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Trustees weigh in on statewide housing bill

Locations: News Published

All trustees were present at Tuesday’s meeting. The audience was filled out by some 30 Colorado Rocky Mountain School students observing local government in action. One spoke during general public comments about the lack of Highway 133 pedestrian crossings from the RFTA station to the roundabout (.7 miles). Mayor Ben Bohmfalk responded that 133 crossings is a well-identified issue, saying, “We’re on the same page.”

The consent agenda was quickly approved, including accounts payable, several liquor license renewals, reappointment of Matt Gworek to the Bicycle Pedestrian and Trails Commission, a $2,500 contract with Colorado Concrete for a park bench pad and sidewalk at Ramey Harvey Park and a letter supporting a RFTA grant request to renovate the 136-year-old pedestrian bridge near the Carbondale Community School.

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During trustee comments, Marty Silverstein took a moment to acknowledge all of the people, over 12 years, that have moved along the Crystal River restoration project which is set to begin construction in mid-May. Erica Sparhawk gave a Colorado Communities for Climate Action update and announced she will testify at an Air Quality Control Commission hearing next week regarding the electrification of big trucks. Lani Kitching said she attended a chamber luncheon unveiling the tourism council’s “Take it Easy, Carbondale” campaign; she also spoke about the regional detox facility now seeking to be medically managed with six licensed staff and around-the-clock nurses at a substantial price increase. Luis Yllanes shouted out KDNK’s membership drive and 40th anniversary party on April 15. And Chris Hassig drew attention to the transportation master plan and a recent column published in The Sopris Sun.

The first true item consisted of awarding contracts for both an architect and construction manager for the new aquatic center. The town’s owners rep and parks and rec director gave assurances that their process yielded two impressive teams: Land+Shelter, an architecture firm based in Carbondale, and AD Miller, a construction company with substantial pool-building experience.

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Bohmfalk took the opportunity to comment on the prospects of a net-zero pool, stating that there are currently no net-zero pools in Colorado. “I think it’s incumbent on us to manage expectations,” he said, assuring that maximum energy efficiency will remain a goal. Trustees gave unanimous approval for both contracts which will move the project into a design charrette stage in the next couple of weeks.

Next, Police Chief Kirk Wilson brought forward the need to revive the town’s Victims and Witness Assistance Law Enforcement (VALE) board which oversees a fund available to victims or witnesses affected by crimes through a 30% surcharge on all ordinance violation fines. Wilson explained the fund had no money in 2020 and a negative fund balance in 2021. Those accounts are again accruing funds and a request from a hit-and-run victim prompted Wilson to look at the municipal code which specifies that two citizens as well as two trustees and the town manager participate in the decision process. Sparhawk and Kitching agreed to continue to serve as the trustees’ representation, and Bohmfalk suggested the four-year citizen terms be changed to three-year in a broad effort to make boards and commissions more consistent. 

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Trustees then heard from Martín Bonzi, CLEER transportation Manager, and Quinn Donnelly, member of the Environmental Board, asking for a resolution declaring Carbondale a GoEV City by pledging to develop policies and strategies to meet transportation electrification goals. “We very successfully worked with Quinn and Martín about how not to restrict ourselves too much,” said Town Manager Lauren Gister. Approval was unanimous.

The final item of the night involved discussion of Senate Bill 23-213, aka “More Housing Now,” which has created a stir between the state and municipalities. The bill is intended to address the state’s housing affordability crisis by incentivizing more building by easing restrictions, however there are no requirements to assure that what gets built is indeed affordable.

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“One of the reasons everyone is up in arms is, it is on the fast track,” informed Gister. “It kind of took people by surprise, it’s very complex, and it treats different towns very, very differently based on some — some people may say — arbitrary facts.”

Planning Director Jared Barnes chimed in that many of the would-be changes are things Carbondale is already doing, but there would be differences, like allowing ADUs to be 50% the size of the primary home. The bill would more specifically impact “rural resort communities” which Carbondale is not considered by the bill at this time.

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“It seems foolish to pass something this monumental without another round of thinking about it,” commented Hassig. He speculated homes in Aspen may add square footage without adding affordability, creating more demand for construction and generally “exacerbating our problem” by “creating more demand for traffic and construction and stuff for free-market projects.”

“I’m so disappointed with this bill,” said trustee Colin Laird. “This isn’t thoughtful, it got thrown out and now everyone is running around like crazy.” He called it “counterproductive” because “it creates a situation where we’re all mad at the state, and we need to be partners.” He continued, “I don’t think these rules will even get us units.” He argued that the real need is not for zoning changes but funding to buy down units or build deed-restricted units.

Sparhawk, Kitching and Yllanes favored the Colorado Association of Ski Towns’s approach of opposing specific aspects but not the entire bill. “We have progressive policies,” said Sparhawk, “a lot of communities don’t. I can see where [the state] would want to start mandating things.”

“There’s consensus that we don’t want to support the bill,” affirmed Bohmfalk. It was decided that he and Laird would draft a letter to Senator Perry Will and Representative Elizabeth Velasco summarizing the positions of the trustees. 

Tags: #Carbondale Report #Colorado Senate Bill 23-213 #More Housing Now #Raleigh Burleigh
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