Snowmass council votes to go forward with amended Coffey Place housing plan

A preliminary site plan for the new Coffey Place housing project off of Stallion Circle in Snowmass. On Tuesday, town council voted to move forward with the project and its related rezonining ordinance, but eliminated Lots 13 and 14 (the two homes on the far right of the plan image).
Courtesy photo

Snowmass Town Council approved the second reading of the rezoning ordinance related to the Coffey Place affordable housing project Tuesday evening, moving it forward to the construction phase.

But the ordinance approved wasn’t the same one council discussed at its last regular meeting Aug. 19.

Tuesday’s council-approved ordinance included an amendment introduced by town housing director Betsy Crum at the start of the evening’s public hearing, which eliminated Lots 13 and 14 from the Coffey Place project.

“My philosophy is that housing we build in this community should be tucked in as much as possible,” Crum said. “These two lots were much farther down and out than the rest of the development and I felt that the impact for the people leaving the community and coming in would be hard to fit in in that tucked in way.”

Crum explained that her and the project planning staff’s decision to eliminate the two lots, which were two of the larger and more expensive deed-restricted units, stemmed from the Town Council’s Coffey Place site visit Aug. 26.

“I’m really grateful that the council asked us to stake it and put the story poles up. … I’ve probably been down there five or six times walking it myself,” Crum said. “It seemed logical when we were planning it but I think to see it and to think about what’s right for the town, we think (eliminating Lots 13 and 14) is what’s best for the town.”

Many council members expressed similar thoughts to Crum, agreeing with her decision to eliminate the two lots planned on the Seven Star land parcel and preserve the area as open space.

Crum and project officials said they plan to meet with Roaring Fork Fire Rescue officials to determine if a hammerhead turnaround is still needed for first responders in the area now adjacent to Lots 9-12; that the Lot 13 and 14 area will still be rezoned to “multi-family,” even though there will be no housing development; and that the Seven Star multi-use trail should no longer be affected by the Coffey Place housing project.

The other major topic of discussion related to the Coffey Place land-use ordinance was around the first three units planned near the entrance of Stallion Way on a slope greater than 30%.

Council expressed concern with the stability of the slope, and planners explained that the planned retainment walls directly behind the three units will strengthen the entire hillside, having no negative impacts on the surrounding Rodeo Place homes.

But although the density concerns seemed to be partially addressed with the elimination of Lots 13 and 14, and the slope development was further explained, some council members were still hung up on the type of housing Coffey Place would provide.

“It’s my feeling there’s a greater need for rental housing than deed-restricted housing,” Councilman Bob Sirkus said. “So I am wondering why we couldn’t or wouldn’t change the duplexes from deed-restricted to rental units.”

Sirkus’ concerns led the council to table their decision on the amended land-use ordinance and move right into ownership discussions, including how much the deed-restricted units would cost with an increase in the subsidy the town provided.

As requested at the Aug. 19 regular meeting, Crum broke the projected unit costs down further Tuesday to show what Coffey Place affordability would look like if the town upped the housing project’s subsidy by both $1 million and $1.5 million from the initial $3.3 million approved.

At the $4.3 million subsidy level, the Coffey unit purchase prices would range from $514,945 to $810,614; and at the $4.8 million level, the purchase prices would range from $490,816 to $772,631, Crum’s calculations showed.

A few members of the public spoke during the Coffey Place public hearing about concerns brought up by locals at previous meetings, including density, ownership and the speed the town was moving forward with the new housing project, which were taken up again by council.

But a different voice spoke from the public comment podium Tuesday, representing a family interested in purchasing a Coffey Place unit.

“Without suggesting you should rush into anything, people need housing,” the interested buyer said to council. “And for every year that I don’t have another house, it’s another $72,000 in rent that I’m paying right now. Just a thought.”

After some discussion, council unanimously decided to keep the Coffey Place homes deed-restricted so they better blended with the existing Rodeo Place neighborhood, agreed to pursue a $1.5 million subsidy increase and ultimately moved forward with the new housing project.

As soon as the rezoning ordinance becomes official and the town receives its necessary building permits, Crum said crews will start on subsurface utility installation, lot excavation and hopefully pour a few foundations before winter hits.

Crum hopes to have the first Coffey Place units sold by the end of 2020 and expressed her excitement for the potential owners after the public hearing.

“I’m thrilled we are moving forward with the project and moving into the next stage,” Crum said.