There's an interesting sound in Basalt this week. Following several months of impassioned discussion about the development proposal for the now open parcel along the Roaring Fork River, a partial lull has settled in.
A Line is Drawn
At last Tuesday's Town Council meeting, a sketch for downtown development was presented. The proposed planning map, created at a quarterly breakfast session a few days prior, was an effort by the Town Council and staff to put to paper the ideas and sentiments that had had been communicated in a series of public meetings over the last few months. It is not detailed nor immutable. It's designed to provide a visual guide for the Town Council to move forward in creating policy for the next "Our Town Planning" stage of evaluating development proposals for downtown Basalt. It's also useful for the rest of us to as we work to understand the possibilities first for the Pan and Fork site, and as we expand our perspective to include the entire downtown developable areas.
In the sketch to the left, a diagonal line was drawn to separate acceptable building area from park and open space. The curving peach rectangle represents the designated building portion, and sits on 2.3 acres of land currently owned by the nonprofit Roaring Fork Community Development Corporation (CDC), the full boundaries of which are outlined in red. The green area is proposed park and open space development which might include trails, an amphitheater and other architected improvements. The portion along the Roaring Fork River is owned by the Town, as are the brown blocks which could be considered for development and housing.
True to the Downtown Area Advisory Committee's (DAAC) recommendation to preserve a view plane from from the center of "downtown" along Midland Avenue to the riverfront park area, two red lines spread out like a drafting compass to represent that concept - a sort of feng shui flow from Town center to open space and river.
Town Council Resolution Further Clarifies Development Planning
Along with the Planning Map, the Town Council passed a resolution in a 5-2 vote that formally propelled the Town into what might be considered the third stage of the "Our Town Planning" process, the first being last year's chat sessions which engaged more than 600 residents, producing hundreds of maps and thousands of ideas, and the second the Town Council-established DAAC and their comprehensive efforts to consolidate the vision. The resolution outlined three key directed actions and agreements:
- that development on the CDC parcel should be a mix of "vertical building construction" and park space with the goal to create the optimal mix for community vitality and enjoyment;
- that the Planning Map may be used to help guide discussions with Lowe Enterprises and the CDC to design a plan workable for all;
- and directing Town staff to develop a Downtown Master Plan and Park Agreement for Council consideration.
The overall goal of the resolution seems to recognize the extensive community input, further the ongoing collaborative process, and to best meet the existing and future needs of the community. Additional public meetings will be scheduled to both inform and invite citizen comment.
It's All about Uses and Square Footage
This third stage is essentially a time in which the Town Council, the Town's Planning and Zoning Commission (P & Z), and staff must develop and fine-tune policy around future development in the downtown corridor. In talking to Town Manager Mike Scanlon, what rises to the surface is how fundamentally and unusually collaborative this progression is. Over the next few months, there will be much conversation among all parties about density, desired and allowable uses, project viability and optimal outcomes. While the Town must ultimately direct any future development, Lowe Enterprises and the CDC as landowner each bring an important perspective to the discussion.
There are significant monetary constraints on the property - more than a half million dollars in land costs and improvements - but there is also a functional degree of flexibility.
For example, the full scope of affordable and free-marketing housing most agree is needed might not be feasible for the CDC parcel, but there are complementary pieces around town that can be added to the mix.
eople often think in terms of how tall or wide a project is, but Mike Scanlon suggests that a better foundation for adaptive planning is to look at square footage, retaining the ability to adjust height and width based on communicated values.
A challenge for the Town will be to establish clear parameters for uses and overall building footprint while keeping open options for meeting the various stakeholder needs.
Just as the DAAC worked through a virtual whirlwind of possibilities, it is expected that the next few months will be a process of constant innovation and refinement. Grounded in existing land use codes, and guided and informed by a vision finetuned through "Our Town Planning," we're hopeful that what emerges is a solution that is economically feasible, enables the CDC to recoup their investment, and fulfills the Town's vision for vitality and community building.
At the end of this intensive work, there will be a design concept that will be returned to the citizens for comment. Stand by, we'll keep you posted.
Where is Lowe Enterprises in the Process?
"Tell us what you want," was the message from Lowe Enterprises President Jim DeFrancia in a statement before the Town Council on Tuesday.
In keeping with the collaborative model established by the Town Mr. DeFrancia,
whose proposal for the Pan and Fork site included a 60-room boutique hotel, residential condominiums and park improvements, said he has viewed the relationship from the outset as a private-public partnership. Attentive to the DAAC's recommendations, he described his role as bringing to the table private expertise and skill in implementing a development project.
"We're trying to deliver whatever development activity the Town determines is desirable and appropriate," Mr. DeFrancia said, simultaneously committing to economic transparency and reminding of the necessity for economic viability. Whatever happens, the company appears to be willing to see the process through the next stage.
Basalt Chamber's Presentation on the Town Grant Fulfillment
With a slightly smaller following and in fewer minutes than some of the public comments on the proposed downtown development, the Basalt Chamber presented its end-of year report on the Town's 2014-2015 grant. The report included a summary of the year's marketing campaign, a transportation proposal to increase connectivity between downtown Basalt and Willits Town Center, and a preliminary demographic study. The
is attached and will be covered in more detail in subsequent newsletters.
Join Us for Breakfast and Coffee at Rock Canyon Coffee's New Roasting Room
A treat awaits you this Friday on the way to work. Please join us at Rock Canyon Coffee's new roasting room to tour the new facility and for a ribbon cutting at 8:30 a.m. You'll find all the information below.