Snowmass council holds off on second approval of Coffey Place, plans visit to housing site
After a lengthy discussion related to land-use and ownership concerns, Snowmass Town Council pushed pause on the new Coffey Place employee-housing project Monday afternoon.
Council instead decided on a site visit to the planned development area and further Coffey Place discussion at their next regular meeting in September.
“I’ve been down there a few times to scope things out but there are no markers so it’s hard to visualize,” councilman Bill Madsen said. “We should do a site visit.”
At the most recent meeting, the town council was tasked with a second reading of a rezoning ordinance related to the new deed-restricted employee housing project, named in honor of longtime housing director and beloved community member Joe Coffey.
On Aug. 5, Town Council approved the first reading of the ordinance for the project, which will add six two-bedroom duplexes, one ADA accessible single-family home and 10 detached single-family units in three areas along Stallion Circle.
The first is near the entrance of the Rodeo Place subdivision where an open space area is now, the second is adjacent to the Town Park tennis courts and the third on the northeast portion of the former Seven Star land parcel, according to town documents.
These three areas will be rezoned to match the multi-family zoning regulations of the Rodeo Place housing, as the town aims to fit the new Coffey Place units into the existing neighborhood from a design and density standpoint and with little impact to the surrounding natural environment.
“As with many in-fill projects in mountain towns, there has been no shortage of challenges in ‘tucking in’ housing in the Stallion Circle neighborhood,” housing director Betsy Crum wrote in a council agenda item summary presented Monday.
“However, the team has addressed each one and the final result is appealing, high-quality homes developed in a manner that fits well with the surrounding neighborhood and natural environment,” the summary reads.
Although Snowmass Town Council went with the planning commission’s and town staff’s recommendations to approve the first reading of the Coffey Place ordinance Aug. 5, council members and Snowmass locals Monday brought up a multitude of lingering development concerns, which led council to hold off on a second approval.
Some of the concerns included the subdivision’s placement adjacent to wetland and wildlife sensitive areas, and to steep slopes with grades greater than 30%, along with density, traffic, parking and pricing concerns.
“Density is a big thing. That’s why I moved from one duplex to another,” said a Rodeo Place resident. “I’d like you to come down, do a visit and look at the density.”
Another topic included pricing of the new deed-restricted homes, which was discussed separate from the land-use concerns during the administrative reports section of the Monday meeting.
As laid out by Crum, the total design, engineering and construction cost for Coffey Place is estimated at $14.7 million total, which divides out to an average purchase price of $865,000 per home.
However, the $3.3 million subsidy allocated by the town to the Coffey Place project in 2017 knocks off about $194,000 from each unit price, meaning the homes could range from roughly $550,000 to $866,000, according to Crum’s calculations.
Crum went on to deduce that the minimum incomes a Snowmass employee would need to purchase the Coffey Place units would roughly range between $111,000 and $175,000 per year.
But while Crum argued Monday that there is a 1,300-unit need in Aspen and Snowmass for homes in this price range, referred to as the “missing middle” in the recent Greater Roaring Fork Regional Housing Study, many council members and public commenters felt these prices were too high.
“I think we need to take a step back and ask who are we building these units for? People employed in Snowmass Village?” asked councilman Bob Sirkus.
Town officials responded by stating they were confident in the local need for family homes at these prices, and that the council could vote to increase the subsidy amount put toward Coffey Place to lower prices for potential buyers, namely by allocating roughly $1.5 million in excise tax funds for the project.
“To me, I think this is an easy one. … We’re a wealthy community and should be doing everything we can to take care of our employees,” Madsen said of increasing the subsidy amount.
Around the two-and-a-half hour mark, Town Council agreed to resume Coffey Place discussions at the Sept. 3 regular meeting, after gathering on its meeting-free Monday, Aug. 26, for a project site tour.
Council members will meet for the tour, which is open to the public, at the Town Park tennis courts at 4 p.m.
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