Snowmass Town Council talks ‘just big enough’ in review of another comp plan draft
How can Snowmass Village project its idealized notion of “just big enough,” in terms of development, when the town is nearly built out?
Snowmass Town Councilman Tom Goode posed the question at a public hearing July 2 to review the latest draft of the town’s $200,000, 181-page comprehensive plan.
The town of Snowmass contracted the Franklin, Tennessee-based, Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative LLC in late 2016 to help rewrite the plan, which intends to set a vision for the village and direct the town with future growth, policies, land-use development and funding.
“Where do we put our foot down? What’s ‘big enough’?” Goode said, adding shortly after, “I think we’re big enough right now.”
“Just big enough” is a key component of the comp plan, as the executive summary states that, “every development proposal and strategic initiative” is expected to align with this concept.
Another section within the first 30 pages of the plan outlines the history and intended meaning of the phrase: “The inception for the ‘just big enough’ economic analysis in Snowmass Village was originally developed during the preparation of the 2010 Comprehensive Plan. The fundamentals of the original economic analysis were associated with the (2004) Base Village approval.”
Town community development director Julie Ann Woods opened the meeting acknowledging that, “We are a very mature community (and) we are essentially pretty close to being built out,” especially when Base Village is completed.
She added that about 2 percent of Snowmass’ undeveloped land “could be developed.”
While no elected official disputed that Snowmass Village is nearing development capacity, the other three council members supported maintaining the town’s notion of “just big enough.” Snowmass Mayor Markey Butler was absent from the meeting.
“I think it’s an attempt to acknowledge that future growth is going to be very controlled,” Snowmass Town Councilman Bob Sirkus said.
Projecting this idea will hopefully send the message to future developers that “the town is not free and open for development,” he said.
The council also debated over particulars of the plan and if it presented too many specifics.
One of the details is tied to workforce housing and whether the comp plan should state a quantifiable goal for the town to reach in terms of housing Snowmass employees.
The town council and planning commission have grappled with this issue since the planning commission reviewed the first draft of the comp plan in January. The latest draft, which was released in late June and presented at the July 2 meeting, was a revised and condensed version.
A few planning commissioners and council members have argued that the plan, which calls for an additional 383 workforce housing units, overstates Snowmass’ demand.
Snowmass Town Manager Clint Kinney told the council that articulating a clear housing objective, whatever the figure may be, helps town staff determine how to best allocate dollars, time and energy toward said target.
The council agreed to revisit the issue of workforce housing and what is an appropriate goal at the next public hearing, which is July 16. The town of Snowmass is seeking feedback on the draft plan at http://www.plansnowmass.com.
A first reading of the ordinance on the comprehensive plan is set for Aug. 6, Kinney said, noting it is subject to change.
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