MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – The Mountain Village Town Council eliminated a proposal to split 28 single-family zoned lots in Boston Commons when it met last Thursday for its first in a series of more than half a dozen meetings concerning the town’s Comprehensive Plan.
The proposal, put forth as part of the draft Mountain Village Comprehensive Plan developed by the ad hoc Comprehensive Plan Task Force over more than two years of work, suggested doubling density in the subarea as a way to create more affordable housing in the community.
“It’s taking the current platted lots and allowing a split down the middle,” Community Development Director Chris Hawkins described to council.
“In theory it should be a more affordable lot…that would allow for a different market segment than currently exists in Mountain Village today.”
Fifty of the proposed 56 lots would have been designated as free market, while six deed-restricted lots would have been set aside for development as professional housing. Adjacent land zoned as “other open space” would also have been rezoned as passive open space in the proposal.
Ultimately, council was uncomfortable with the idea of upzoning single-family lots.
“To change the zoning on a single-family lot is a big, big deal to me…because of what you bought into,” said Mayor Bob Delves.
“When you buy next to a single-family lot the zoning is very specific; it says a single-family home can get built on that lot,” he explained in a subsequent interview.
Unlike those who purchased lots next to active open space where there are multiple potential uses, single-family lots provide, “a reasonable expectation that that’s what’s going to happen there,” he continued.
Other factors including the steep terrain of the subarea – one of eight subarea concepts conceived by the task force that provide detailed guidance for the development and redevelopment in Mountain Village – and the impact such a move could have on the character of the town, also played a role in the decision.
“The message was kind of, if it’s not broken don’t fix it,” said Delves. “Those lots that are down there are probably appropriately sized and will be the right product at the right price point anyway.”
“If we try to split them in half, it might have unintended consequences.”
During the same meeting council also questioned the suitability of a surface parking lot on lot SS-811 in the Town Gateway subarea. While originally envisioned as a school site, it was eventually rezoned for single-family use. A handful of members of the public spoke against the parking lot idea, joined by a few members of council.
In the end council decided to revisit the idea in conjunction with a pending transportation impact study without which the town cannot gain an accurate estimate of its future parking needs, as several meeting attendees pointed out.
“I don’t sense a lot of support for this,” said Delves. “Let’s get the parking study, and I think we should have one more conversation,” he concluded.
Because of time limitations and the inability of at least two councilmembers to participate in a scheduled Meadows subarea discussion, council delayed that conversation to its next meeting on Thursday, Feb. 10.
Upset by council’s elimination of the Boston Commons proposal and the shaky ground on which any future SS-811 parking lot rests, Comprehensive Plan Task Force member Brenda Van der Mije challenged the decisions.
“I have great reservations about this meeting,” she told council. “I think by the end of this process you will have taken off everything we put on.”
Van der Mije went on to suggest that the divergent viewpoints were the result of council not receiving the same information provided to the task force as it developed the plan, and that the long-range, 30-year vision of the plan had fallen away from the discussion.
“You’re missing the point here, and you’re going to dissolve this, and it’s going to get into little arguments about things like this, and it really scares me, and it just shows me that I wasted my two and a half years on this committee,” she said.
Delves suggested otherwise, noting a community perception that the two items discussed had been eleventh hour additions to the plan.
“To me the only thing we did was eliminate a couple of things that came up at the last minute that involved rezoning of single-family lots,” he said. “So much of the stuff that you came forward with didn’t involve that.”
Comments from task force member Andrew Karow supported Delves’ position.
“I don’t think this was something that was incredibly well thought out,” he said, referring to the Boston Commons subarea plans. Karow indicated that the plan had been conceived late in the game when, “we were under a timeline to push this through.”
“To assume that every time we’re going to take half the items off [the table] is quite a jump,” Councilmember Dave Schillaci reassured Van der Mije. “I don’t think you’re going to see that.”
“But you might,” said Delves.
Overall, Delves said he found the inaugural meeting to be productive.
“We’re off to a good start,” he said.
The Mountain Village Town Council will next discuss the draft Comprehensive Plan at a special meeting on Thursday, Feb. 10 from 4-7 p.m. at the Mountain Village Town Hall. Topics for discussion include the Meadows subarea, professional housing, the transportation impact study and other comprehensive plan business.
Those wishing to submit written comments regarding a particular agenda topic should do so with the Town Clerk’s Office by 3 p.m. the Wednesday prior to the meeting at email@example.com. Letters received after 3 p.m. on Wednesdays will be included in the following week’s meeting packet.
For additional questions or comments regarding Town Council’s meeting schedule and process as it relates to the Comprehensive Plan, contact Community Development Director Chris Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.