Developer, Neighbors Square Off Over Housing Development
by Martinique Davis
Oct 04, 2012 | 1717 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NO TRESPASS - Declared uninhabitable due to mold issues, Telluride Apartments, an affordable-housing complex in Mountain Village, remains boarded up and empty. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
NO TRESPASS - Declared uninhabitable due to mold issues, Telluride Apartments, an affordable-housing complex in Mountain Village, remains boarded up and empty. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – Following a well-attended Design Review Board meeting in Mountain Village last week, the would-be developer of a new workforce housing development in the Meadows has agreed to make more changes to the building’s design, in an effort to address neighbors’ concerns about the project.

Randy Edwards, a partner of the development company Eastern Partners, said in an interview Monday that his group would make further changes to the design following concerns raised at last Thursday’s DRB meeting.

The most significant of those changes would be a reduction in the number of units, which at the time of last week’s DRB meeting was at 129, with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. In comparison, the region’s other similar housing developments are larger, with Village Court Apartments at 198 units, Big Billie’s with 149 units, and Shandoka with 134.

How much the developers can reduce the number of units and still keep the project economically viable is yet to be seen, however.

“We feel like we got a lot of constructive criticism” at the DRB Sketch Plan Review hearing, Edwards said, noting that while the development group is willing to make further changes to the design, the project does have to remain financially feasible. “We feel we’ve shown throughout the process that we’re willing to make specific changes in specific locations to accommodate the neighbors’ concerns in any way we can, while still creating a successful project from our perspective.”

Edwards presented an already modified plan to the DRB last week, which dropped the northern building from four to three stories and scaled down the facade on the corner of the eastern building closest to Northstar to the same height as the building currently on the site.

Meadows residents have been vocal about the perceived impacts an increase in density on that site would bring to the small, mostly year-round community. Deb Gesmundo, a resident in the Northstar neighborhood located on the proposed development’s eastern edge, says she believes a major increase in density would create problems related to road traffic, water usage, Internet use and public transportation if all of the proposed units of affordable, for-rent housing are developed.

She also noted concerns voiced by Meadows homeowners that adding more for-rent housing would negatively impact the family-heavy demographic in the Meadows.

“When you throw up a big rental project that caters more to seasonal workers who aren’t looking to move here and raise families and invest in the community, it changes the demographic of the community that’s already down there,” she explained.

Mountain Village condemned the 20-year-old Telluride Apartments building currently on the site in 2008, due to mold and other code violations. That development had 30 units and also provided for-rent workforce housing for approximately 90 people.

The site, Lot 640A, was identified in the 2010 Mountain Village Comprehensive Plan as the primary location in the Meadows Subarea for a large density increase, primarily due to the size of the lot – over 2.5 acres – and its relatively flat surface. The Comprehensive Plan set a “target density” of 91 deed restricted units for the site, or around 273 people, in order to achieve its goals of providing more employee housing within the town’s limits. The proposed development seeks an increase in the number of units, but not in the scale of the building that was suggested in the Comprehensive Plan.

A transportation study was completed for the Comprehensive Plan, which found that Adams Ranch Road was at only 41 percent of capacity, while Russell Drive was at 8 percent of capacity. At Thursday’s meeting, Mountain Village Planning Department staff indicated that according to that transportation study, surrounding roads can support the added traffic generated by the proposed 129-unit development.

The Comprehensive Plan also directed the preservation and expansion of the “pocket” park located there, which currently exists on a portion of Lot 640A and portion of a Telluride Ski and Golf-owned tract zoned as Open Space.

If approved, the project would result in the modification of the existing TSG Open Space Lot via the creation of a separate lot, which will designate the new park so that its ownership and maintenance responsibility would be transferred to the Town. A new lot for the Adams Ranch Apartments would be created, as would a separate, smaller Open Space Lot for the hillside area where a proposed dog park would be located. The remaining development rights for the roughly 2.5-acre area that was previously reflected on the current Lot 640A will be transferred to TSG, as compensation for the replat and the easement modifications.

“We are going to come back and make further changes to the eastern building and front of the building, to reflect the comments we heard, and we will reduce the number of units,” Edwards said, adding that the revised design will also increase the number of two- and three-bedroom units, while decreasing the number of one-bedroom units.

The revamped design could be presented to DRB at its next meeting, on Thursday, Oct. 25. While neighbors in the Meadows are likely to continue to voice concerns about the density and scale of the proposed project, there is widespread consensus that the condemned building currently on the site needs to be redeveloped.

Adam Singer is the HOA president for Coyote Court, the development located across Adams Ranch Road from the proposed development.

“The Coyote Court homeowners association members were concerned with the size and density of the project. So I was happy the DRB board asked the developer to reconsider those issues. That being said, the developer presented a thoughtful and considerate design with respect to the Meadows community. I am confident that a mutually beneficial design can be worked out,” Singer said.

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