Carbondale P&Z still wrestling with Overlook development
December 19, 2008
CARBONDALE The Carbondale Planning & Zoning Commission on Thursday again continued its public hearing on the proposed Overlook Neighborhood. The next meeting will not be until late January.P&Z commissioners, after a fifth meeting on the proposed 169- to 221-unit, high-density residential development, were still not ready to make a formal recommendation to the Carbondale Board of Trustees.The commission is split on some of the density issues, but there are certain things they felt they could all agree with, Carbondale Community Development Director Doug Dotson after Thursday nights meeting.The project calls for between 169 and 221 smaller-scale residences, 40,000 square feet of new commercial space, and a possible 50-room hotel on the 12.9-acre former Mine Services property, located north of Town Hall between Merrill Avenue and the Rio Grande Trail. If the hotel is not built, additional multi-family residential units would likely be built.Among some of the key concessions being asked by developer CDale, LCC include narrower streets than typically allowed, a variance for building heights up 56 feet, rather than the 35 feet spelled out in town code, and a reduction in the usual open space requirement.There is some feeling among the commissioners that the buildings in the middle of the development (namely the hotel building) were too tall, Dotson said. Beyond that, some feel that the density is acceptable as its laid out.However, theres still no clear consensus on P&Z regarding a formal recommendation for approval or denial, he said.As this goes forward, we will take everything the planning commission has agreed with or not, and move toward making a recommendation, he said. The next likely meeting on the Overlook would be Jan. 29, however that date is tentative.John Foulkrod, an elected Carbondale trustee and one of the owners of the property, represents the developer as manager. He will recuse himself from the discussion when the proposal goes before the Town Council.The proposal is seeking high-density residential zoning for the property, which would allow between 16-18 units per gross acre. That would be roughly equivalent to the Carbondale South Condominiums, located between Carbondale Middle School and the firehouse.The P&Z previously agreed to reduce the common open space requirement and reduce the parking mitigation in favor of a higher density, close to downtown, near to transit, pedestrian friendly new urbanism development, town planning consultant James Knowlton wrote in a staff report presented to P&Z members Thursday.Density also has economic, social and environmental implications which are important to consider, Knowlton continued. Density is not a panacea for modern land use planning annd a vigorous conversation is important to understand both the advantages and disadvantages of high density, infill projects.On the plus side, he noted, Infill development can increase opportunities for neighborhood interaction and community cohesion. More people add vitality and diversity to a community.The other side of this social component is more people strain existing community resources such as schools and parks. More people mean more rules and regulations, Knowlton wrote in his report.