Green Drake developers hope to avoid red light in Basalt
BASALT ” The owners of the only active development application frozen by Basalt’s growth moratorium are seeking an exemption from the Town Council.
The owners of the Green Drake motel filed an appeal with the town government July 2 and requested the opportunity to make a verbal pitch to the council. The owners have vested rights that should allow the application to proceed in the review process, the appeal claimed.
The developers’ letter to the town also said the case is one of “simple fairness and equity.” The development team met with town staff over a period of six months in a cooperative effort to ensure the application met town standards, the letter says.
“The applicant was very pleased to do so and is pleased with the mutually beneficial outcome of those efforts, but it also cost the applicant considerable time and money, which now seems to be unfairly coming back to hurt them,” says the letter from Mitch Haas, the developers’ land-use planner, and Charles Cunniffe, representative of the owners.
Green Drake Basalt LLC submitted an application in March to redevelop the downtown motel site. The town planning staff sought more information in April, and that information was supplied and the application deemed complete by town staff in May. The development team and town planner were scheduled to meet in June, but that session was canceled after the Town Council approved a surprise moratorium June 10.
The council acted quickly because it didn’t want to see a flood of new applications submitted, members have since explained. The nine-month moratorium stopped the review of any project that hadn’t received the first round of approval from the Town Council. Town Manager Bill Efting previously said the Green Drake was the only active application effected by the moratorium.
The council passed the measure to allow the town time to work on a possible growth management system and to rework affordable-housing requirements in its land-use code. Council members said they and the town staff need a chance to work on new rules without spending all their time reviewing development applications.
Haas and Cunniffe wrote that the Green Drake application should be allowed to move forward to allow a project that is “a qualified and quality development application that squarely meets many of the state’s objectives of the 2007 Master Plan Update.”
The developers applied to replace the 25-room motel with a project that mixes residences with retail and office space. The proposal is for 24 residences, including six affordable units; 10,600 square feet of retail and office space; and 21,000 square feet of underground parking.
The developers’ appeal also made a legal pitch as well as taking a fairness angle. They said Colorado’s vested-rights statute contends that a “site specific development plan” should be governed by the rules and regulations in effect at the time the application is submitted. So they claim their project should be allowed to move through the review process since it was submitted before the moratorium was in effect.
Basalt Town Attorney Tom Smith hasn’t had a chance to yet meet with the council to discuss the merits of the appeal. A hearing on the appeal has yet to be scheduled. Haas sought a speedy hearing. “It is with sincere respect that we seek this opportunity to personally explain why we feel an exemption would be appropriate,” his introduction to the appeal said.
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Development in Basalt barely skipped a beat in 2020 despite the coronavirus. It’s expected to be busier next year.