception, not the rule."
"Trailer coaches located anywhere outside of a campground always require a land-use application," he said.
There's also another important distinction to Skico's case, said Damian Peduto, Eagle County community development director. Since the tiny homes are replacing existing RVs and the applicant isn't expanding use of the site, "a more intensive review would likely not be required," he said.
Skico discussed the project thoroughly with Eagle County officials and experimented with tiny home "motor coaches" last year. It moved six of the residences last fall into the Aspen Basalt Campground, a 6.6-acre site it purchased in 2008 with a vision of using it for employee housing. The former KOA is located in unincorporated Eagle County near the Midvalley Medical Clinic. It is surrounded by the town of Basalt but was never annexed into the town.
Skico said the experiment went well over the ski season so it signed a contract this spring to have 34 additional homes built by Sprout Tiny Homes of Pueblo.
"The first new unit should arrive sometime in August, the balance before the snow flies and our ski season starts," Jeffreys said.
The Colorado ski industry might follow Skico's example. Jeffreys was featured on a panel discussing affordable housing options at the annual meeting of Colorado Ski Country USA in Denver last month.
To clear room for the tiny homes, Skico had to evict tenants renting 16 spaces at the RV park. It provided financial incentives on a sliding scale for relocation. Residents who got out by June 30 received $3,000. If they leave by July 31 they will receive $2,000 and if they depart by Aug. 31 they receive $1,000.
Ten of 16 residents have relocated, Jeffreys said. The remaining RV residents will leave prior to Labor Day, he said. Skico employees living in RVs in the park were allowed to stay.
The tiny homes are "in the ballpark" of $100,000 each, according to Skico. The homes will be delivered fully furnished including living room furniture, two fully furnished sleeping lofts and one main level bedroom, according to Sprout Tiny Homes. They will have window coverings, wall-mounted flat screen smart TV, full kitchen with dishwasher, 11/4 bath, a living room, built-in storage lockers, infrared radiant floor heat, and state-of-the-art HVAC and fresh air systems. The homes are move-in ready upon delivery and connection to the local utilities.
"We delivered on our first contact with Aspen Ski Co. and are very pleased to be awarded what we believe is the largest single contract of tiny homes to date in the country," said Sprout's Rod Stambaugh in a prepared statement. He is listed as the company's chief sproutologist.