Skico land purchase a $2 million miscue?
BASALT The Aspen Skiing Co. might have made a $2 million mistake in Basalt.The Skico bought a vacant parcel of land for $2 million along South Side Drive last month. It intended to use the site for affordable housing although it hasn’t prepared an application yet for the land, Skico attorney Dave Bellack said Wednesday.But building affordable housing there for workers in Aspen might not be easy. The site is designated in the Basalt land-use master plan as appropriate for a community facility. While working on an update of its master plan Tuesday night, the Basalt planning commission said the community-facility designation should be retained.Commission chairman Bill Maron said he didn’t feel that an out-of-town employer’s construction of affordable housing for its employees qualified as a community facility. It’s possible that Skico employee housing could be built at the site if it is combined with some type of facility with broader community benefit, he said.The master plan defines a community facility as something built by public or private institutions, such as government buildings, public or private schools, medical facilities, churches, and performing arts facilities.Affordable housing was identified as a possible sole use – but only for employees of a community facility located in the Basalt area.Planning commission member Brian Dillard said affordable housing would be appropriate on the site if it was for essential community workers, like teachers, police or firefighters.In a straw poll, the commission unanimously concluded Skico housing won’t work on the site, unless a community facility is also built there.Bellack wasn’t at the meeting but he was briefed by a colleague who attended. Bellack said he found it odd that the town government is urging construction of affordable housing within the town’s urban growth boundary, but has limited the potential on this site.Bellack said the limits on affordable housing on the site weren’t as clearly defined by the town when the Skico bought the land as they are now. He said the Skico will want to discuss the possibilities of the site more closely with town officials.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org