Basalt wants look at El Jebel hotel plan
A development application that includes a possible four-star hotel and health food supermarket in El Jebel is facing one strike before its official review even begins.The Basalt Town Council voted 6-0, with one abstention, Tuesday night to “strongly oppose” Eagle County’s review of the Tavaci project. Council members and other town officials said the project’s style is so urban that the town government should review it rather than the county.”It’s not a personal thing – it’s urban growth in a rural area,” Basalt Town Manager Bill Efting said.It’s unknown if Basalt’s position will have any clout with Eagle County. It is standard procedure for the Eagle and Pitkin county governments to seek comments from Basalt about projects for the periphery of the town. Typically, Basalt has its planning commission review the project and submit a letter with concerns and a general feel for the project. The town’s advice may or may not influence the review.In this case, the town staff took the proposal directly to the Town Council. “It’s so significant in terms of the size and fiscal impacts to the town,” said Basalt Town Planner Susan Philp. Tavaci rivals the 600,000-square-foot Willits Town Center project in West Basalt in size, she said.Tavaci is proposed for 200 acres Ace and Jennifer Lane own across Highway 82 from Willits and the El Jebel City Market commercial complex. The applicant is a firm controlled by Ace Lane and his brothers. The site is in unincorporated Eagle County but adjacent to Basalt’s town limits.The project features three components: a luxury condominium hotel; a mixed-use area with 92,000 square feet of commercial development that could include a “big-box” retailer in the health food business and 77 residences; and 24 single-family homes.The hotel complex proposal includes 132 condos of various sizes, 6,000 square feet of conference space and a 10,000-square-foot athletic club. It would be affiliated with 12 duplex units and 16 “nature cabins” that would be separate from the hotel building.The Basalt council members spent little time discussing the merits of the project at their meeting Tuesday night. At this point, their sole issue is what jurisdiction should review the project.Mayor Leroy Duroux said it is in the “town’s best interests” to oppose the project based on its potential effects on what’s been approved in Basalt. Later, he backed off the opposition and said the town should press the point that the project should be in the town and the council should review it.Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said the development application ignored Basalt’s planning goals even though the property is adjacent to the town. “To me, they didn’t address any of Basalt’s issues at all,” he said.Tennenbaum asked why the applicant didn’t seek annexation of the property into Basalt. Philp said she talked with the Lanes’ planning consultants, but they decided to submit the plan to Eagle County. Philp noted that Basalt has a more restrictive land-use code and more stringent mitigation requirements, like affordable housing.The council voted to have Duroux talk directly to the Eagle County commissioners about the town’s desire to review the project, and why the council feels that is appropriate. The commissioners cannot force the Lanes to seek annexation into the town, but they have the ability to turn down this type of development application, called a planned unit development.The application is scheduled to go before the Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission on July 20. The Lanes’ planning consultant, Rick Pylman of Edwards, declined to comment Wednesday on Basalt’s direction. He said he needed time to assess the action.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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