Basalt council starts revisiting Pan and Fork in wake of election
The new Basalt Town Council will revisit over the next month the direction the prior board charted on the Pan and Fork and other downtown properties.
The prior council approved two resolutions that laid the ground for the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission to look at zoning and a range of uses for the four downtown properties. In April, three council positions turned over and a mayor who had been in the minority got re-elected and possibly elevated to the majority.
“The election changed things,” Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said. He said was against portions of the resolutions and still wouldn’t support them. He wants the council to revisit the direction on uses and height on the Pan and Fork site, for example.
“Those resolutions are not necessarily the way I want to continue. Maybe the other council members do.”
The Pan and Fork is partially in the town’s hands and partially in private hands. The town is creating a park on its portion. The private property is being eyed as a combination of park and development, but the exact mix is up for debate.
The Pan and Fork was a defining issue in the municipal election for mayor and three council seats.
Mayor Jacque Whitsitt agreed that another look is required on the direction the council gave.
“Clearly some of us council members that voted against them over and over are still against them,” she said.
Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle, who won election in the April 5 election, said she doesn’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water. There are “gems” among the directions that have been given, she said, and she doesn’t want to see the planning commission’s work entirely wasted.
Riffle proposed that the council hold a joint meeting with the planning commission within the next month to settle the direction. It will require that everyone “come prepared” to state their opinion, she said.
Councilmen Auden Schendler and Bernie Grauer expressed concerns over revisiting the resolutions.
“I really want to move things forward as quickly as possible, but carefully,” said Schendler, who also won election in April.
He said he wants to get the zoning in place on the Pan and Fork, Merino Park, Lions Park and the Clark’s Market property, then see if that spurs development applications.
“I fear going back in time, reviewing everything from the get-go and (taking) forever,” he said.
Grauer said 18 months and considerable resources have been spent getting the planning to this point. He doesn’t want to see the effort wasted.
But the majority said the review doesn’t need to be a time-consuming process. They plan to hold a work session with the planning commission as soon as possible and reaffirm or reset the direction.
“I think all of us are ready to move forward,” Whitsitt said.
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The Youth Art Expo will run Feb. 27 through March 14 at the Aspen Art Museum, showcasing work by young artists from Aspen to Rifle.