Basalt mulls moratorium extension |

Basalt mulls moratorium extension

BASALT ” The Basalt Town Council will consider Tuesday whether to extend a moratorium on new development applications for three more months despite the condition of the local economy.

A moratorium has been in place since June, when the council voted 6-1 to approve an emergency ordinance that imposed a nine-month ban on accepting and reviewing most new development applications. The moratorium was needed, the council majority said, to update the town’s growth management regulations.

The existing moratorium is set to expire in March. A memo to the council from town planner Susan Philp requests a three-month extension until June 10.

“While substantial progress has been made on the items to be completed during the moratorium, an extension is necessary,” Philp wrote to the council in a memo.

But Basalt officials insist the moratorium won’t impact the building industry, which along with the local construction and real estate development industries, has been crippled by the lack of credit.

“There’s a lot of approvals up and down the valley, including Basalt,” said Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt. “If there was demand, we would see activity.”

Instead, homes aren’t selling, and construction is at a standstill due to market conditions.

“I don’t see it related to the moratorium at all,” Whitsitt said.

Extending the moratorium ensures that the Basalt council and planning staff can concentrate on updating growth management rules and affordable housing requirements without reviewing any projects that are submitted, Whitsitt said.

Mayor Leroy Duroux voted against the moratorium in June because it was enacted as an emergency ordinance without public notice and without giving residents a chance to comment on it. He said he likely will support the extension so that the town government can complete the work it embarked upon.

Duroux, who has been in the construction industry most of his life, said he doesn’t believe the moratorium will have a big impact on the development industry in Basalt. However, he doesn’t want to see the freeze on new applications continued beyond June.

Basalt planner and architect Ted Guy agreed that the moratorium won’t hurt the moribund development industry.

“Even if they were to stop the moratorium no one would be building,” Guy said. “We have a credit moratorium.”

Real estate investors are looking for “distressed” properties, according to Guy. They aren’t even sniffing around regular development opportunities, he said.

The Town Council will hold a hearing on its plan to extend the moratorium at 6:30 p.m. today at Town Hall. The staff’s recommended action is for the council to approve the first reading and schedule a public hearing for Feb. 10.

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