Riverside builders may soon back off | AspenTimes.com

Riverside builders may soon back off

The Basalt Town Council is considering some proposals to preservehabitat for wildlife.Council members are considering increasing the minimum buildingsetback off its rivers from 30 to 50 feet. That means no developercould come within 50 feet of a river with any part of a buildingwithout an exemption. The setback is part of a proposed overhaul of regulations concerningrivers, wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas. Officials with the Basalt-based, nonprofit Roaring Fork Conservancyhave lobbied hard to get the setback boosted. “The implications that this would have for our rivers is tremendous,”said Conservancy board of directors member Chris Myers. Director Andre Wille noted that the habitat is so good along somestretches of the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers in Basalt thatit attracts eagles. “If we’ve got bald eagles that land right on our trees downtown,we better try to keep them,” said Wille. Basalt Councilman Chris Lane suggested evidence shows the setbackshould be even greater than 50 feet. He noted that the town haddebated a greater distance at one time. “I consider 50 feet acompromise,” he said. He doesn’t want to compromise. Instead he wants the setback tobe at least 60 feet. Basalt planner Glenn Hartmann said the proposed ordinance reservesthe town’s right to require a greater setback on particularlysensitive properties. Basalt area businessman Dave Slemon countered that the distanceshould also be smaller in some cases. The setback is certainlyappropriate in rural areas, but isn’t necessary along the riversin the downtown core, he said. If redevelopment is ever contemplated for properties along theriver, the setback requirement could snuff projects that benefitthe town, according to Slemon. “You need room for imagination there,” he said. Basalt Councilman Leroy Duroux said the appropriate distance ofsetback should depend on the quality of existing habitat. Healthyhabitat should require a greater setback. Places that don’t providehabitat for wildlife don’t need as great a distance. Conservancy board member Bob Jacobson suggested that a liberalsetback be established as the standard, with the provision forvariances. “Nobody’s out to destroy anyone and their property,” he stressed.The town staff is still fine-tuning the rules for wetlands, riversand environmentally-sensitive areas, so the council wasn’t askedto make a final decision Tuesday.

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