Survey results show change in Basalt
Basalt is getting older, richer and attracting a higher number of newcomers compared with seven years ago, according to a profile painted by a recent community survey.Despite those changes, the concerns of many town residents have remained the same. Keeping growth at or below its current rate and preserving the small-town character are still the leading issues.Results of a new community survey were unveiled this week as Basalt prepares to update a land-use master plan – a guiding document that helps shape the future of the town. The last survey was conducted in 1998 as part of the master plan.One difference between the surveys that jumps out is the drastic graying of Basalt. About 10 percent of Basalt’s population was aged 45 through 64 in 1985. By 1998 that figure climbed to 36 percent. The latest poll shows that 46 percent of registered voters who were surveyed are now in that age category.The average resident is also much more wealthy than seven years ago. In 1998 the number of households with an annual income of more than $70,000 was 35 percent.The latest survey showed that 64 percent of respondents said their “family” made $75,000 or more annually.The length of residency has declined over the seven years. In 1998, 18 percent of respondents said they had lived in Basalt for less than three years. In 2005, that number increased to 21 percent.Seven years ago, 41.5 percent of respondents said they had lived in Basalt for 11 years or more. This year that dropped to 34 percent.The latest survey was conducted for Basalt by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. Linda Venturoni, director of special projects for the organization, said comparisons of results from the different surveys might not be valid. She said her survey was a scientific sample of the town while the 1998 survey was more like “an opinion poll.”In the latest survey, three distinct groups were targeted. In addition to sending surveys to a sample of registered voters, surveys were also sent to property owners and business owners, regardless of whether they live in Basalt. Results were separated among the three groups.When they were asked to identify the top issues facing Basalt, preservation of small-town character was the top issue for all three groups. Roughly 75 percent of all respondents picked it from a list as the leading issue.There was no definition of what it means to preserve small-town character. Preservation of a rural buffer around town was the second most popular reply by voters and property owners. A healthy economy was the second highest concern for business owners.When respondents were asked to indicate their “preferred growth strategy” for the town, voters and property owners favored slowing growth by a slight margin over keeping it the same. Business owners were slightly in favor of growing at the same rate over slowing it down.Among registered voters, 39 percent want less growth; 34 percent want the same growth as now; and 17 percent want more growth “but with some controls.”On the fringes were proponents of no growth, 6 percent, and those preferring no growth controls, 1.7 percent.Another question on growth made it clear that Basaltines want a rural buffer ringing the town. Among voters and business owners, 47 percent of each group said it is of “great benefit” to have “restrictions on location and type of development in rural areas.” Nearly 42 percent of property owners also assigned “great benefit” to the rural buffer.On the other end of the spectrum, 7 percent or less of each group said a rural buffer was of “little benefit.” The remainder were somewhere between.Basalt is currently reviewing an application from the Roaring Fork Club that would place 32 luxury cabins, 13 single family homes and 34 affordable housing units on ranch land between Elk Run subdivision and Holland Hills.Even with the survey results, it’s difficult to assess if residents view a proposal to construct 79 residences as preserving a rural buffer. Preserving a rural buffer wasn’t defined in terms of prohibiting growth or allowing limited growth.The Town Council and planning commission saw the results of the survey for the first time Thursday night. They listened to a presentation but didn’t have a chance to offer feedback on the findings.A public presentation of the survey results will be held Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. at Basalt Middle School.Town meeting on housingThe town of Basalt will host a meeting Monday on the affordable housing project proposed as part of the Roaring Fork Club’s expansion.The club has proposed building 34 units that could be partially used to relocate families from the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park. The town’s top priority is to move families there “out of harm’s way” from potential flooding of the Roaring Fork River. A town consultant’s study showed the trailer park faces significant risk from a major flood.The location of the housing on the Meyer Ranch, the design of the project and the need will be discussed at the open house. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at Basalt Town Hall.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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