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Carbondale gains a park and condominium complex

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Carbondale’s regular municipal meeting on May 10 saw all trustees in attendance. After a slew of students of the month were recognized, comments from persons not on the agenda were heard.

Resident Arn Menconi stepped forward to elucidate that the language in the short term rentals (STR) ordinance passed in March has inadvertently excluded full time residents that are tenants from applying for a permit to run an STR. After some deliberation, trustees agreed to put the item on an upcoming agenda.

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The meatiest item on Tuesday’s agenda involved a public hearing for a condominium subdivision on Lot 1 of the Main Street Marketplace development. Robert Schultz and Briston Peterson represented the applicant, Crystal River Marketplace, LLC.

The condominium subdivision, dividing Lot 1 into seven units which could each be independently owned, will not alter the project’s already-approved site plan. This includes 115 residential units — all rentals, with 20% deed restricted — and 10,000 square-feet of commercial space. So far, Carbondale has seen two of the eleven buildings completed, with a third currently under construction.

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In the center of the development will be open space in accordance with the unified development code (UDC). When the project was approved in 2018, the UDC necessitated that 15% of the site be private common open space. An amendment to the UDC in 2019 requires that any development undergoing condominiumization dedicate 15% of its land, or a separate parcel equal in size, to public open space — or pay cash equal to the fair market value of that land. In all three scenarios, a park development fee is also required. In this case, the fee was estimated at $80,000.

Instead of a dedication of land, Crystal River Marketplace, LLC sought to grant the town an easement, allowing public access into perpetuity on Lot 1’s open space, with the condominium association on the hook for its maintenance. At a cost to the developer of $1.3 million, Carbondale Marketplace Park is slated to include a universally-accessible playground, gazebo, futsal court — a miniature, hard-surfaced area for playing soccer— and four-season restrooms.

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After public meetings with the Parks and Recreation Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission, the town’s staff recommended approving the easement in lieu of a dedication of land.

“This is a giveaway, it’s very hard to see it otherwise,” declared resident Ross Kribbs during the public hearing. Introducing himself as a former president of a condominium association in Aspen, Kribbs continued, “Perpetuity is very squishy. When we now have one owner but will eventually have seven, that’s a lot of folks to get behind improvements. … That can affect upkeep, aesthetics and safety.” He urged trustees to table the discussion and not grant exceptions to the UDC without serious consideration. “It’s a very slippery slope,” he concluded.

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Peterson explained that Crystal River Marketplace, LLC intends on owning the entire asset, estimated at $100 million. The condominiumization, he said, is a financing mechanism for the project’s completion. “We specifically sought out American National Bank as a local bank. I could have easily taken this business to a national bank outside of our community.” The hang-up, he explained, is that the project now exceeds the lending limitations of American National Bank.

“Our sole purpose,” Peterson continued, “is to create a condo plat here where we can take out the various blocks after we get them up, get them stabilized, and bring in some large institutions with long term financing that eliminates risk both for the developer and for the community.”

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Newly-elected trustee Chris Hassig questioned “accelerating the developer’s process if we are still tying our shoes in terms of dealing with all of the traffic” impacts generated by the project. Peterson responded that the development has already made contributions toward a second roundabout, including a donation of land.

“When we first approved this project in 2018, [the park] was going to be private common space. … I was actually thrilled to see that this is now going to be publicly accessible,” said trustee Erica Sparhawk.

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“I don’t think it’s a giveaway,” said Mayor Ben Bohmfalk. “The developer has followed the code in every part of the process” and now, impacted by a change to the UDC, is offering an investment beyond what the town could do “with a raw piece of land and $80,000.” 

Ultimately, the condominiumization was approved with Hassig as the sole dissenting vote. The details of liability and oversight will be fleshed out for an approval ordinance that staff will present at the June 14 meeting.

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In other business, Erica Sparhawk was unanimously appointed to serve as mayor pro tem, facilitating meetings and signing documents when the mayor is away.

Trustees also interviewed candidates for appointment to serve the remaining two years of Bohmfalk’s vacated trustee term. Applicants included Jess Robison and Luis Yllanes, both of whom ran for election, plus Planning and Zoning Commission member Kade Gianinetti. Based on receiving the fourth most amount of votes in the election, Yllanes was unanimously appointed.

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The trustees’ next regular meeting was moved from May 24 to May 31.

Tags: #Carbondale Report #Town of Carbondale
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