Snowmass Town Council recap: Snowmass Center redevelopment discussed; trail closures, land use code changes, parcel rezoning approved
COUNCIL TO REVIEW POLISHED RESOLUTION FOR SNOWMASS CENTER REDEVELOPMENT THIS MONTH
Town Council gave the Snowmass Center redevelopment team direction needed to craft a polished resolution for preliminary approval of its center project May 4.
At the Monday meeting, council received a draft resolution with nearly 90 required conditions for the center project based off of the Planning Commission’s review, and mainly discussed one area of contention: whether the types of tenants allowed on the street level of the main Snowmass Center building should be restricted.
In its review of the Snowmass Center project, the Planning Commission spent a lot of time discussing this, ultimately deciding in a near-split decision that the street level should be prioritized for retail and restaurant tenants, not office or real estate, as discussed with council May 4. The commission worried that if future market demands drive rent prices up, businesses like jewelry stores and real estate offices may be the only ones able to afford to be on the main Snowmass Center building’s ground level, decreasing vitality and community benefit.
But during a brief presentation to council, Jordan Sarick, principal of Eastwood Developments and its Eastwood Snowmass Investors affiliate, explained that limiting the types of tenants allowed on the street level of the new center could actually be detrimental to its future success and not allow for flexibility.
Many businesses offer more than one service or use and do not fit neatly into traditional “commercial type” definitions, Sarick explained.
“I worry that by limiting office uses we are going to be unnecessarily and needlessly limiting some uses that could provide vitality and other essential services at the center,” Sarick said. “The most successful projects and neighborhoods change and evolve to meet the needs of the community and all we’re asking for is the flexibility that exists in the code currently to continue the center’s uses going forward.”
Sarick also addressed a few questions and concerns council brought up at its April 20 meeting during his May 4 presentation, including updated variance requests, more detail on the center’s traffic flows, sidewalks and transportation connections, and the programming plan for the park proposed at the new center.
After some discussion, Town Council generally agreed that tenant flexibility needed to be allowed for on the street level of the center, aligning with Sarick and noting that most of the current center tenants, including Ajax Supply, Clark’s Market, the post office, Sundance Liquor and Gifts and Taster’s, are already proposed and accounted for on the new center’s first floor.
“I’m a person that enjoys flexibility versus a cookie cutter approach,” Mayor Markey Butler said. “I really think you got to work a plan and the plan needs to fit the community, so if there’s a need for flexibility in terms of what the uses can be I don’t think we need to be prescriptive, I think we need to be creative.”
Sarick said his team would bring back a more polished resolution for review at the May 18 council meeting, along with more detail on the traffic flow, logistics and safety at the new center, as requested by Councilman Bob Sirkus.
If council approves the resolution, it would mean preliminary approval of the Snowmass Center planned unit development (PUD) application. It would not allow the center redevelopment team to proceed with construction of any kind; it only authorizes them to prepare and submit a final PUD based off of the conditions required by the town through the preliminary plan approval, according to town documents.
TOWN ALIGNS WITH FOREST SERVICE ON SEASONAL BURNT MOUNTAIN AREA CLOSURE
Town Council approved the second reading of an ordinance that extends the seasonal closure dates for trails in the Burnt Mountain area, aligning with the U.S. Forest Service.
According to Brian Olson, Snowmass police chief, the White River National Forest formally adopted closure extensions for the Two Creeks to West Buttermilk area in late April. By following suit, Olson said the town would be in partnership with Forest Service officials to monitor and enforce the closure, and any violations would come through the local court. Violating the closure can result in a fine of up to $5,000 or six months in jail, punishable by Forest Service regulation.
The closure aims to protect the elk in the area from being startled or disrupted by trail users during calving season. Trails affected include the Tom Blake, Sequel and other trails in the Elk Camp and Two Creeks vicinity, which will open June 21, along with the Anaerobic Nightmare, Government #1980 and Sugarbowl trails, which will open June 28.
Town Council unanimously approved the seasonal closure extension ordinance with little discussion.
COUNCIL APPROVES CHANGES TO THE LAND USE CODE
Council members approved the second reading of the ordinance that changes the way basement and mechanical space exemptions are measured and determined.
These land-use code changes include limiting mechanical space exemptions in homes with or without qualifying basement exemptions to 5% of the allowable floor area; eliminating the unlimited mechanical space provision in qualifying basement exemption spaces; and redefining how the qualifying basement exemption is measured to rely on either existing or finished grade, whichever is most restrictive.
As explained by Julie Ann Woods, town community development director, the changes are in response to a years-long trend of misuse of these exemptions in some redevelopment and new home projects, which community development officials feel impact public safety and the residential character of the village.
At the May 4 meeting, Woods recapped this reasoning and included two more examples of misuse submitted to the town over the past few weeks.
“This is why we are presenting this to you because we are concerned,” Woods said.
“This (misuse) is legal and what we’re saying is it is not the intent of the law, so we’re suggesting we change the law so it meets what we believe the intent to be,” added Town Manager Clint Kinney.
Mark Kittle, the town’s chief building official, also weighed in on the proposed changes, namely the new limit on mechanical space exemption, saying that he feels the 5% cap provides enough mechanical space for developers to work with and should be put in place.
Town Council also agreed that some flexibility with the 5% cap, namely when and if homeowners or developers are looking to utilize clean energy equipment, should be allowed as exceptions and up to the community development and building officials to decide.
Council unanimously approved the second reading of the ordinance.
HORSE RANCH PARCEL REZONED AS OPEN SPACE
In a 4 to 1 vote, Town Council approved the second reading of an ordinance that would rezone a parcel of the Horse Ranch Subdivision from “public” to “open space.”
The vote aligned with the ordinance’s first reading decision, with Councilman Bob Sirkus voicing his concern with the rezone.
Sirkus feels that the rezone could be detrimental in the future, as rezoning out of open space requires the designation of a similar open space parcel elsewhere in town. He feels rezoning the parcel as “conservation” instead would serve the same purpose, keep the land in town hands and allow for future flexibility.
“None of us know how this town is going to develop over the next not five years but 25 years. And I think that even by leaving this as public there is very little risk, almost no risk that anything is going to be built there,” Sirkus said.
Despite Sirkus’ concerns, council moved to rezone the Horse Ranch parcel adjacent to Brush Creek Road to open space.
“When I went down and saw 30 elk sitting on that parcel it pretty much answered the question for me because I was really in your camp,” Councilman Bill Madsen said to Sirkus May 4. “We don’t want to give future councils any options… as open space, it will be much more difficult (to rezone again) and I think that’s the purpose here.”