Candidates sound off on growth
Editor’s note: We continue our election coverage with answers to the second of three questions to the candidates for Basalt Town Council. We will publish their final set of answers on page 3 in Friday’s Aspen Times.Chris SeldinAge: 34Neighborhood: Elk Run
Occupation: AttorneyYears in Basalt? Almost four years.I agree with the vast majority of people who responded to Basalt’s Community Survey: Basalt’s goal should be to stay at or below the roughly 5 percent growth rate we’ve experienced during the past five years. Achieving this goal will take serious commitment because we already have 374 approved units waiting to be built. Even if the town were to approve no new development (which it can’t legally do), these existing approvals will keep growth at current rates for the next five years. With this baseline – and with the town experiencing a surge in new applications – it’s easy to see how growth rates could skyrocket in the near future. Our challenge, therefore, is to keep growth slow and smart while respecting property rights. New development must pay its own way and not threaten Basalt’s small-town character. The Basalt master plan shows the way. It calls for protecting rural buffers, encouraging growth in the town core, and keeping our community vibrant with unique businesses and housing that working people can afford. Achieving these objectives requires strong voices who know the rules and will stand up for community values under pressure. My public-sector land-use background has prepared me to do this.Amy Capron
Age: 33Address: Between Elk Run and Arbaney ParkOccupation: Landscape architectYears in Basalt? 11 years in the valley, six years in the town of Basalt
I feel that the current growth rate of 5-7 percent seems to be at an acceptable level. Both the Community Survey and the P&Z have responded that this is a level they would like to see maintained. As more applications are introduced to the town, it is our duty to see that development respects the master plan, adds value to our community and maintains the core values we have created – such as small-town character and rural buffers. I believe that our biggest challenge is to maintain a balance between people’s right to develop and the community’s goals and desires as a whole.Joe ZuenaAge: 49Neighborhood: Elk RunOccupation: Property manager
Years in Basalt? 19 yearsThe rate of growth that has occurred since the adoption of the most recent master plan was slightly ahead of the desired goal of 5 percent. The most recent completed construction and construction under way of homes and mixed-use buildings are “infill” construction that was previously approved in allowed zoning areas. Willits and the Roaring Fork Club were the last two major developments that were annexed into the town. If the rate of citizens’ growth continues to be within the 5 to 7 percent range, and the development applications include businesses that generate sales tax revenue to the town, and not just residential units, then I would welcome the opportunity to have the development plan submitted for consideration. Gary TennenbaumAge: 35
Neighborhood: Elk RunOccupation: Pitkin County open space and trails land stewardYears in Basalt? Four yearsThere is a lot of concern among Basalt citizens about what the future holds for the town. Currently, there is a lot of development that is already approved but has not been built, and this will change the character of Basalt. The community survey had a majority of residents citing small-town character as their main concern about future growth in Basalt. Our current Basalt master plan outlines an urban growth boundary that contains areas for commercial, residential and mixed use development. If we adhere to these boundaries Basalt is limited as to where it can expand. I am a proponent of slow growth that will pay its own way. Basalt is currently undergoing an update to its master plan and will rethink the urban growth boundaries and types of zoning. As a council member, I will encourage the preservation of a rural buffer, protecting open space and working agricultural ranches, and only expanding the urban growth boundary to encourage attainable, family-oriented housing directly adjacent to existing neighborhoods.
Our current master plan lays a foundation for how Basalt should grow, and while updates are necessary, we must preserve our small-town character or the very reason most of us live here, which is a high quality of life, will be lost.Garret S. BrandtAge: 38Neighborhood: Willits
Occupation: AttorneyYears in Basalt? In the town limits since February 2005, in the midvalley since 1998.A discussion about specific rates of growth misses the point and distracts from the real issue of how and where to grow and keep the entire town connected. Much has been made of Basalt’s small-town character, which is not based so much on its actual size, but rather the people, individuals and families, who live and work here. Growth is both inevitable and necessary. It is council’s task to channel growth into areas that can support it, require the developers to pay for the impacts, and most importantly, connect new neighborhoods to each other and the town core.Good parks and trails make good neighborhoods by retaining the essence of why we live and raise families here. I believe we, as a town, have a duty to make new neighborhoods part of the greater community through parks and well-connected pedestrian and bike trails. This keeps our small-town feel and character, while allowing for pockets of growth to continue the vitality of the communityLimiting growth will not reduce people’s desire to move here. Council should carefully consider developments that enhance the town’s diversity, create economic benefits and provide public amenities consistent with encouraging a small-town atmosphere.
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