Failing to plan is planning to fail

Dear Editor:

The Brush Creek affordable housing plan proposes 240 rental units with 816 residents crammed into a 17-acre parcel two miles from town. Does this sound compatible with the Crested Butte culture and ideals? In Crested Butte we are all too familiar with the problems that develop when too many people are crammed into too small a space. In the rush to provide more affordable housing, our governments are abandoning their responsibilities of oversight and proper planning. The developer wants to maximize the number of units and profit on his land parcel, but government normally acts as a brake on runaway density such as this. The problem is government is looking for a cheap and expedient way to create more affordable housing. As a former County Attorney who has dealt with land use issues many times, I am saddened that our community officials appear so willing to sacrifice quality of life issues for the future occupants, as well as the community at large. I am fully supportive of reasonable density affordable housing throughout our community, but the density of this plan is unprecedented in Crested Butte. This congestion will impact the quality of life of our citizens and raise issues regarding water, sewer, transportation, traffic, parking, and community services. This plan proposes to house two thirds of the population of the town of Crested Butte on a small parcel of land miles from any services. Who will pay for police and fire protection for this minitown? Who will supply the water? The developer plans a small community sewer plant, but these plants are usually frowned upon by municipalities for good reason. Small community sewer plants often fail after a few years, leaving the taxpayers with unexpected service expense and cleanup after the developer is long gone. As a back-up sewer plan, the developer proposes that the town of Crested Butte increase its present sewer capacity, and run a sewer line two miles just to service his mini-town. It is unclear who will pay for these significant increased costs. In addition, the developer only proposes 300 parking spaces for his 816 residents. His rationale is that the residents will bus and bike everywhere. While buses and bikes are used extensively in our community, most residents also require cars to access the spectacular trails of our backcountry. Therefore, adequate parking will be non-existent for these residents. In addition, housing a large number of people outside of town will require increased bus service and associated increased costs. As of yet, we have not heard from any one person or organization planning to pay all of these additional expenses. Furthermore, the Brush Creek intersection will experience a major increase in traffic and will require extensive modifications. These modifications will likely include a traffic light and a lower speed limit on Route 135 to safely accommodate the increased auto and bus traffic turning at this intersection. Also, as you can imagine a development of this size (816 residents) will also increase the traffic congestion in the town of Crested Butte. Affordable housing plans work best when they are blended throughout the area so its residents are an integral part of the community. The current plan proposes to segregate affordable housing residents outside of the towns of Crested Butte and Gunnison where the greatest need for affordable housing exists. The plan will also isolate its residents from the community and the services they will need. This proposal may sound like a cheap fix for our affordable housing problem, but poor planning will create many unintended quality of life consequences and financial costs.

Gregg Wilson, Crested Butte