The Town of Snowmass Village found itself in an interesting position Monday night at its regular town council meeting, as the council members voted to approve an ordinance related to the town’s own proposed Coffey Place housing development. The ordinance, which had its first reading at the meeting, will allow the town to rezone the area where the homes will be built from Recreation and Single-Family Residential to Multi-Family Residential and Conservation.
As proposed, the Coffey Place development would add 17 “moderate-income” units to the town’s affordable housing inventory in the form of six two-bedroom duplexes with one-car garages and 11 three-bedroom homes with two-car garages. The units are expected to range in price from $523,767 to $824,502 and will likely be sold to Snowmass Village families making between $105,000 and roughly $250,000 per year. Aspen’s Charles Cunniffe Architects is providing the design and construction oversight on the project.
The rezoning is necessary because the duplexes are proposed in existing Rodeo Place Subdivision lots that had been designated as open space; five homes are proposed for a lot in the Entryway Master Subdivision Plat that is currently zoned for Recreation; and six are proposed in the Seven Star Subdivision, which is currently zoned Single-Family Residential (if the ordinance passes, the rest of the Seven Star Subdivision will be rezoned Conservation).
The issues with the rezoning have to do with the development’s proximity to elk- and mule-deer-sensitive winter range areas; encroachment into the Brush Creek Impact Area, for which the town requires a 25-foot wetland setback area; and development in terrain containing slopes greater than 30 percent. Other points of review have to do with trails, floodplains, fire protection, off-street parking, building design guidelines and landscaping design.
Mayor Markey Butler opened the discussion by asking Jim Wahlstrom, the town’s senior planner, to clarify his department’s position. Wahlstrom produced a map that he estimated to be 30-40 years old that showed homesteads and buildings on portions of the proposed Coffey Place lots that he thought were possibly part of a horse stables operation. Another map from 1997 verified that the buildings did, indeed, exist, and showed a building envelope for a proposed 6,400-square-foot residence in the current Seven Star Subdivision.
This led Mayor Butler to ask when the town purchased the land (the answer is 2010, during the town’s original annexation of the Seven Star property, and 2013, when the town acquired two adjacent lots). There was some confusion after that as to whether another lot was for sale in the area, but Snowmass Town Attorney John Dresser assured the council that the town owns it all.
The point of the maps, according to Wahlstrom, was to show that development has already taken place or at least been proposed on the lots in question, so while the Coffey Place homes may intrude into environmentally sensitive areas along Brush Creek, there is precedent for allowing new development there, and the town’s code does allow for certain exceptions to its 25-foot wetlands setback rule (at least four of the Coffey Place lots and some proposed parking spaces would be slightly in violation of the rule).
Additional maps showed that the lots would not severely affect elk and mule deer winter range, a condition that would preclude any development whatsoever, and the portions that had slopes in excess of 30 degrees could be mitigated successfully, according to the contractor.
Wahlstrom said that his department felt the proposal met the rezoning standards, and he recommended approval. The applicant, which happened to be the town, as represented by Housing Director Betsy Crum, then made its presentation and expressed a willingness to go along with the staff’s recommendation.
Lastly, representatives from Charles Cunniffe Architects explained some of their rationale for platting the development where they did and discussed their efforts to blend Coffey Place into the existing neighborhood while rerouting and maintaining connectivity of the popular Seven Star mountain bike trail.
After the presentations, additional discussion about access, safety issues and dogs and questions from the council, council member Alyssa Shenk moved that the town approve the first hearing of the ordinance, and the movement passed unanimously.
The ordinance will now move on to a second hearing at the town’s regular council meeting on Aug. 19, when costs may also be discussed. If it passes again, groundbreaking on Coffey Place could occur as soon as next month.