Basalt presses Eagle County on Tree Farm
The Aspen Times
Basalt officials are applying a full-court press to try to convince Eagle County to deny Ace Lane’s Tree Farm development proposal in El Jebel.
Current Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and prior mayors Leroy Duroux and Rick Stevens have written letters to the editor urging the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission to advise the county commissioners to vote “no” on the project.
In addition, the town hired its outside financial consultant to review a market analysis and fiscal impact study that Lane’s team submitted as part of its application. The town’s review questions if the developer will be able to wait to phase construction of the commercial property as proposed.
Town Manager Mike Scanlon also has submitted information to Eagle County to try to get the developer to provide more affordable housing, limit the Tree Farm’s commercial development and deny the project to force Lane to apply for annexation and approval by Basalt.
The present and former mayors were unified in calling for denial of the project.
“As former mayor of Basalt, I’ve seen the Tree Farm application before, Duroux’s letter started. “I didn’t like it then and really don’t like it now.”
The project will add students to an already stressed school system, Duroux said. It also doesn’t address child care shortages in the valley. Duroux also said the project doesn’t provide the affordable housing the midvalley needs.
Stevens, a former mayor now serving as a councilman, wrote that the Tree Farm needs to be part of the town of Basalt. He urged Eagle County to work with Basalt on regionalism.
Scanlon provided The Aspen Times with an advance copy of the presentation he gave to the county planning commission Thursday. Scanlon wrote that Eagle County staff is giving Lane too much credit for providing rental affordable housing. Eagle County staff is advising that Lane’s affordable-housing requirement be reduced by half.
Scanlon also wrote that the town fears the “ongoing cannibalization of commercial space” in the midvalley will be more acute if the Tree Farm is approved as proposed. Lane is seeking approval for 134,500 square feet of commercial space, including a hotel. That figure could increase if the residential component of the project decreases.
Scanlon said in a previous interview that he is concerned the Tree Farm will lure businesses from Willits Town Center or attract new businesses that will be in direct competition with those in Basalt. There is no economic advantage for Eagle County to allow the cannibalization, he wrote.