Basalt manager tries to break impasse on land use dispute
November 24, 2015
Basalt's top administrator is urging the Town Council to put differences aside and provide meaningful direction tonight on how to proceed with redevelopment of the Pan and Fork site near downtown.
After sitting on the sidelines for months and waiting for the council to sort issues out, Town Manager Mike Scanlon is taking a more aggressive stance to try to move the issue ahead. He wrote in a memo to the council that the board has become bogged down over how much square footage to allow.
"We are trapped in an argument that says square footages are an absolute," Scanlon wrote. That's preventing the board from agreeing to a plan that will leave a community legacy, according to Scanlon.
He wants the board to take a different view. The downtown needs a "great park" to reach its potential, Scanlon wrote, and the town is building that park along the Roaring Fork River on the old Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park site.
“We need great development in our downtown to complement that great park. They can’t and won’t exist without the other.”Mike Scanlon, Basalt town manager
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"We need great development in our downtown to complement that great park," Scanlon said. "They can't and won't exist without the other. They are interrelated and interconnected."
"Context" lost in dispute
Scanlon claimed that the community has lost the "context" of the issue because of the fights over park versus redevelopment. The Pan and Fork site is about 5 acres. The town already owns nearly 3 acres on the half of the site closest to the Roaring Fork River. It is in the process of turning that portion of the site into a riverside park.
The other 2.2 acres, closest to Two Rivers Road, is owned by the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. Nearly 1 acre of that land will be added to the park, the council has decided.
That leaves about 1 acre available for private development and one-third of an acre designated as staging for special events. The 1 acre available for private development is limited by a low water table.
"This is a hard site to build on," Scanlon wrote. "This site can only hold so much development, especially when you're trying to make it 'appropriate' and 'complementary.'" It's time to step away from the square-footage arguments and let the developer have an opportunity to model what is possible."
Regardless of the level of development that shakes out of the process, it will take a combination of public and private investment to create a community legacy, Scanlon said.
Conditions of proposed resolution
After months of council wrangling, Scanlon wants the council to approve a resolution that provides some solid direction on the issue. The proposed resolution would:
Direct the town staff to work with the Roaring For Community Development Corp.'s designated developer on a proposal.
Direct the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission to work on zoning for the site that allows a mix of uses that are appropriate and complementary to the park and downtown.
Direct the Parks, Open Space and Trails committee to work on incorporating some of the Community Development Corp. property into the riverside park.
Direct the staff and an outside financial consultant to work on a plan to fund development of the additional parkland.
Scanlon's memo stressed that passing the resolution doesn't provide land-use approvals. That will come later in the process.
In a separate but related item, the council also will consider a resolution that amends the town's 2007 master plan so that changes could be made to the Pan and Fork site.
The council meeting starts at 6 p.m. today. The discussions related to the Pan and Fork site are scheduled to begin at 6:20 p.m.