Roaring Fork Club owners teed off
November 16, 2006
The Roaring Fork golf club owners are licking their wounds and assessing what to do next after the Basalt Town Council’s surprise vote Tuesday night to reject their expansion proposal.Managing partner Jim Light said he was certain the ownership group won’t file a lawsuit against the town. He was uncertain whether the group would submit a new development application.Light said there are six individuals beside him in the ownership group and one “minor” institutional partner. Each needs to be polled before the group charts a course. The polling will continue through this week, he said.Light said he was “surprised” and “disappointed” by the council’s decision. He thought there was going to be an ongoing dialogue on some unresolved issues – not a vote on Tuesday.Although no vote was scheduled, the council majority concluded the expansion proposal didn’t comply with the town’s land-use master plan, a blueprint for where and how the town will grow. The council voted 5-1 to direct the town staff to prepare documents of denial. Mayor Leroy Duroux was in the minority. Councilman Mark Kittle abstained because his family owns land included in the proposal.Light and Jeff Jones, the project manager, said they weren’t sure all the council members listened to their team’s presentation Tuesday on how the application conforms with the town master plan.”The decision seemed like it had been made before the meeting, to us,” Jones said.Light said at least one member read a statement that obviously was prepared before Tuesday’s meeting and discussion.The club’s attorney, David Myler, gave a lengthy presentation to the council Tuesday night explaining how the development team felt the application complied with the vast majority of the town master plan. The one area where it didn’t comply was on what’s known as an urban growth boundary – or the area identified as desirable for growth.The Roaring Fork Club wanted to add 32 luxury cabins, 18 single-family homes and 36 affordable housing units on 200 acres east of Basalt’s Elk Run subdivision. The club already has an 18-hole golf course, 48 cabins and 12 suites.Much of the land eyed for the expansion is outside of the urban growth area.Myler claimed the council could approve the application despite the nonconformance with the urban growth boundary.”It’s fairly clear in Colorado that master plans are advisory,” he told the council. General consistency is the standard, Myler said, and strict conformance cannot be enforced.Light maintained through 27 months of review that the project provided numerous community benefits – most notably the affordable housing could be used for essential community workers and help remove people from a trailer park perennially threatened by flooding.Residents who attended hearings in recent months were split over the project. A crowd supported the club, saying it has been a great community member that supports numerous civic causes. Other proponents said additional second homeowners would be a boon for the town economically.Foes countered that citizens put a lot of time and effort into the master plan, so it should be followed unless it is amended in a process that promotes high citizen involvement.The town planning commission is working on an update of the master plan. The Roaring Fork Club controversy will probably spark citizen interest in that process later this winter.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.