Proposed Rocky Mountain Institute center wins Basalt council’s approval
Rocky Mountain Institute’s proposed Innovation Center and office building sailed through the first of two approvals it needs from the Basalt Town Council Tuesday night.
The council voted, 6-0, to grant the first round of approval, formally called sketch plan, to RMI’s facility. The office and center is proposed where Taqueria el Nopal restaurant is currently located west of downtown. Town officials are working with the owner of the popular restaurant to find a place for it to relocate.
RMI is seeking approval for a two-story, 15,610-square-foot building in the first phase, with rights for a 4,400-square-foot expansion. RMI is a nonprofit organization that is world renowned for its energy-efficiency work. Its application said it intends to build a facility that will draw visitors to Basalt to learn more about its design and high-efficiency performance. It will hold workshops and educate the public about its work and innovative building technique, according to the application.
RMI sold its current Roaring Fork Valley headquarters at the Windstar property. It must eventually vacate that location in Old Snowmass.
In other council action Tuesday night, the board approved spending $59,799 in funds returned to Basalt as a rebate from Holy Cross Energy. The utility cooperative returns an annual amount equal to 1 percent of the electricity sold in the corporate limits of Basalt. The funds must be used for community-enhancement projects.
Basalt selected three projects this year. A grant of $46,000 was given to assist installation of a new playground at Basalt Elementary School. Another $8,799 in grants was awarded to the elementary, middle and high schools for technology upgrades.
The council also approved spending $5,000 to “assist in promoting U.S. Pro Cycle Challenge when going through the town.” Town Manager Mike Scanlon said the Downtown Business Association urged the town to lobby race organizers to route the race through Basalt on Two Rivers Road in August. Day two of the event will feature a race from Aspen to Mount Crested Butte. The race will travel down the valley to Carbondale, then up the Crystal Valley to McClure Pass, then carry on to Kebler Pass and Crested Butte.
Scanlon said he would attend a meeting with Pitkin County and Aspen officials Wednesday to express Basalt’s interest in routing the race through the core. The business association members feel it will bring good exposure for Basalt.
The council also agreed to a holding pattern on recreational marijuana regulations. The town staff memo suggested an extension was needed for a current moratorium on recreational pot operations. Scanlon clarified that he is working to get the regulations in place by using Carbondale’s rules as a model.
Basalt had moratoriums on both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana outlets to start the year. The medical marijuana moratorium was lifted. However, no parties have applied yet for the two available medical marijuana licenses, Scanlon said.
Basalt’s recreational marijuana moratorium expires June 26. Scanlon said he might ask the council for a one-month extension at the May 13 meeting so he and Police Chief Greg Knott have time to finalize proposed recreational pot shop rules.
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The Aspen Institute will for the first time in its history contribute to the affordable housing inventory by offering to buy housing credits for its new Herbert Bayer center.