The parcel of land at 431 Emma Road is currently home to open pasture and single-family homes. Developer Jadwin Park LLC proposes three stories and over 60 units of housing on the now quiet site. Courtesy photo

This week’s Town Council meeting, Oct. 24, saw councilors Angela Anderson and Elyse Hottel absent as the flu makes its way through the Valley.

The meeting began with a series of presentations, the first led by the police department announcing its accreditation. For the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, accreditation includes a professional code of ethics and minimum professional standard requirements, all in service of clearly defining the role of police and improving the quality of their service. Basalt first received accreditation in 2017, but a review is required every five years.

Next, the fledgling Roaring Fork Valley Wildfire Collaborative (RFVWC) spoke about its current and future projects. Representing RFVWC, Angie Davlyn led the presentation. She emphasized the rising danger of wildfires and the Valley’s particular vulnerability due to the proximity of urban areas and wilderness. “Fire is really a way of life when you live so close to the forest, and it’s our job as residents here to adapt,” she said.

Housed within the Aspen Institute, RFVWC is a multi-stakeholder, cross-county collaboration on a mission to reduce wildfire risk by creating fire-resilient landscapes while focusing on community engagement and education.

So far, RFVWC has completed fuel mitigation projects north of Redstone and Filoha Meadows, and plans to work in and around Sunnyside, Marble and Sopris Creek over the next couple of years.

The final presentation was a Midland Avenue streetscape update led by David Detwiler. Phase I of the Project, the Midland Spur, has been open for several weeks, and only landscaping work remains. Next week, citizens can expect to see light poles coming up to illuminate this section of Midland.

With regards to Phase II, the portion of construction currently underway on the main drag of Midland, workers are now connecting water lines. A sanitary service was also found damaged and promptly repaired and won’t lead to any delay in construction. Services will continually be updated through the end of November, when the road will be temporarily paved. Phase II will pause until spring of 2024, at which point the much-contested surface improvements will begin. The project team has stated that a comprehensive value engineering exercise is currently underway for this part of the project, and updated pricing can be expected at the Nov. 14 meeting.

In terms of council actions, a new financial policy manual was unanimously adopted to establish objectives, standards and internal controls for public funds. According to Finance Director Doug Pattison, the manual mainly compiles existing policies for the convenience of having everything in one place. After that, council approved the installation and maintenance of underground electrical facilities beneath Lion’s Park, just outside Town Hall.

The final major item of the night was a public hearing and consideration of a PUD application for the Jadwin/Black Mountain Sketch Plan. For those unaware, Jadwin Park LLC has applied for annexation, PUD and other development review actions to construct a large residential complex at 431 Emma Road, just east of the Basalt Regional Library.

The development, in its current state, includes 68 dwelling units, 12 short-term rental cabins, 7 glamping pads, a pond and a small open space bordering on the south side of the Roaring Fork River for easy fishing access. Jadwin Park LLC has proposed that 24 of the units will be deed-restricted rental units, deemed satisfactory by Basalt Affordable Community Housing group.

Councilor Glen Drummond argued, however, that this proportion of affordable housing is insufficient, and that in its current state the development is simply too large. Mayor Bill Kane agreed that the visual impact of the project needs to be considered and was apprehensive about three-story developments in town. Additionally, the plan requires the modification of Basalt’s Urban Growth Boundary, which Kane stated is a line not to be crossed unless the town was faced with some overwhelming need.

Councilor David Knight agreed that there wasn’t enough affordable housing in the project, especially in the multi-family units. “If we increase the footprint of the town, it’s just digging the hole deeper,” said Knight.

Council decided to continue the public hearing to Nov. 14, during which time the applicant will address concerns and citizens can present additional comments.