TELLURIDE — Although it failed last fall to convince the Telluride electorate to pass both of two ballot questions that would have allowed the Telluride Hospital District to build a new facility on two town-owned lots known together as the “RV Lot,” having reconsidered its land options since then, its board of directors is contemplating trying to acquire the site once again in 2010.
“This is absolutely the best location,” said Hospital Administrator Gordon Reichard in an interview following a THD board meeting last week.
“We’re not willing to give up on it when we were so close in the last election.”
While the hospital district could hold a special election as early as May 2010, it will more likely approach the voters in the fall.
“Our best chances would probably be in November 2010,” Reichard said
Located directly west of Mahoney Drive, the RV Lot is formed by Lot 48A, and about one-half acre of the South Pearl Property. Both lots are largely paved.
While building is permitted on Lot 48 A, which is located within the Accommodations Two Zone District, the South Pearl Property portion of the RV Lot, which is in the Public Purpose Zone District that provides for limited public facilities and limited commercial uses on review, it is governed by a 1998 ordinance that prohibits development of any kind on the Pearl Property for wetlands protection.
During last fall’s election, Question 200, which passed by three votes, gave the Town of Telluride the right to sell the “RV Lot” to the hospital district.
But to proceed with plans for a new facility there, the THD also needed the community to authorize Question 201, which would have amended the 1998 ordinance. The question failed by six votes.
The voters also denied a third question to approve a $15 million bond that would have paid for about half of the new facility. The result came as a shock to no-one, particularly since the Telluride electorate denied each of four tax increases requested of it during the 2008 election.
Far from making its final selection, the THD Board is also considering the Shandoka parking lot and another town-owned site on Black Bear Road as potential locations.
“They have not made the decision,” Reichard said, adding that the board still has plans to meet with Telluride Ski and Golf Company to determine whether it may have any suitable land.
Nevertheless, if the THD does ultimately choose to pursue the RV Lot again, it is prepared to do it differently next year.
For example, a portion of the proposed facility, as it was designed last year, would have rested on parts of the South Pearl Property that are not paved. The next time around, if there is a next time, the facility will be redesigned.
“We are going to modify our plans such that we do not build off the pavement,” said Reichard.
It will also not ask the town to approve a bond to pay for the facility.
One message it will strive to get across to the voters is that turning down the THD will not protect the RV Lot from development entirely.
“It’s a tricky construction site because a lot of the town’s utilities go underneath it,” said Town Manager Frank Bell of Lot 48A. Nevertheless, “It is zoned to do affordable housing.”
Bell said that while the town has no immediate plans for the land, it could one day expand its Entrada affordable housing project there.
“We can certainly design a project that fits the site,” he said.
THD Boardmember Alan Solomon, MD, also stressed that if the board does set its sights on the RV Lot, it needs to do so with the full blessing of the Town of Telluride Council.
“I would never approve another vote unless we have town council’s support,” he said. “We can’t win this if town council doesn’t support it.”