Future plan for Basalt: death? | AspenTimes.com

Future plan for Basalt: death?

Basalt officials touted their proposed new master plan last night as a great blueprint for future growth, but an angry landowner labeled it “the death of the town.”

The difference of opinion occurred when the Town Council and the planning commission gave the public its first chance to comment on maps that define what the town would prefer to see developed on specific pieces of property.

Aspenites Dan and Lynne Levinson didn’t like what they saw on their property, which includes the Taqueria el Nopal west of downtown.

They angrily pointed out that 75 percent of their land along the Roaring Fork River is designated as open space in the master plan. Dan Levinson warned town officials they were making a big mistake by “branding” property and potentially snuffing creative planning.

“I’m sitting here and watching the town die tonight,” said Levinson. “This is not planning. This is death to this town.”

Lynne Levinson noted that the town’s designation for the property would chase away Chaffin and Light Partners, Snowmass Village-based developers who have an option on the Levinson parcel. “By making us green [signifying open space] you’re putting a scarlet `A’ on our chest,” she said.

The result is the town will end up with the “same crap” that’s been on their land for the last 20 years, Dan Levinson said.

The Levinsons repeatedly urged the board to change the designation of their land and show some flexibility.

And board members repeatedly tried to assure the Levinsons they will show flexibility. The master plan map shows the town’s preference, said Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt, but it doesn’t preclude a landowner from making a pitch with a creative, well-reasoned application for something different.

Mayor Rick Stevens said planning for riverside property is essentially on hold anyway. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing new maps on flood plain and flood way lands. Those maps will determine the availability of federal flood insurance and strongly influence Basalt’s land-use planning along the rivers, said Stevens.

He said the board is unwilling to grant approvals that could leave future homeowners flooded with no developers around to bail them out.

Members of both the Town Council and planning commission took turns expressing different ways they believe the master plan will help the town. Stevens said he hoped that defining specific uses on specific properties would help end speculative land-buying that threatens the midvalley and continues to plague Aspen.

By showing what the town officials would like to see and what properties are deemed appropriate for annexation, prices won’t be driven up by speculators flipping property and gambling that they can talk the government into approving an application, Stevens said. Plus, current landowners can still receive more than they could for raw land, Stevens claimed.

An open house will be held Tuesday, Aug. 17, to display the maps and collect public comments. People are encouraged to stop in Town Hall between 4 and 6:30 p.m.

The town boards are on pace to have the master plan adopted by Tuesday, Aug. 31.

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