Basalt takes initial step to preserve town history |

Basalt takes initial step to preserve town history

The Basalt Town Council is preparing to slap a moratorium on demolition of structures 75 years of age or older – and hoping no landowners beat them to the punch.

The moratorium cannot go into effect until 30 days after publication of a legal notice begins. In that short window of opportunity, an owner of a targeted structure could potentially receive a demolition permit.

The moratorium, approved 6-0, is meant to buy time for the town to draft permanent preservation guidelines.

“There is concern that there are structures in danger of destruction that we’d never be able to replace,” said Town Manager Tom Baker.

The moratorium was approved for six months. It prohibits demolition of commercial and residential structures.

Councilwoman Anne Freedman, who is championing the idea, said she doesn’t believe Basalt’s regulations will create the same uproar that expanded historic preservation guidelines sparked in Aspen.

“All the fuss in Aspen right now is over homes that are 50 years old,” she said, noting her proposal targeted properties at least 75 years old.

Freedman proposed that the council take a four-step approach to preserving its historic structures:

The first step was the moratorium. Second, a committee of town officials will be formed to establish goals of the program. Third, guidelines will be set to meet those goals.

And finally, a historic preservation commission will be formed to apply the rules, including deciding what buildings are protected.

Mayor Rick Stevens proposed that the town create a special district that includes Midland Avenue, where many of the old commercial buildings are, and some areas of the Hill District. Any demolition and redevelopment within that district – or “bubble” as he called it – would be screened for compliance with historic preservation codes.

Age wouldn’t necessarily require preservation of a building. Property owners would be able to pitch their case to the HPC that their building shouldn’t qualify.

Basalt native Ryan Anslyn said he would likely do just that. He is closing next week on an 840-square-foot home that was built in 1903.

“I don’t think it has any architectural integrity,” he said.

He intends to eventually raze the house and build a duplex, which complies with the zoning. Anslyn said he hoped his plan wouldn’t get sunk by the preservation effort.

“It’s definitely causing me a lot of stress” due to the money he’s spending, he said.

Board members made no promises but encouraged Anslyn to stay involved in the process to create the guidelines.

Property owners who demolish historic structures without a permit will face the ultimate penalty – delays in receiving permits for new construction. Illegal demolitions would mean an automatic three-year wait for a building permit.

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