Basalt mulls second moratorium
The town of Basalt is considering its second development moratorium in five years as a way of making time to work on long-range plans.
Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens raised the idea Tuesday night of instituting “interim development controls” to give the town’s planning office time to implement the River Master Plan. That plan is a detailed study of what Basalt wants the Roaring Fork River corridor to eventually look like.
The study was completed last year. Some goals will be pursued this year, such as redevelopment of the Levinson property west of downtown into a riverside park. Other goals could take years to achieve, such as the relocation of the Roaring Fork and Pan mobile home parks.
Stevens said he was concerned that the town’s two-person planning staff is too busy handling development reviews to work on River Master Plan issues. Councilwoman Anne Freedman agreed with the concern, noting that planning director Susan Philip is often in the office on weekends and well into the evening.
Although it has been months since any development application has reached the Town Council, Stevens said he senses activity is picking up. If the hunch is right, the planning staff may have no time to devote to River Master Plan issues. He said a “pause” is necessary.
Stevens said implementation of the river plan is a major priority for him. Other council members agreed, so the board directed the staff to come back with advice on a moratorium.
Town Manager Tom Baker said the biggest issue may be the “heat” that the board would face from the development community. Basalt’s revenues from building permits were down last year and were down through the first quarter this year. A moratorium during an economic slump could be questioned.
But Stevens said he would be the first to thank applicants for their interest and tell them to “come back” next year.
There is a precedent for a moratorium in Basalt. The Town Council enacted one for about 12 months during a period of heavy growth in 1998 and 1999. That moratorium was declared to give the town time to complete a long-range growth plan.
Baker said on Wednesday that he and the staff will offer the council advice about a new moratorium at the June 10 meeting. One alternative could be prioritizing the planning staff’s work and hiring an extra planner, Baker said.
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