Club house request ends in `tit-for-tat’ compromise | AspenTimes.com

Club house request ends in `tit-for-tat’ compromise

The latest round of sparring between the Roaring Fork Club and Basalt Town Council ended with a compromise that didn’t seem to thrill either side.

The elected officials and club owners struck a deal Tuesday night that allows use of a new club house before construction of 22 units of affordable housing is completed. Initially, town officials insisted that the housing be ready for occupancy before the club house could be used for private parties or public events.

In granting the waiver, the council majority required the club to place deed restrictions on four of the 22 housing units. Those restrictions affect rents that can be charged and eligibility of tenants.

“I’ve been told on the street not to cave,” said Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens. “I don’t view this as caving.”

But Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt did. She said that the golf club partners and town officials negotiated a deal long ago that should be honored. Failure to do so would just send a message to other developers that any requirement is negotiable.

“I don’t think we say `never mind,’ ” said Whitsitt. “I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

The concept of trading use of the club house for deed restrictions on four housing units was also unappealing to Roaring Fork Club partner Jim Light. He objected to the means although not the ends.

He said he and his partners would have likely volunteered the deed restrictions, but didn’t like being forced to give them. It gives the appearance of a “tit-for-tat” arrangement, Light said. He preferred separating the issues.

David Burden, who is helping complete construction of the club, said the golf club partners were reluctant to offer the deed restrictions on housing while discussing use of the club house because it would look like “a bribe.”

Light maintained that the club partners have a good track record of working with the town on issues that benefit the public. He noted that the club performed about $40,000 of in-kind earthwork at Basalt High School to shape athletic fields when both projects were in an early construction phase.

He also noted that a golf tournament raised about $100,000 net proceeds for local charities last month.

Continued cooperation has to occur because it’s what both sides want, not because it’s dictated in written agreements, Light said.

“Don’t kill the spirit,” he urged the board.

Instead the board also killed the deal. It passed 4-3 with Mayor Stevens and council members Leroy Duroux, Tracy Bennett and Anne Freedman in support. Councilmen Steve Solomon and Chris Lane joined Whitsitt in opposition.

Lane indicated he wanted deed restrictions placed on more than four units of the club’s employee housing.

The council majority did pass a provision that allows the town to revoke permission for use of the club house if the employee housing isn’t completed in approximately eight months.


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