Basalt City Council Approves to Develop Last Remaining Residential Plot in Willits | New
In a 5-2 vote after heated exchanges on Tuesday night, Basalt City Council approved a sketch plan from Possumco LLC for Parcel 5 of the Sopris Meadows Subdivision, the last undeveloped residential parcel in Willits.
Possumco chief Michael Lipkin has developed downtown Willits and wants to build 111 open market condominiums and 44 rental units that would provide affordable housing on the 12-acre section between Willits Lane and East Valley Road.
The other major presentation of the evening was on BCC Basalt LLC’s revised concept for a rezoning to demolish the old Clark’s Market building at the entrance to downtown Basalt, to build 66 rent-capped apartments and a grocery store. of 9,000 square feet.
While citizens again spoke out against the revised scale and height of the BCC Basalt plan, Possumco’s claim was the most controversial and longest-running case of the night. Mayor Bill Kane reminded the public that the Sopris Meadows Parcel 5 project was at the very beginning of the planning and zoning process, and that it was “a very initial and impressionistic look at the property”.
It wasn’t the 155 homes and 350 parking spaces on offer that prompted eight neighbors of Park Modern and Willits Townhomes to condemn Lipkin’s plan. Rather, it was the developer’s stated desire to provide access to the residences on Parcel 5 via Evans Road, in addition to Willits Lane and East Valley Road. Jorges Fuentes told city council that “there is no justification for paving one of the last intact green spaces” in Willits. He submitted a petition signed by 109 of his neighbors who accepted.
“The green space there is worth preserving,” said Mary Foto, who lives on Evans Road. She cited the 2021 updates to the City of Basalt strategic framework, which calls for the improvement of the city’s parks and open spaces, and the pursuit of land use strategies that protect the environment. natural. City Councilor Bill Infante, who voted against approving Possumco’s sketch plan at this point, called access to Parcel 5 via Evans Road a “asphalt maximization plan”.
Others objected to the use of Evans Road for security reasons. Jay Israel, who has lived in Willits since 1998, called the Evans Road proposal “totally inappropriate and dangerous for children and dog walkers.” Jill Kosdrosky, treasurer of Willits Townhomes, raised similar concerns, adding that cyclists would face the danger of another intersection. Judy Nespeca of Willits Townhomes suggested that an elevated cycle path be built over the road to avoid traffic.
Lipkin, on the other hand, was quite certain that Evans Road access to the new development was needed.
“The road was mapped out over 20 years ago,” he said. “We planned around this road. We built trails and left 46 acres of open space. I just don’t think it will be a very busy and dangerous road. I do not share their fears. Lipkin said he wanted to “stick to the elegance of our plan” as access to Evans Road would give everyone in the new development, including those who lived in affordable housing, a more route. short and more direct. “No one is looking at the rights of future residents,” he said. “These people are not interested in letting others take advantage of what they have.”
City councilor Elyse Hottel agreed, saying she believed it was “slightly biased and unfair” for the affordable housing part of the development to force its future residents to drive further.
City Council expressed appreciation for Possumco’s inclusion of affordable housing and requested that 22 of these units be completed first. Councilor Gary Tennenbaum asked Lipkin why the apartments were intended as rentals rather than properties to buy. Lipkin explained that in the past, recessions prevented low-income homeowners from meeting their expenses, and many lost their homes. He said providing rental properties meant tenants didn’t have to take all of the responsibility for upkeep or keeping up with monthly payments from homeowners associations. “Banks are struggling to fund projects due to lack of maintenance and non-payment of HOA dues.” Having an inventory of affordable rental properties, Lipkin continued, “is a softer solution.”
Earlier in the evening, councilors easily came to an agreement on a few recreational matters. The meeting began with the granting of a Special Activity Permit for the October 16 Aspen Valley Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K Run which will end at Lions Park.
Two marijuana dispensaries in the city have received unanimous approval to renew their recreational marijuana licenses.
The advisers asked how business was. Roots Rx owner Robert Holmes and Goodpeople Dispensary owner Justin Streeb, whose medical marijuana license was also renewed, shared similar experiences: Sales increased during the pandemic shutdown. “We had an internal joke that we could tell when people got a check from the government,” Holmes said. “Then when people got back to work and they ran out of federal funds, sales went down. “