Basalt to alter Pan and Fork review
BASALT – Basalt officials are preparing to embark on an intensive, one-year review of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park, where the developer will receive special considerations that most other developers don’t get, according to Town Manager Bill Kane.
Kane told Town Council members at a meeting last week that the Pan and Fork redevelopment is a different kind of beast because it’s owned by a nonprofit development company that is partners with the town on part of the project.
The Pan and Fork is owned by Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. It is proposing to build about 112,000 square feet of retail, residential and office space as well as a hotel. Some of the office space is envisioned as a home for nonprofit organizations.
The development corporation sold about half of the trailer-park property to the town government. The town plans to convert its share of the land to a park alongside the Roaring Fork River.
The development corporation must provide replacement affordable housing for the 38 trailers that will be displaced.
Kane said the council will sometimes look at the Pan and Fork application in its regular capacity as a regulatory agency in a land-use process. Other times, “We’ll be a partner at the table” with the development corporation, he said.
“We’re going to have to think about this in some pretty unconventional ways,” Kane said.
The expectation by members of the development team and Kane is that the review can be completed in 12 months. To achieve the goal, Basalt cannot review the project like a standard development application, Kane said. He noted the last major project to earn approval, Stott’s Mill, was in the review process for five years.
If the town government sticks to the business-as-usual, multistep review model involving the planning staff, the Planning and Zoning Commission and then the Town Council, the project might not happen, according to Kane.
The private-sector development industry in the U.S. “is dead right now,” Kane said. He has worked with Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. to find ways to make the redevelopment of the 38-unit mobile-home park feasible. The stakes go beyond redevelopment. The project could assure the long-term economic health of downtown Basalt, according to Kane.
“We cannot afford not to get this right,” he said.
One tool the town government is willing to consider to speed the review is spot zoning for the redevelopment. It will create a special zone district for the project to use.
There also will be an abbreviated review process, though it hasn’t been fully defined. Members of the Town Council and planning commission said in a joint meeting they want more than one-step review. They want to look at both the concept of the development and the details.
Planning commission member Bernie Grauer noted that the town resisted a one-step review last time it was sought by a nonprofit developer. The Roaring Fork Conservancy wanted a speedy review for its proposed river center in Basalt. Town officials insisted on more of an in-depth look at details, and a better project resulted, Grauer said.
Kane said the Pan and Fork project will be before the boards more than once.
“A one-step approval process is infeasible for a project this size. They know it. We know it. The American people know it,” he quipped.
The town apparently won’t set a precedent for speedy review of all projects. Kane said the speedy review will be reserved for 501(c)(3) organizations.
“There are all these protocols that mean not everyone can walk in and use this,” he said.
The review begins with the planning commission later this month.
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