Carbondale expected to make decision on Village at Crystal River |

Carbondale expected to make decision on Village at Crystal River

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The biggest election night decision in Carbondale might not have anything to do with what’s on the ballot.

Carbondale’s town board is expected to render a long-awaited decision on the controversial Village at Crystal River (VCR) development at a special meeting Tuesday.

A continued public hearing on the proposed VCR Planned Unit Development and Community Impact Assessment is the lone action item on the agenda for the meeting.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. tonight at Carbondale Town Hall, 511 Colorado Ave.

The VCR is the long-debated mixed-use commercial development proposed by Denver developer Rich Schierburg for 24 acres west of State Highway 133 and north of Carbondale’s Main Street.

It calls for 125,000 square feet of retail space, anchored by a new 58,000-square-foot City Market grocery store, plus 15,000 square feet of office space and up to 164 residential units.

Other allowed commercial uses include a gas station, bank and fast-food restaurant. Later development phases, depending on market demand, could include a hotel, medical facility, senior care facility, school or light manufacturing.

The property is where a previously proposed 250,000 square-foot big box retail development got shot down by town voters in a divisive citizen-initiated election eight years ago.

Again, some citizens have suggested that the proposed development again go to a townwide election if the town board approves. At least one trustee, Frosty Merriott, indicated at a meeting earlier this year that he may offer a motion to refer the question to voters.

For now, though, the decision whether to approve, approve with a long list of conditions, or deny the project rests with the Carbondale Board of Trustees.

At an Oct. 4 meeting, trustees worked through the last remaining issues that still needed to be resolved.

A host of conditions related to open space and parks, housing requirements, parking, phasing, vested development rights, Highway 133 improvements, and 1 percent public improvements fee (PIF) to pay for off-site improvements are contained in a proposed ordinance that would grant approval to the project.

Also on the table for consideration tonight is a point-by-point analysis of the proposed sustainability requirements prepared by the town’s energy consultant, Dan Richardson of Schmueser Gordon Meyer, a Glenwood Springs engineering firm.

The development plan calls for the grocery store and other parts of the project to be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Energy Star standards. However, formal LEED certification would not be sought.

“If all of the conditions … are met, the project would be above typical construction standards in terms of green building quality,” Richardson concluded in his analysis.

However, the Village at Crystal River would not be as energy efficient as comparable grocery stores recently built in other parts of the country by Cub Foods, Whole Foods, Food Lion and Hannaford Supermarkets, he said.

It would also not be as energy efficient as recently built buildings in the Roaring Fork Valley, such as the Basalt Library, the Carbondale Recreation Center and the Third Street Center, Richardson said.

One sustainability commitment by developer Schierburg that Richardson said goes “above and beyond a best practice standard” is an agreement to dedicate 25 percent of public park space at the VCR to urban farming.

“This condition will make it easier for the residents (and perhaps other community members) of the project to grow their own food if they so choose,” Richardson wrote in his analysis.

A public hearing allowing for comments on the development proposal will remain open at Tuesday’s meeting until the board chooses to close the hearing.