Basalt wants say on El Jebel project |

Basalt wants say on El Jebel project

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT ” Basalt officials finally got a chance Tuesday night to directly lobby the Eagle County commissioners to transfer the review of a large midvalley project proposed by Ace Lane to the town.

The county commissioners weren’t in a position to listen to the pitch.

Basalt officials believe the town government should review Lane’s Tree Farm project, a proposal for 319 residences and 96,375 square feet of commercial space across Highway 82 from the Willits Town Center.

Lane’s land is outside the town limits so he is exercising his right to seek approval from Eagle County. The Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission recommended earlier this month that the project be given the first round of approval. The Tree Farm will be reviewed by the county commissioners for the first time on June 30.

Basalt already urged the county to let it tackle the review on the grounds that a project with urban-style density should be reviewed by a town rather than a county. The point was reinforced by Basalt Town Manager Bill Kane Tuesday in a joint meeting of the Town Council and county commissioners on a variety of topics.

“This is a project that is immediately adjacent to the town limits,” Kane said. The town will bear the burden of certain costs resulting from the project, but it won’t benefit from revenues from building fees, sales or property taxes, he said.

County Manager Keith Montag was quick to squash any direct talk about the Tree Farm. The county commissioners cannot discuss details of the project prior to the June 30 public hearing, he said. Montag assured the Basalt officials that they will get a special opportunity at that hearing to present their position to the commissioners.

Although the Tree Farm wasn’t discussed by name for the remainder of the meeting, the elected officials were able to discuss related topics, like “land use cooperation/partnership.”

Basalt Councilman Chris Seldin said the two governments need better coordination of zoning and land-use regulations to prevent developers from “jurisdiction shopping” ” or plotting where they could get a better deal. Seldin specifically pointed to the need for Eagle County to stick to low-density, rural zoning in unincorporated lands around Basalt. That will help the town stick to its urban growth boundary, or area designated for high-density development.

The El Jebel Mobile Home Park and the subdivisions of Sopris Village, Summit Vista and Blue Lake are in rural Eagle County but received approvals decades ago for high-density development.

If Basalt took over the review of the Tree Farm, it wouldn’t necessarily reject the application. The town’s master plan contemplates a significant amount of development on Lane’s property, which is in the town’s urban growth boundary. However, the type of development approved might be different from what Lane has proposed.

While the Eagle County officials didn’t address the Tree Farm project, Montag stressed the bigger goal is a coordinated approach on land-use issues with Basalt and the other towns in the county.

“We want to be cooperative. We want to be communicative. We want to be collaborative,” he said.

Basalt officials must wait until at least June 30 to see what that means with the Tree Farm project.