Basalt’s trailer dilemma gets more complicated |

Basalt’s trailer dilemma gets more complicated

BASALT ” A regulation passed in Basalt early this decade that requires developers to replace affordable housing displaced by new projects isn’t economically feasible, a consultant told the Town Council on Tuesday night.

Dan Guimond, of Economic and Planning Systems of Denver, said it will be nearly impossible to move 84 families out of two trailer parks in the heart of Basalt under the current regulations. The subsidy required ” to provide 100 percent replacement housing ” is too onerous, he said.

Without a policy change, Basalt will remain at a standstill on the trailer relocation issue, Guimond said.

The regulation was crafted by Basalt with the best of intentions. Leaders didn’t want the low-income occupants of the Roaring Fork and the Pan and Fork mobile home parks displaced with no options for affordable housing in the case of redevelopment.

However, it’s also a primary town goal to see those properties redeveloped. Two studies have shown the trailer parks are susceptible to catastrophic flooding.

The issue has been at a stalemate for years. Basalt teamed with Eagle and Pitkin counties to fund a $50,000 study to see if it was feasible for replacement housing to be provided within the town’s urban growth boundary, an area defined as acceptable for growth.

Guimond’s study showed that the subsidy per unit would be too high to make any effort enticing for a developer.

“You hit it on the head ” what we have isn’t working,” said Town Manager Bill Efting after Guimond’s presentation.

“Now we know our replacement housing policy isn’t working. It’s broken,” agreed Councilman Pete McBride.

Guimond said redeveloping both trailer parks in ways that would honor the town’s land-use master plan and provide 100 percent replacement housing would require subsidies in excess of $242,000 per unit. A big problem is that both projects would require locating a major share of the replacement housing off-site.

Only small portions of the trailer park sites could be redeveloped because of flooding potential. Parts of both properties would remain open space.

“No project can cover the amount of replacement housing associated with these sites,” Guimond said.

Even if the town allowed three parcels it owns to be used for some of the replacement housing ” eliminating land costs ” the subsidy per unit would still be prohibitive, Guimond determined.

Now that Basalt knows its regulation won’t work, it must find an alternative approach. Officials from Basalt and the counties are scheduled to meet Aug. 26 to chart a course.

“Now that we have [the study], I don’t know what we want to do with it yet,” acknowledged Councilman Gary Tennenbaum.

The consultant’s conclusion might reinforce the position of Western Peak LLC, owner of the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park. Managing partner David Fiore has proposed providing replacement housing for all of his tenants on property near Basalt High School. Basalt officials have rejected that plan because the site is outside of the town’s urban growth boundary. Up to now, town officials have been unwilling to expand that boundary.

Fiore submitted his application to Pitkin County, and a review is expected in October.

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