Snowmass Town Council continues Fanny Hill review; gives further direction on Town Park redesign; hears master housing plan update
After a site visit to the Fanny Hill cabins development area, Snowmass Town Council met for a special meeting in the Town Hall council chambers Oct. 12 to discuss proposed changes to the Fanny Hill project; give town staff direction on the finalized master plan for the Snowmass Town Park redesign; and go over more details on the in-progress town master housing plan. Here’s the recap:
REVIEW OF CHANGES TO FANNY HILL project
Snowmass Town Council continued reviewing the proposed changes to the approved Fanny Hill cabins development project Oct. 12.
Council discussion focused on the safety of and expected headlight glare on Crestwood Condominium units from cars pulling out of the project’s slightly shifted subterranean parking garage entrance; and parking, transportation and general use of the proposed pullout lanes along Wood Road in front of the development.
At its regular meeting Oct. 5, council first began reviewing the proposed Fanny Hill project changes, which include developing the planned residential condos as 10, detached three- and four-bedroom single-family units instead of two townhouse-style buildings of five units each as originally approved; moving the entrance of the parking garage downhill about 25 feet; rezoning the area to “multi-family”; and making a lot line adjustment, as previously reported.
On Oct. 12, council did a walk-through of the development site, which is planned adjacent to Wood Road below the current Aspen Skiing Co. on-mountain operations facility on the east side of Fanny Hill.
Afterward, members asked questions about and talked through some of their observations, including traffic visibility and safety as a result of the proposed shift of the project’s parking garage entrance; and how outgoing traffic from the parking garage at night would result in headlight glare on Crestwood Condominiums units across the Wood Road.
A few council members expressed concerns with the swing of a car’s headlights across the Crestwood units as they turn out of the proposed garage entrance and down Wood Road toward the village center, and with visibility of Wood Road traffic from the shifted garage entrance location, especially in winter weather conditions.
Andy Gunion of East West Partners said Snowmass Ventures developers are willing to work with the Crestwood to mitigate headlight glare, potentially including tinted windows in the units impacted and increased landscape buffering. He also said that Wood Road traffic visibility of vehicles coming down toward the village from above the garage is the same in both the old and new entrance locations: 5.3 seconds away.
“When you’re on the curve, whether you move up or down, the sight lines stay fairly constant,” Gunion said.
But while much of the Oct. 12 discussion focused on traffic flow and transportation — including council directing the developer to better define how the proposed pullout areas on Wood Road would be used and managed — Councilman Bob Sirkus also expressed concern with the developer’s request for 10 years of vesting for the Fanny Hill project.
Sirkus said he feels the developer should get five years of vesting rights instead of 10, emphasizing that he feels the project “just needs to get finished.”
“This is a relatively simple project given what we have been asked to review for the remainder of Base Village,” Sirkus said, noting that the Fanny Hill project was amended in 2016 as well.
“… Honestly, I am tired of this, I am tired of this project being presented as something that’s important and necessary and has to be done right away and then it doesn’t get done. So, I would ask my fellow councilors to consider a five-year vesting for this project.”
Many council members agreed with Sirkus’ remarks, and Gunion said a five-year vesting rights agreement “should be fine.” Gunion also said developers intend to start Fanny Hill project construction in April 2021 in conjunction with construction of Building 11 in Base Village.
Town staff plans to bring back a resolution for initial review and approval of the proposed Fanny Hill project changes to the Oct. 19 regular council meeting.
TOWN PARK REDESIGN NEEDS MORE RODEO CONTESTANT PARKING
About a month after giving staff the go ahead to move toward finalizing the Town Park redesign plan, Town Council asked for a few additional changes.
At its Sept. 16 meeting, council members agreed that the redesign — which slightly reorients the Snowmass Rodeo arena, includes additional field space, a new wetland recreation area and various other improved park amenities — was moving in the right direction and that town staff should start on final planning documents for the project, including more detailed design, estimated costs and a phasing plan.
On Oct. 12, staff came back with a final presentation before moving toward more final documents and drafting a resolution for council approval of the redesign.
But after receiving a letter from Darce Vold, executive director of the Snowmass Western Heritage Association (which produces the Snowmass Rodeo), council felt it critical for staff to first address the Snowmass Rodeo’s concerns with not having enough parking for its contestants.
In the letter, Vold states that over 100 contestants come to the Snowmass Rodeo to compete each week with their trucks and large horse trailers, and that “the current area is very tight but with the use of a security parking person we can fit them all in.”
Council members felt the tight contestant parking needed to be addressed and directed town staff to work with Snowmass Rodeo officials to ensure the redesign allots enough space for contestants and the overall rodeo arena functions.
“If this is the layout that works the best for the community and if in fact we have to take a row for contestant parking, well contestant parking is number one and that’s what we’ll have to do,” Councilman Sirkus said of the redesign plan.
Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk expressed similar thoughts.
“I think this is an important issue that we have to nail down because if they can’t properly have contestant parking, then how can they have a rodeo?”
In response, Town Manager Clint Kinney and Snowmass Parks, Recreation and Trails Director Andy Worline stressed that the rodeo arena area is not shrinking in size through the redesign process — it will have the same footprint as before and town staff expressed confidence in being able to provide closer, increased contestant parking.
“At the end of the day, we will make it work,” Kinney said. “I have every confidence we can make it work because there is no less land. We’re not shrinking anything.”
Vold and Jim Snyder, Snowmass Western Heritage Association board president, also were at the Oct. 12 meeting. The longtime rodeo leaders expressed overall consensus with the broadview redesign plan and town staff’s willingness to work with Snowmass Rodeo officials as the project gets into the more detailed design stages.
Council directed town staff to bring back potential improvement options to rodeo contestant arena access and parking to its Nov. 2 meeting.
UPDATES, PROJECTED COST OF IN-PROGRESS MASTER HOUSING PLAN
Town staff presented council with some projected costs of the top five “most likely to succeed” future affordable housing projects Oct. 12.
The projects, which make up the town’s in-progress master housing plan, include 90 units proposed in the area behind Town Hall; 12 units proposed west of the town public works administrative offices; 39 total units including the Carriage Way Apartments and development of 27 apartments proposed in the Lot 1 area; 72 total units including the Snowmass Inn property and development of 33 units proposed in the Daly Lane area; and 78 units proposed above Lots 10 through 12.
At the Oct. 12 meeting, Betsy Crum, town housing director, and Connect One Design consultants briefly went over the specifics of each project again with council and shared the rough projected cost of each proposed site, including what potential revenue would be if the sites were created as deed-restricted units or rentals and how much the town would need to subsidize each unit to make them more affordable.
The total development cost for all five sites would be over $220 million, breaking down to $62.3 million for the Town Hall site; $7.2 million for the public works site; $25.6 million for the Carriage Way and Lot 1 site; $52 million for the Snowmass Inn and Daly Lane site; and $73.5 million for the upper numbered lots site, according to town documents.
Council members expressed concern with how expensive each proposed project may be. Crum and Kinney stressed that the project costs shared Oct. 12 are just preliminary projections, and that much more research and design work needs to be completed before the town will have more firm figures — but said that developing these affordable housing sites will not be inexpensive.
“There’s different ways to finance and different ways to partner with different groups, … there’s a variety of ways to fill that gap,” Kinney said of finding ways to help pay for and subsidize the proposed employee housing projects.
“But we wanted to be real honest and say that these are not going to be cheap solutions.”
“We won’t know specific numbers until we get to design, … but there is not any scenario under which developing housing will support itself economically in this town unless you do market rate housing, and that’s why market rate housing is what it is,” Crum added.
Crum also noted that the town specifically can look to utilize federal and state funds to create the proposed affordable housing sites, as well as develop partnerships with local organizations and businesses that are in need of housing for Snowmass employees to help offset costs.
Crum and town staff plans to continue work and research on what unit mixes (bedroom numbers, deed-restricted versus rental) would best serve the Snowmass community at each site, and to host community input sessions over the coming months before bringing a finalized master housing plan back to Town Council for review.
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Kenichi will open its third location in Snowmass Base Village in summer 2021, with the proposed space being remodeled this winter.