Every resort community needs a clear vision for what it wants to look like and how it will function in the long-run. Periodically that vision needs to be updated to responsibly deal with changing circumstances. With the Valley Floor off-limits to development, we have some work to do to make sure our community is healthy in the long-run.
I find it timely that the Town of Telluride has spent the better part of the last few years developing a Lift 7 Subarea Plan. In-fill and re-development are terms that will likely be used more and more in the Town of Telluride. I’d rather have a subarea plan in place than see individual development plans come in one-by-one over time.
West Coast Environmental Law, a public interest non-governmental organization, outlines the Smart Growth Principals as a package of complimentary strategies that include:
* Promoting urban revitalization and a healthy, working land base by containing urban areas and channeling development into existing neighborhoods.
* Incorporating green infrastructure into communities.
* Creating compact complete communities by mixing land uses and using land more efficiently.
* Increasing transportation choices through land use decisions.
* Creating inclusive neighborhoods by ensuring that a diversity of housing types are accessible to a wide range of people of different age groups, family types and incomes.
* Maximizing the enduring benefits of developments by using resources wisely on sites and in buildings that are tailored to specific neighborhood conditions.
* Supporting municipal goals through cost recovery by ensuring that development cost charges and other taxes and fees reflect the true cost of different types of growth.
* Promoting smart growth throughout the development process by reforming administrative processes and addressing liability issues.
The “smart” thing to do is to move forward with a vision for the Lift 7 Subarea which will contribute to the overall long-term health and vibrancy of the entire town. Our elected officials should be looking at this as an opportunity to do something really great for the future of Telluride. If you look at the principals of “smart growth” above, this area has the potential to be a model for responsible planning and development.
The subarea is in walking distance to the existing downtown area. It has the potential for a new hospital site. It is in walking distance to the schools. It is ski-in/ski-out. It has the riverfront as a natural amenity. It has the ability to contribute to the long-term economic vitality of the downtown retail establishments. It has the ability to provide additional affordable housing. It has the ability to provide high-quality overnight accommodations for visitors. It has the ability to provide additional parking. It has the ability to generate a greater property tax base as well as increased sales tax revenues and real estate transfer assessments.
Telluride Ski and Golf owns over nine acres of open space in the subarea planning bubble. While most of it is not developable due to ski trails and steep grades, we were asked last summer by several people in one of the hearings if we would consider making some of that land available for development. We agreed to consider that and have participated in all the meetings. I think there is a great location for a high-quality condo-hotel to the east of the lower terminal of Lift 7 and have said so publicly. I envision something like a Little Nell at the base of the lift but with an architectural theme that works with Telluride. Up zoning this parcel would create the incentive for the ski company to spend approximately $4,000,000 to replace Lift 7 with a state-of-the-art detachable lift and downloading capability.
The plan for the Lift 7 Subarea rolled out last fall by the town staff was met with resistance from the community because its scale and design was out of character with the Town of Telluride. The error was duly noted. A new plan has now been developed which is very responsive to the public’s input. Credit should be given to town staff for their good work.
The community is depending on our elected officials to act in a timely manner on important matters like this. I encourage the Town of Telluride to continue to refine the plan and its associated standards and complete the process it started two years ago.
Telluride Ski and Golf will continue to work with the Town of Telluride and the community on this important undertaking. If you would like to discuss this with me, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.