Big question for Basalt: How much growth is too much?
As the deadline looms for Basalt to finish its master plan, Town Council members are intensely debating just how tough they want to get on growth.
A draft plan of amazing detail was unveiled this week that identifies exactly what the town government wants to see developed on private property around Basalt.
The draft also designates Basalt’s preferences for private property outside its boundaries but within what’s called its urban growth boundary. And it shows what properties the current administration deems appropriate for annexation into the town.
After the Town Council got its first glance at those draft maps Tuesday night, at least two board members questioned whether enough is being done to slow growth.
Councilwoman Anne Freedman indicated she’s more concerned about preserving Basalt’s small-town character than assuring developers get ample opportunities to build.
“Quite frankly, I think we could cover every square inch and still not meet the market needs, but we’d ruin the town,” said Freedman.
Councilman Chris Lane shared Freedman’s concerns. “This to me does seem like a lot of growth,” Lane said.
Although Basalt’s updated master plan is touted as a five-year blueprint for growth, Lane said it should really dictate development for the next 20 years.
Lane and Freedman favored keeping a lid on Basalt’s growth by keeping the town’s urban growth boundary at existing levels. That boundary identifies where the town would encourage or allow high-density development.
Town staffers’ calculations show Basalt is facing an incredible onslaught of development in town and within the urban growth boundary.
There are 284 “infill units” in platted subdivisions and developed areas that are approved but unbuilt.
Another 900 residential units are approved or in the review process.
Applications have been submitted or are anticipated for at least another 533 units within Basalt’s urban growth boundary, according to the staff’s research.
Councilman Leroy Duroux said there is no way all the development contemplated in the new master plan will occur in the next five years, regardless of whether it is labeled a five- or 20-year plan.
“If this all happens in five years, forget it. We’re all in big trouble,” Duroux said.
Mayor Rick Stevens noted that the current board could consider the new master plan a 20-year vision. However, the next board could ignore the document and pursue a different pace of growth.
The master plan provides more of a philosophical statement than an ironclad plan. This board and future ones can determine how closely it is followed through the regulations they pass.
Councilman Steve Solomon expressed enthusiasm in following the master plan that’s shaping up. While the Town Council is “tweaking” the plan, he credited the planning commission for coming up with a superb draft.
“This is tremendous,” Solomon said. “It’s going to be a great thing to work with.”
Developers and landowners haven’t had a chance to express whether they share that view, at least not since the maps identifying specific uses on specific parcels was released this week.
The council declined to take public comment at their work session Tuesday night. Comments will be welcomed, officials said, at an Aug. 9 meeting and again on Aug. 17 at a planning commission hearing.
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