Basalt can’t repeat golf club debacle
November 16, 2006
The Basalt Town Council’s denial of the Roaring Fork golf club’s expansion proposal is a difficult issue to sort through.On one hand, it can be said that the process ultimately worked. A majority of council members said they heard convincing arguments from the community that the town’s 1999 land-use master plan had to be upheld. Opponents of the golf club’s expansion claimed that the project would violate the master plan by requiring an expansion of the “urban growth boundary,” an area deemed appropriate for urban-style growth.In a 5-1 vote, each member of the council majority concurred with that reasoning. Mayor Leroy Duroux, the sole dissenting vote, was willing to overlook the urban growth boundary issue because he felt the community benefits of the golf club’s plan outweighed those problems.We commend the council majority. We believe the master plan – a huge effort by the town and its citizens – should be upheld. The town will need steady guidance in the coming months as it reviews a half-dozen or so development requests.Nonetheless, the council’s decision left a bad taste in our mouth. Councilman Glenn Rappaport said there was a “failed process” on the Roaring Fork Club review. That’s an understatement.Jim Light and his partners in the club submitted an application more than two years ago. In June 2005, the council in office at the time and the Basalt Planning Commission said the review could run concurrently with an update to the master plan. That proved to be incorrect.The problems were compounded after the April 2006 election, when three new council members were elected on a platform of upholding the master plan. Since the dynamics of the board had changed, it should have been determined then whether the Roaring Fork Club application conflicted with the master plan.Someone should have emerged as a leader for Basalt – be it the mayor, a council member or the town manager – and asked if the Roaring Fork Club could pass the threshold test of compliance with the master plan. Instead, the review continued for another six months before the club developers got a “no” answer.The town should be able to give developers an answer without making them wait for 27 months.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.