Basalt river flooding study key to fate of mobile home park
Residents of a Basalt mobile home park learned this week that the town government isn’t forcing them out, but their fate will remain in limbo until flood studies are completed.
About 15 residents of the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park pressed the Basalt Town Council and Basalt Planning Commission Tuesday night for their thoughts on the future of the park.
Residents are concerned because a proposed town master plan designates part of the mobile home park as open space and part of it as high-density housing. It shows a different vision for a site that’s home to about 50 families.
However, the proposed master plan also stresses a desire to preserve Basalt’s character, in part by preserving existing affordable housing.
“We are the people we think you want to keep in our town,” said Hilary Burgess, secretary of the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park’s homeowners’ association. “The big question today is, are you willing to keep us there?”
“I’m happy to have you guys stay there forever,” responded Councilman Steve Solomon.
He said residents shouldn’t interpret the proposed zoning in the master plan as a sign they are unwanted.
“I hope that you don’t see it as a threat. It’s not meant that way,” Solomon said.
He and other officials stressed that they cannot control whether the property is redeveloped. If it is, the master plan tells the developer what’s allowed at the site.
Basalt has regulations that require 100 percent replacement of all the affordable housing that would be removed from the site by redevelopment.
“Realize, if something were to happen, you wouldn’t be left out in the cold,” said Gary Wheeler, chairman of the Basalt planning commission.
Burgess said an internal survey showed most park residents want to stay put. Many want to buy their trailer spaces. Most of the park’s tenants own their own mobile homes but rent their spaces from landlord Richard Downey.
There are concerns among residents that the replacement of mobile homes with other employee housing could price them out – even if it’s intended to be affordable.
The mobile home park is located on the banks of the Roaring Fork River, south of downtown. Although the area is quickly becoming the heart of Basalt, it is a pocket of private land that is in unincorporated Pitkin County.
Basalt and county officials speculate that if Downey tries to redevelop, he will seek annexation into the town. But redevelopment seems unlikely anytime soon. Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working on new maps showing the flood plain and flood way in the Basalt area.
Those maps will determine the availability of federal flood insurance and, to some extent, influence land-use decisions, Stevens said. The Basalt board will want to see how FEMA’s maps turn out before making key decisions about riverside property, he said.
While that’s likely to prevent Downey from moving ahead on redevelopment plans soon, it also keeps residents uncertain about their future, Burgess noted.
Council members stressed that changes may be required to the river in the area of the park and to the mobile home park itself to ensure safety of residents.
Mobile home park residents have approached Pitkin County officials about possible assistance acquiring the land from Downey.
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Fire managers and officials with state and local agencies have agreed to officially rescind all fire restrictions in Eagle County beginning Friday at 12:01 a.m.