Snowmass Planapalooza continues to solicit community input
Crafting a policy plan for a resort municipality is no small — or cheap — task.
Though however challenging, time-consuming or expensive the process, it is a necessary one, as the Snowmass Town Council identified in 2015, when it adopted “update the town’s comprehensive plan” as a formal council goal, according to Town Manager Clint Kinney.
To help rewrite its plan, which is designed to direct the town’s decisions related to future growth, development, land-use policies and funding, Snowmass contracted Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative LLC for $200,000.
The Franklin, Tennessee-based, boutique firm first appeared before the Snowmass community at a meeting in the Town Hall chambers in late October.
In mid-January, Snowmass and the planning firm’s initiatives to update the plan, branded Plan Snowmass, continued with two “visioning sessions.”
At these workshops, the 140-plus attendees identified priorities including town connectivity, parking, open space and trails, employee housing and Snowmass’ identity as a community versus resort.
Last week, Plan Snowmass kicked off its next phase of communal engagement with “Planapalooza,” a six-day series of meetings and focus groups.
About 60 community members, including town employees and residents, participated in the first Planapalooza workshop Feb. 23 at the Snowmass Recreation Center.
At the workshop, Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative principal Brian Wright also lead a Q&A session, whereby some residents raised concerns related to increased development versus redevelopment.
Snowmass resident Kenan Forman said he “hates the idea of developing on the golf course when there are so many areas that could be redeveloped.”
“We have this amazing area and space, whether it’s for golf or not, and the thought of developing in this amazing city-center park, when we have so many poorly developed areas in Snowmass that couple redeveloped, is heartbreaking,” Forman said to the Snowmass Sun after the meeting.
Without looking to specific areas as examples, a few others at the meeting echoed Forman’s desire to improve the development of the town’s existing infrastructures versus developing more.
Wright used the opportunity to check that preserving the town’s land, a component of the current comprehensive plan, is still a communal goal.
“Does anyone want to move away from preserving land?,” he asked the audience, to which most chuckled.
Wright assured the 60 or so people in the room that this would remain a priority in the updated plan.
Amid the development conversation, an audience member expressed concern over Snowmass “trying to become the next Aspen” — a point that several people articulated at the inaugural Plan Snowmass meeting in October.
“We choose Snowmass over Aspen, we had a choice,” the Snowmass resident said, adding his fear of the village losing its “small-town character.”
On Feb. 24 and 25, the Plan Snowmass team held one-hour focus groups on specific topics, including public infrastructure, the environment, transportation, parking, economics and lodging. On Feb. 26, the team hosted an apres-ski themed meeting, which about 25 people attended, to check in and be sure it is on the right path.
Housing was one of the first subjects discussed, as a consultant with Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative said he has heard from the community that employee housing is “a high priority, maybe the highest priority.”
This statement was neither questioned nor contested by anyone in the room.
Revisiting the notion of development, Wright brought up the issue of what “just big enough” means to people.
“We can’t just do math; it’s sort of a touchy-feely kind of equation,” he said.
Matt Noonkester, a consultant for the firm working on the project, said the answer the team’s heard so far is that “as long as our quality of life doesn’t change,” to which people in the audience nodded in agreement.
Amid an informal discussion at the end of the meeting, former Snowmass Town Councilwoman Sally Sparhawk commended the group for its work thus far.
“I think it’s going well, and I think they’re doing a great job,” Sparhawk said to the Snowmass Sun after the meeting.
The Plan Snowmass team intends to release a draft of the comprehensive plan to the public by July, according to Sandrine Thibault, a director at Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative LLC.
It also will host an “open house type event” around that time, she said.
Thibault said she anticipates the final draft to be complete and in the hands of the Town Council and Planning Commission in October.
She noted, “the schedule could still change but this is what we had agreed on with the town.”
To stay up to date on the town’s efforts to update its comprehensive plan, visit http://www.plansnowmass.com.
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