The future of Basalt by the numbers

Scott CondonAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT Basalt’s population would soar some 142 percent over the next several years under even the stingiest of five land-use scenarios under consideration by town officials.If Basalt officials grant a handful of proposals by developers to expand the town’s boundaries, population growth would be more like 176 percent, according to an analysis by a consultant for the town government.As Basaltines grind through the laborious process of updating the town’s land-use master plan, the population estimates make it clear that the debate isn’t about no-growth versus pro-growth – it’s about how much growth.”Even in our slowest growth scenario we’re looking at a considerable change in the nature of the community,” said Councilman Chris Seldin.Basalt’s town leaders and residents are examining five scenarios as part of the master plan update. Whatever is selected likely will guide town development patterns for five to 10 years and influence it for a longer period.The scenario with the slowest growth essentially maintains the 1999 land use master plan.That plan established a “tight” urban growth boundary and didn’t contemplate expanding town limits to accommodate growth. Land-use regulations in that plan favor job-generating uses so that Basalt residents have a chance to work closer to where they live.By sticking with that strategy, the town’s population would increase from the 2005 level of 3,170 to 7,683 over several years until Basalt is completely built out, according to estimates by Tim Malloy, a land-use planning consultant heading the town’s master plan update process.The town would add 1,763 residential units – ranging from McMansions to apartments – boosting the total to about 3,150. That includes units that are already approved but unbuilt and units that would be allowed under land-use regulations. About 1,390 residential units exist in Basalt today.If town officials stick with Alternative 1, the town would also add about 4,600 jobs by the time it is built out.The other four development options expand the town’s urban growth boundary – or the area defined as appropriate for growth – by varying degrees. Each of those alternatives would generate more jobs, new residents and homes than Alternative 1.Alternative 2 reflects expansion to accommodate proposals that developers have sought recently.Under that scenario, the population would climb from 3,170 to 8,746.The number of dwellings would increase from 1,390 to 3,568.Basalt would gain 4,970 jobs under the scenario.The town government is holding a hearing starting at 6 tonight at the Eagle County building in El Jebel to discuss the alternatives and collect public comments on them. Malloy and others will discuss the options in detail.Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said it’s important that residents understand how the different scenarios effect growth so they can weigh in on the debate. The town government posted summaries of the alternatives on its website, There is a link to the 2007 master plan update, then to the five land-use alternatives.Tennenbaum said town officials welcome input at the meeting, through e-mails or letters and through an upcoming survey. The questions are still being prepared, but the survey could be out later this month.Mayor Leroy Duroux said tonight’s meeting is open to all residents of the midvalley, not just those living in Basalt. This will be the final of three initial public hearings. Next, the Basalt planning commission will craft a draft master plan, then submit it to the town council. The two boards will ponder amendments before approving a final plan.”Hopefully the adoption will happen at the end of May, the first of June,” Duroux said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is


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