Basalt council sets course on Pan and Fork redevelopment
The Basalt Town Council provided direction to its staff and a developer Tuesday night on the controversial Pan and Fork redevelopment plan despite blistering criticism from audience members and an internal discussion that threatened to prolong a stalemate.
The council voted 5-2 to approve amendments to a 2007 master plan that generally defines uses of the Pan and Fork site and other key downtown properties. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the changes to the master plan.
The master plan generally reflects that the town would like to see development on the western half of the privately owned portion of the Pan and Fork site and a park on the eastern half. The Pan and Fork site is west of downtown between Two Rivers Road and the Roaring Fork River.
In a separate action, the council also voted 6-1 to approve a non-binding resolution that directs its staff to work with a developer on a plan for the Pan and Fork site, start work on zoning of the site and explores ways to buy some of the private property for a public park.
Town Manager Mike Scanlon asked the council to approve the resolution that directs the staff to work on zoning and a plan with the developer. He urged the council to put aside discussions on how much square footage of development would be allowed, for now, so that progress could be made on the plan.
During a public hearing, about 10 audience members urged the council to reject both Scanlon’s request and the master plan amendments.
Ted Guy said the town’s proposed direction was at odds with what was envisioned by citizens’ committees. “This is a step backward,” he said.
Larry Yaw said dividing the privately owned portion of the Pan and Fork into half that could be developed and half that must be a park was “shallow.” The council should approach the issue from a physical, social and fiscal planning angle, he said.
Norm Clasen said any plan to restore vitality to downtown Basalt should include development on the portion of the site closest to downtown. Basalt’s direction is counter to good planning, he claimed, because it confines what a developer can do.
“Basically, you’ve put us in a box,” Clasen said.
Brian Dillard said it was fiscally impossible to pursue “what you are trying to shove down our throat.” The town cannot afford to buy the property that the plans contemplate as park, he said.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mark Kwiecienski was concerned that the council’s actions encourage too much development. He urged the council to avoid “the short-term sugar buzz that building it out would give us.”
Gerry Terwilliger expressed similar sentiment. “We don’t need to urbanize the town of Basalt,” he said.
Council members had plenty of doubts about the direction they wanted to go. Some members were wary of approving anything that limited creative options. Others didn’t want to guarantee specific amounts of development.
Town Attorney Tom Smith repeatedly assured the board they weren’t making any commitments. The master plan amendment was approved by Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and Councilmen Bernie Grauer, Rob Leavitt, Gary Tennenbaum and Herschel Ross. Councilmen Rick Stevens and Mark Kittle voted against it.
The proposal to direct the town staff to work on zoning, a plan with the developer and purchase of land for a park was approved by all members except Whitsitt.
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