Carbondale shops petition against major development
Some business owners and property owners in Carbondale are pushing their elected representatives to take decisive action on the proposal to build a massive mall on Highway 133.”We, the undersigned commercial property owners and owners and operators of Carbondale businesses, implore you, the town trustees, to look slowly and carefully at the Crystal River Marketplace proposal,” reads the opening of a petition that’s been circulating through town for the last week or so.As currently proposed, the 377,000-square-foot Crystal River Marketplace would include residential, retail and other commercial uses on a 25-acre parcel next to the Colorado Rocky Mountain School.”We know what happens when out-of-scale development hits a small town: Main Street is emptied,” the petition reads.It goes on to point out that major commercial developments in Basalt and Glenwood Springs are in various stages of the approval process, and once built, they are likely to siphon customers and sales away from the Crystal River Marketplace.About 65 people have signed the petition so far, said Scott Tesoro, owner of Sopris Chiropractic. He said copies will begin showing up in the windows of businesses around town over the next day or two to rally people for a town meeting on the proposal next Tuesday.But it doesn’t appear there is much the Carbondale board of trustees can do about the project, even if everyone in town shows up to oppose the project, says Carbondale Mayor Randy Vanderhurst. He said the underlying zoning gives the town no real authority to derail the project, or even subject it to review by the trustees.”We can’t even sign off on the proposal. We’re basically giving direction to the P&Z, which is what the public meetings are all about,” Vanderhurst said.A 1997 town ordinance specifically addressing development on the parcel in question gives the Carbondale planning and zoning commission authority to require mitigation for parking, lighting, landscaping and traffic flow. “The P&Z has the final say,” Vanderhurst said.Nevertheless, Tesoro says he and his fellow signatories want the trustees to step in before the project begins. “A lot of us question the feasibility of the project itself,” he said.One such feasibility question has to do with rumors that a major supermarket chain, perhaps Albertson’s, will anchor the mall. If it’s true, Carbondale, a town of roughly 6,000 people, would become home to three supermarkets.”How in the world is the town going to support three supermarkets?” Tesoro asked. “It’s not. Someone is going to go out of business and people are going to lose their jobs.”The project’s developers have also indicated they are considering a 12-screen theater, with as many as 1,600 seats. Many question the sanity of building a multiplex theater in a valley that in recent months has seen one theater chain file for bankruptcy and another fold up and leave town.”People say that if they build a 12-screen theater, it will go broke,” Vanderhurst said. “Well, this is America, and they have that right.”Teroso said he and other business owners would like to see the mall go through a review process known as planned unit development, which would give the town trustees the ability to review every aspect of the project.”What this petition is asking for is that the mall be subject to the planned unit development review process,” Tesoro said. “That would enable the trustees to dissect the project more thoroughly and approve it piece by piece.””The project is not a PUD,” Vanderhurst said. “I can’t envision a situation where the trustees say to the developers that they have to go through that process.”
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