Golf developers hope to escape the rough | AspenTimes.com

Golf developers hope to escape the rough

The developers of a Basalt golf course hope a well-aimed shot helps them out of the rough.The Roaring Fork Club partners asked the town government to put an application to expand their club by nine holes of golf and 24 luxury cabins on hold temporarily so more community land-use planning can be completed. A letter from managing partner Jim Light requested that the town update a master plan for the two ranches where the club wants to expand.Previously the developers said their application should be reviewed immediately since their plan complied with the master plan.The abrupt change in position follows a threat by a citizens group to mount a petition drive that could snuff the golf club’s expansion. The group says the Roaring Fork Club proposal should be on indefinite hold until the entire town’s master plan is updated. The master plan would determine what could be built on the ranches.In a letter received by the town Friday, Light and his partners counter-proposed that a smaller land-use study known as a “sub-area master plan” be undertaken.The distinction might sound insignificant but it could mean a difference of weeks, if not months, for the Roaring Fork Club. The update of the town’s master plan will take months. The update of a sub-area plan is expected to take only six to eight weeks.Light said he and his partners proposed the new direction because it’s the best way to collect public input and a timely decision. “It certainly hasn’t been our goal to divide the community,” he said.Light said the petition drive and the specter of an election didn’t force his actions.”This is not a fencing thing” where one side makes a thrust and the other group makes a counter-move, Light said. “That’s not what we’re about at all.”But members of the citizens group said they suspect the petition drive and possible election influenced the developers’ change of heart.”The timing makes it look like it was part of the consideration,” said Jacque Whitsitt, a former Basalt councilwoman. When do developers ask a government to delay the review of their application unless their hand is being forced, Whitsitt asked.Regardless of the motives, she commended Light and his partners for taking the step. The process lets the community plan the best use of the ranches without judging pros and cons of a specific application, she said.Light’s letter to the town said the developers hope the sub-area master plan for the Meyer and Kittle family ranches can get under way as soon as possible. Town officials suggested in earlier public meetings that planning would take six to eight weeks, Light noted in his letter.The review of the golf club’s application could take additional months.Originally the Town Council rebuffed a request by the citizens group to put the golf club’s application on hold until master planning could be finished. The council majority said it would review the application and update the master plan for that area at the same time.Critics claimed that jury-rigged process was doomed to failure because it wouldn’t give Basalt residents adequate input.The council will meet with the planning commission today to consider the developers’ request.Organizers of the citizens group said they don’t know yet if they will cancel or continue to pursue a petition drive.Jim Paussa, a member of the group, said he still thinks the review of the golf club application should wait until after the master plan for the entire town is completed because those plans work as a whole. “You can’t just pull out one component,” he said.Basalt’s direction should be dictated by “what’s best for the community, not a group of investors,” Paussa said.Light said he wants to invest time and money in meaningful planning, not fighting.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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