Carbondale town trustees OK Village at Crystal River | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale town trustees OK Village at Crystal River

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The Village at Crystal River development will be put to a vote of the Carbondale electorate following a vote by a deeply divided town board of trustees on Tuesday evening.

After a public hearing that lasted more than four hours, with testimony from dozens of citizens just as divided as the trustees , the board voted 5-1 to approve the project, but to also put an ordinance codifying that approval to a vote of the people for ratification or rejection.

The trustees’ final vote came after two unsuccessful motions, both producing tie votes. Trustee John Foulkrod recused himself from consideration of the issue over perceptions of a conflict of interest.

The first motion, by Trustee John Hoffman, proposed simply to refer the matter to the voters, but without an ordinance approving the development as part of the ballot question.

Trustees Hoffman, Frosty Merriott and Pamela Zentmeyer voted in favor of that motion, while Mayor Stacey Patch Bernot and Trustees Ed Cortez and Elizabeth Murphy voted no.

A second motion, to approve the project as presented at the meeting, went down to defeat as well, and by the same division of votes.

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The third motion, by Merriott, was to approve the project by ordinance, but then put the ordinance to a popular vote.

Bernot broke the deadlock first, voting along with Merriott, Hoffman and Zentmeyer to approve the motion, and Cortez followed the mayor’s lead. Murphy was the lone dissenting vote.

The vote parallels a board decision eight years ago to approve the first proposal to develop the 24-acre site along Highway 133, by one-time developer Brian Huster.

That decision was challenged by a citizen petition championed by a group known as the Town Mothers, and voters overturned the trustees’ approval.

Town attorney Mark Hamilton advised the board that a special election on the question could take place some time in the next two months.

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

jcolson@postindependent.com