Take it slow on Basalt golf course expansion
Midvalley developer Jim Light makes a good point that a golf course and mix of affordable and high-end housing on 178 acres just east of the Basalt town limits is a good fit for the town. What could have a lower impact than nine holes of golf and about 50 residential units on so much acreage?But Basalt town officials have an even better point when they say they’d rather get residents involved than rush to approve Light’s request to expand the Roaring Fork Club. Some residents will be impatient with additional planning, but it’s a vital step for Basalt.Last week, Town Council members and planning commissioners tapped the brakes on the review process. The extra time will allow residents to weigh the idea of expanding the town’s urban growth boundary to include the property that Light and his partners want to develop, with nine new holes of golf and 24 new luxury fractional-ownership cabins.Currently, the Meyers and Kittle family ranches, where the Roaring Fork Club expansion is proposed, are outside the “urban growth boundary” set by residents and elected officials in the late 1990s as part of the town master plan. Although the plan is not a binding document, it does provide guidelines for future growth that have been approved by both residents and their representatives.Convening residents to look at the Kittle and Meyers properties, and how their development would affect Basalt is a good idea. Expansion of the Roaring Fork Club, like other major developments in the past, will have noticeable effects on the town. We need look no further than Basalt High School to see the effects of development that is not fully thought out. The town government and its residents had no real authority in the decision to build the high school on donated land across the Roaring Fork River and Highway 82 in what is now referred to as Basalt’s South Side. If they had, the hodgepodge of residential, commercial, industrial and public sector development – sprawl – that now marks south Basalt might have been avoided.By taking a breath and allowing residents to get involved, town leaders have virtually assured a better project. Who knows what great ideas might come from the citizenry?Chances are that those ideas, whatever they are, will help ensure that the club’s expansion fits the community. And that’s part of good governance.
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