Snowmass Village Town Council officially adopts housing master plan

Plan’s approval provides overview — but not green light — for future housing development

Mountain View in Snowmass Village on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun)

The town of Snowmass Village officially has a housing master plan to meet its goal of adding 185 more units to its workforce housing stock after Snowmass Village Town Council voted to adopt the plan at a regular meeting Monday.

The approval comes at a time when the need for affordable housing in Snowmass Village — long a pressing issue for the town and a challenge for the local workforce — is proving even greater than ever.

“Our (rental) waiting list, which has been since I’ve come here consistently around 110 (people) … never seems to be much more or much less, maybe a few, all of a sudden has exploded to 140,” Housing Director Betsy Crum told the council this week.

The plan has been in the works for nearly two years; the town housing department first issued a request for proposals in late 2019 and began an extensive development process in early 2020. A preliminary version was first presented to council this spring, when members spent several weeks considering and offering input on the draft; the town’s planning commission voted unanimously in August to recommend approval of the master plan to council, according to town documents.

Five possible sites rose to the top in the master plan development process as some of the most viable opportunities to expand the housing stock.

Built-from-scratch proposals include the draw site behind Town Hall, which could host 90 units and 120 parking spaces, a plot next to the public works facilities on Owl Creek Road suitable for 12 units and 20 parking spaces, and the upper numbered lots, which could support 78 units and 89 parking spaces. At the upper numbered lots, the goal would be to preserve most of the existing 300-plus spaces for skier parking.

Two other proposals — one at the Carriage Way apartments and another along Daly Lane — would entail development where housing infrastructure already exists. The Carriage Way project could net 27 new units and 24 dedicated parking spaces with redevelopment of the existing building and creation of new structures for a total of 39 units and 75 spaces (some of which would be preserved for nonresident parking).

The Daly Lane project could add as many as 72 new units and 69 parking spaces. That project would be far more expensive than Snowmass Inn renovations likely to take place in 2022, which will update the hotel rooms that recently functioned as seasonal employee housing into studio units better suited for full-time, year-round living.

The town bought the property last year and as of Oct. 1 manages the units under the housing department umbrella; East West previously oversaw management of the building’s 41 units based on an agreement with the town.

Aside from the public works site, other projects listed would all likely struggle to meet current zoning regulations that require 1.5 parking spaces per unit for workforce housing, which is why Crum and Town Manager Clint Kinney suggested a lower parking-to-unit requirement could be helpful.

The parking equation has been a sticking point throughout review of the master plan, but the addition of more spaces comes at the cost of more units, Crum reiterated this week. Town staff and the planning commission could evaluate the parking situation on a “project-by-project” basis moving forward, Crum said.

Some local hospitality stakeholders connected to hotels on Carriage Way also have raised concerns about the impact of potential employee housing developments in the vicinity of properties like the Pokolodi Lodge and the Timberline Condominiums.

But council’s resolution to adopt the master plan does not inherently approve the details of any of the specific projects to develop new housing that are outlined in its 130 pages. It’s just an adoption of what Crum has previously called a “road map” to meeting the town’s goal of 185 more workforce housing units.

“This is a master plan, it’s not a specific proposal for specific sites to move forward at this point, although it is my intent — and you’ll see it in the budget for next year — to get started on the next site, which I recommend at this point be the draw site because of the impact on our need,” Crum said at Monday’s meeting.

The town’s proposed 2022 municipal budget has penciled in $500,000 for initial planning and design for the Town Hall draw site. There also is $600,000 allocated to improvements at the Snowmass Inn to bring the existing rooms there up to snuff with the town’s other studio unit housing stock.

The largest chunk of housing-related expenditures in 2022 will likely go toward initial construction on an exterior renovation at the town-owned Mountain View I apartments, which were built in 1990 on Hawk Ridge Lane and Deerfield Drive. The budget has allocated $4,000,000 for the project at the 92-unit complex in the coming year.

That budget is currently under review and will be a topic of conversation in council chambers for several more weeks before it gets the green light. Council members requested additional details on budgeted capital improvement projects — which include expenditures related to new workforce housing — before they move forward with approval. Town documents from the initial presentation set Nov. 1 as a possible date for budget adoption.

“This plan sets a great framework for the town’s housing work going forward. In addition to being a ‘roadmap,’ it also answers the question of where housing can be built,” Crum wrote in an Oct. 7 email. “I so often hear that ‘there’s nowhere to put housing,’ but these options can get us the units we need in areas that have already been designated for more development and will be consistent with the character of our Village.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment about the adoption of the plan that Crum sent in an Oct. 7 email.