Snowmass Town Council scrutinizes school district housing plan |

Snowmass Town Council scrutinizes school district housing plan

Madeleine Osberger
Snowmass Village correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Ann Larson/Snowmass SunAspen School Board President Charla Belinski tours the Snowmass Village site where 15 new employee housing units are proposed. This week, Town Council members weighed in on some specifics of the plan.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Emboldened by an intergovernmental agreement signed recently with the Aspen School District, the Snowmass Village Town Council this week didn’t hold back on its criticism of the district’s proposed 15-unit staff housing project on Owl Creek Road.

The council’s input was delivered to members of the project’s team of designers and its planning representatives on Monday; for the first time in weeks, no one from either the district or Aspen School Board was in attendance.

While Town Attorney John Dresser told elected officials that the “state process exempts the school district from our (review) process,” he encouraged council members to air their concerns.

And so they did, criticizing various architectural details of three buildings to be constructed on slightly less than an acre of land between Anderson Ranch Arts Center and the Fairway 3 worker housing.

Councilwoman Markey Butler took issue with the proposed siding and nearly flat roofs depicted in the architectural sketches. Unimpressed with the monotone color scheme and disappointed by the lack of stone in the project, Butler implored project planner Julie Ann Woods to “pay attention to the materials.”

Woods said wherever possible the team used the town’s comprehensive plan as its blueprint and “to help us inform the decisions we were making.”

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In terms of project siting, building C, which was once situated about 29 feet away from a Fairway 3 building, is now about 46 feet away, or equidistant between those condominiums and Anderson Ranch. Project representative Mike O’Connor said the move was partly in response to a neighbor’s request, but he also said concerns of Anderson Ranch employees were taken into consideration.

Traffic impacts and the proposed parking plan were also the subject of scrutiny, especially in light of the recent development approval for the Snowmass Chapel. Other neighbors, including the Snowmass/Wildcat Fire Protection District and Anderson Ranch, have suggested they may also seek expansion approval for staff housing in the future.

The combined demands will likely mean the need for another bus shelter on the east side of Owl Creek Road. At present, riders use the end of the Meadow Ranch driveway as a de facto stop. Town transportation manager David Peckler said another shelter would be desirable, so the nearby shuttle stops aren’t overloaded with passengers.

“There is going to be an increase in use. Is this the nail in the coffin? I can’t say that either,” Peckler said.

While the town suggested the school district contribute some money for a new shelter, O’Connor wondered who would provide the land for it.

Parking remained a sore spot with elected officials. If the project includes 24 bedrooms, it probably needs 48 spaces, suggested Butler, though the district is proposing 32.

“The parking is going to be intense,” she said.

Woods said the school district plans to provide a van to service the complex and will add a second van if it’s needed.

If the district suffers a financial crunch, the transportation will fall on the town’s shoulders, predicted Councilman Arnie Mordkin. “Guess who then has to suffer the need for transporting those employees? We do,” he said.

Elected officials are planning to visit the housing property this week; the Town Council will have two more opportunities to review this project during a pair of meetings in November.

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