Carbondale residents decry threatened loss of small-town character
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE – Citizen concerns over the proposed Overlook Neighborhood development proposal mirrored those raised by trustees, with density and lack of a large central park topping the list.
In general, the current proposal for up to 200 houses on nearly 13 acres near the center of town, does not seem to fit in with Carbondale’s desires to maintain its small-town character as expressed in a 2007 community survey, several residents said at a continued public hearing on the mixed-use development proposal Tuesday night.
“I do feel that it is way too dense,” Patricia Phelan said before the town’s board of trustees. “I think we’re on the cusp of losing that small-town feel, which is so important.”
Added Kathy Zentmyer, “I don’t really feel that this plan is appropriate for Carbondale. It is appropriate for an urban area, but we aren’t really an urban area.”
The pair were among a handful of citizens who showed up to offer comments on the proposal to turn the former Carbondale Mine Services property, now zoned for industrial uses, into a mixed-use neighborhood.
The Overlook planned unit development calls for rezoning the 12.9-acre property north of downtown Carbondale into a mix of around 160 single- and multi-family houses and about 40,000 square feet of new commercial space.
A possible 50-room hotel is also proposed as a centerpiece of the project, but could be replaced by an additional 35 or so residential units if the hotel turns out to be not economically feasible.
Trustees at past meetings have indicated that the number of houses should be decreased in favor of more open space, including a large central park of some sort. They reiterated that point Tuesday, and added a number of other items that they would like the project’s architects to consider over the next month. The public hearing was continued until July 28.
One resident who spoke Tuesday indicated that the proposed density, and the development as a whole, is appropriate for the site.
“I support the plan, and am pretty intrigued by the idea of having a little more variety downtown,” Gavin Brooke, a local architect who is not associated with the project, said.
“This is not out of line with what we are relatively used to,” he said. “As far as small-town character, the writing is on the wall. That small town feel is going away. It’s part of the evolution of a rapidly changing resort area.”
The Overlook developer is John Foulkrod of C’dale LLC, a member of the town council who has stepped down during the Overlook discussions and has not been present at the hearings.
Meanwhile, town attorney Mark Hamilton warned the trustees to refrain from using e-mail to communicate thoughts about the Overlook and other land-use matters outside of the formal public hearing.
Several recent e-mail exchanges involving some trustees, project officials and citizens were entered into the record at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We are in a quasi-judicial process, where we make decisions based on evidence presented in this room,” Hamilton advised. “We have to maintain transparency … or it could jeopardize the ultimate decision.”
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