Basalt delays vote on house-size cap |

Basalt delays vote on house-size cap

The Basalt Town Council delayed approving a house-size cap this week because no residents showed up to complain.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to delay a final vote until Aug. 22.

The delay was suggested by Mayor Rick Stevens. He said he supported approval, but it bothered him that no one was showing up at hearings to offer public comment. He said he didn’t think he would be swayed by opposing opinions, but he wanted to make sure everyone had their say.

“I just have this funny feeling,” said Stevens.

Other council members didn’t object to the delay. “There’s no reason not to get as much public comment as possible,” said Councilman Chris Lane.

For the last month, town officials have been considering legislation that would restrict new home construction to no more than 5,000 square feet.

Town Manager Tom Baker said he thought the absence of public interest showed that large homes aren’t an issue in town – yet.

“I think here the pressure for houses of this size is not upon us,” said Baker. “We’re ahead of the curve. In five years, who knows?”

A survey done by the town staff showed that the number of existing homes that are smaller than 5,000 square feet is “in the high 90th percentile,” according to Baker. But as land and other real estate prices go up and Basalt’s attractiveness grows, the demand for larger homes will grow, he predicted.

The most likely sites for large homes will come near the Roaring Fork Golf and Fishing Club and on properties that seek annexation into town, officials believe.

The house-size cap was proposed as part of a plan to make sure Basalt remains a community of working people and families rather than a second-home enclave.

Baker said staff research showed that homes above a certain size tend to be used as second homes or corporate retreats rather than dwellings.

“This is not to say that second-home ownership is undesirable, nor that smaller homes or condominiums are not purchased as second homes,” Baker wrote in a memo to the council.

“We are only saying that very large homes tend to be second homes and that second homes can undermine community objectives if they dominate the residential land use of a community.”

The council will resume review of the house-size cap at its Aug. 22 meeting at a time to be determined.

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