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Affordable housing at Basalt River Park

Locations: News Published

On April 11, Town Council convened for a regular meeting to discuss a variety of topics ranging from a new town logo to affordable housing at Basalt River Park for employees of Colorado Mountain College (CMC) and the Fire Department.

In his opening comments, Mayor Bill Kane announced that the Motors at Midland car show has now been moved to Willits due to construction on Midland. Hosted by the Basalt Education Foundation, the show will be held on May 20.

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The meeting was well-attended by the public. Some commented in support of the Midland Streetscape Project, calling it a “win-win” that would benefit businesses in the long run once the street is fully beautified. Another commenter noted the collapse of two regional banks and the record-setting number of emergency loans made to banks by the Federal Reserve in the past month, arguing that if businesses face difficulty with construction, it may not be possible for them to take out loans to support themselves. A final comment reiterated criticism over the loss of 22 parking spaces.

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney in his report stated that the Let’s Talk Basalt website (a forum for information about town projects) now has a “frequently asked questions” page. Mahoney also announced that the Basalt Logo project is well underway, and that three final designs will be posted to Let’s Talk Basalt next week for public input. In terms of construction, Mahoney stated that the paving project at the Two Rivers and Midland Intersection would be officially complete by the next day and that section of road would remain permanently open.

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Next up, Basalt High School senior Miles Johnson presented his Capstone project: the installation of a public bike pump in front of the Basalt Library. Johnson raised the funds with help from Basalt Bike & Ski, Chris Severson of Reese Henry, an accounting services company, and Mahoney. He installed the pump with help from his father.

Moving into official town actions, the first was a public hearing and first reading of an ordinance to approve river setback waivers for a residential construction project. Currently, the river setback requirement is 50 feet, but the home in question was constructed when the Town only required 30 feet. Planning and Zoning supported the project under the requirement that the applicant replace their bluegrass lawn with drought tolerant fescue, and the council unanimously approved this application for a second hearing.

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Up next was a hearing for an amendment to the River Park Development plan, as well as a waiver from income restrictions at four affordable housing units at 22860 Two Rivers Road. Requested by the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority and CMC (both of which are already under contract to purchase the units), the proposed amendment would grant occupancy priority to the applicants’ employees.

Originally, this building was anticipated to be used by The Art Base, but the pandemic among other reasons forced The Art Base to relocate elsewhere, leaving the building open for residential use. Fire Chief Scott Thompson stated that “we are in dire need” of more firefighters and paramedics in our community. Mary Boyd of CMC stated that this would support employee housing.

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Councilor David Knight spoke up in support of the application: “This is what success looks like from an employee housing standpoint … it makes sense for recruitment and retention, and I don’t see any other way you could make it work.” The application was approved unanimously for a second reading.

The next item was a resolution to authorize a grant application by the Town to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) for an Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund grant. This grant would support the installation of broadband infrastructure in a new project titled The Midland Avenue Broadband Project, allowing for broadband to be installed alongside the rest of the Streetscape Project. The Town applied for approximately $158,000. Council approved this resolution unanimously with the exception of Elyse Hottel, who abstained and stated that she is employed by Connect One and was concerned about a possible conflict of interest.

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The final action was a resolution to adopt the 2023 Pitkin County Hazard Mitigation Plan, which can be viewed online. Police Chief Knott stated that the only updated aspects of the plan from its previous iteration were new provisions for ice jams on the Fryingpan River. The plan was approved unanimously.

Tags: #affordable housing #Basalt report #Basalt River Park #Will Buzzerd
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