Basalt golf plan hits unexpected hazard
The Roaring Fork Club’s proposal to expand its private golf course in Basalt ran into an unexpected hazard last night.A small group of Basalt residents urged the Town Council to delay the review of the project to give residents a chance to determine what type of development they prefer on about 200 acres on the east side of town.”I believe we should do a master plan first,” said Gerry Terwilliger, who is involved in numerous civic endeavors in the town.Jim Paussa, another activist, noted that the town government enacted a moratorium on development in the late 1990s to give it time to create a detailed master plan. That type of plan determines where it is appropriate to build retail shops and restaurants and locate light industrial areas. It also provides guidance on the density of residential neighborhoods.Terwilliger noted that much of the land eyed for the Roaring Fork Club’s expansion wasn’t covered by the old master plan, which was finished in 1999. He and Paussa said residents should have a chance to express their visions for that land in a process where everything is on the table rather than as part of the review of the golf course.The town government declared the moratorium in the mid- and late 1990s because growth was occurring at a rapid rate. Council members in office at that time said they needed a chance to work on the blueprints for growth without the pressure of reviewing development proposals.The town is now updating that master plan, but the council has shown no interest in a moratorium this time.Councilman Glenn Rappaport questioned the motives of Terwilliger and Paussa. He claimed their opposition to the golf club expansion was “disguised” by the demands for a master plan.Rappaport said he is ready to review the golf course project on its merits, and not delay for further studies.”All that does is just obscure the job we’re here to do,” he said.Paussa said after the meeting that he took offense to Rappaport’s claim that he was interested in delaying the project rather than wanting public input on a master plan. That process has been used effectively by Basalt to slow growth and improve quality, Paussa said.Other public comment about the golf club’s plan was split between friends and foes. The club currently has 18 holes of golf and 48 luxury cabins sold in fractional-ownership interests.The owners, headed by managing partner Jim Light, want to add nine holes of golf, 24 luxury cabins, 13 home sites on land associated with the project and 36 employee housing units.Businessman Stefan Isberian said the club provides a “tremendous benefit” to Basalt’s economy. Everything about the Roaring Fork Club has been first rate, he said, and the expansion would be as well.Another supporter, whose name wasn’t available, said he wanted to see the golf course expand with low-density housing rather than see an expansion of the high-density Elk Run subdivision on the site.”I would hate to see it become a big suburban sprawl,” he said.But Greg Shugars countered that the Town Council shouldn’t rush to approve the first project proposed on that land. It should make sure it gets the best project for the site.”My natural tendency is to be skeptical when a developer comes up and says, ‘I’ve got a deal for you,'” he said.Shugars also questioned the motivation behind the club’s proposal. Does Basalt really need nine more holes of golf, or do the club partners need a way to sell more luxury cabins, he asked. He wants the town to be wary of developers trying to make a buck off the town name and the area’s beauty.”The big picture really is, is Basalt a community or a commodity?” Shugars said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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