Basalt presses for more affordable housing in midvalley project |

Basalt presses for more affordable housing in midvalley project

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times


What: Land use review of midvalley project

When: Thursday at 4 p.m.

Where: Eagle County building in El Jebel

Issues: Affordable housing leads discussion

The town of Basalt is asking Eagle County to reconsider how much affordable housing Ace Lane will be required to provide at his proposed midvalley development.

The town contends Lane should be required to provide at least 59 units and possibly as many as 119 for his project, called the Tree Farm, according to Town Manager Mike Scanlon.

Eagle County staff is proposing that Lane be required to build 45 units for mitigation for the project. Lane is proposing to add one unit in connection to a separate land-use application.

Lane and his Woody Ventures LLC is proposing to build as many as 400 residences and 135,000 square feet of commercial space across Highway 82 from Whole Foods.

The project is in unincorporated Eagle County, just outside the town’s boundaries.

Scanlon said he stated his case for more affordable housing recently to Eagle County Manager Brian McFall and planner Scot Hunn, who is processing Lane’s application. Eagle County hasn’t responded yet to Basalt’s request, but the topic is scheduled to be discussed Thursday when the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission resumes its review of the Tree Farm. The planning commission advises the Eagle County commissioners on issues in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Basalt is preparing to consider amendments to its affordable-housing guidelines that would decrease the amount of housing required by developers. A consultant, Economic and Planning Systems, advised the town to make changes to reflect different economic conditions post-recession. The consultant recommended that Basalt adopt Eagle County’s formula.

Scanlon said Basalt won’t decrease requirements to Eagle County’s level. However, it will consider dropping mitigation from 35 percent to 25 percent of the square footage of a project.

In the Tree Farm’s case, 25 percent of the residential square footage would be the equivalent of 118.6 units. Eagle County is proposing to give Lane double credit for his affordable housing because he is committing to build rental units among his mix.

“If Eagle County’s double credit for rental units was applied to all required affordable housing, (it would) equal 59 affordable-housing units required,” Scanlon wrote in a position paper.

Eagle County’s formula is different than Basalt’s. The county, in this case, is requiring the developer to provide affordable housing equal to 25 percent of the overall residential units. Lane proposed 400 residences. That produces an affordable housing requirement of 100 units. However, the county housing director proposed giving him double credit, as the county code allows, for providing some rental housing. That reduces the mitigation to 50 units.

The county housing director also is advising to reduce Lane’s requirement by another five units because he committed to build the apartments in the first two phases. That makes the mitigation 45 units. That reduction also is allowed in the county code.

Scanlon said town officials oppose awarding double credit. They are pressing for more affordable housing under terms of an Intergovernmental Agreement hashed out between the governments several years ago. Under that agreement, the governments agree to “consider” affordable-housing levels at whatever rate is higher between the two governments.

David Marrs, a member of Lane’s development team, said the team is aware of Basalt’s request. It’s consistent with the town’s position since an earlier round of review, he said.

But Lane’s team is focused on Eagle County’s affordable-housing guidelines, Marrs said, because that is the government undertaking the review.

As proposed, the Tree Farm would feature 130 apartments that will rent at market rates, 124 loft condominiums, 64 townhouses, 36 live-work units and the 46 rental apartments with rent restrictions. Sales prices or rental caps would only be enforced on the 46 units.

The review by the planning commission will resume at 4 p.m. today in the Eagle County office building in El Jebel. Affordable housing is the first topic on the agenda. A public hearing is expected to begin at about 6 p.m.