By Larry Brannian
There have been a few letters recently about the housing project being considered for the corner of Brush Creek Road and Colorado 135. I would ask all of our community members to examine this proposal closely because detailed analysis of the proposal shows that the impacts of the project go far beyond the purported satisfaction of the perceived current workforce housing needs. The impacts to our community associated with the proposed development are significant, material and all negative: increases traffic (the addition of 600-800 vehicles plus increased bus activity – 22 bus trips per day), school capacity problems, unavailability of water, lack of available fire protection, lack of available police protection without additional costs, unavailability of sewer service without incurring excessive costs, development incompatibility with adjacent neighborhoods, lack of viable plan for snow removal and the list could go on.
My concern however is with the lack of honesty, integrity and communication that has been shown (or not shown) by the developer.
Let’s begin with the third page of the proposal where it states: “Our local team has met with various stakeholders and neighbors during the last couple of months and we have taken their comments into account in designing the project.” This statement is simply not true. There are seven communities that are “neighbors” to the site and there was not one meeting held by either the developer or the County to allow these impacted communities to make comments that could be “taken into account”. Furthermore, Gatesco representatives attended the Skyland Community Association meeting after the submittal was selected. At that meeting, Mr. Gates was asked if he would meet with community representatives of the neighborhoods to see if compromise solutions could be discussed that would consider a revised proposal that both could support. His answer was a succinct, but firm and unequivocal NO. So, Mr. Gates didn’t meet with neighbors first as he incorrectly states in his proposal and when he did he was not willing to “take comments into account”. Is this the type of developer we want in our community?
The Proposal contains any number of inconsistencies, exaggerations, misstatements, and misleading representations, all to paint a pretty picture but filled with major inaccuracies. An example is Mr. Gates discussion of the stated population for the project (816 men, woman and children) and either the lack of appropriate parking in the plan or the ignorance as to potential impacts on an already crowded Crested Butte Community School. It would appear to me that there is a lack of connection between the parking calculations shown on page 16 of the proposal and the total population shown on page 21 under water planning. For example, a 3 bedroom unit shows occupancy of 6 people, but only 2 parking spaces are proposed for each unit. Are there four children and 2 adults or 6 adults? If its kids, the project could generate over 300 new students to our already overcrowded community school. Who will pay for the increased capacity?
If its adults, it’s likely that 5 or 6 parking spaces would be needed, assuming 20% might take a bus or ride a bike. Regardless of one’s thoughts on the bus or bike option, it is more likely that more parking spaces will be need for the increased number of cars than are currently estimated, because of the project’s distance from services, amenities and jobs. The same lack of accuracy is shown in the 2 bedroom calculations. If we assume instead that it’s adults and not students, the revised parking number would be a minimum number of 600 spaces and the 342 parking spaces proposed is woefully short. If there are more cars than parking spaces, will vehicles be parked along Brush Creek and existing adjacent neighborhoods (Larkspur and Skyland)? We note that the proposal fails to discuss solutions for dogs (everyone in Crested Butte has one or two dogs), snow mobiles, jet skis, campers. motor bikes, bicycles (minimum of two per adult), snow and water skis, water boards, and boats. Depending on the actual adult population, residents of the project will have one or more or all of these items. Where will the dogs live and where will the equipment be stored.
The proposal provides for two phases of construction, the first consisting of the transit center, the 8-plexes and the 16-plexes. There is no breakdown how many units in the 8 and 16-plexes will be work force housing. There is no discussion as to what happens if phase two is never started. There is no discussion as to what happens if the development is not economically viable and if there is a foreclosure. Will work force housing continue to be available by subsequent owners.
The proposal does not contain any description of costs, the amount of Gatesco’s real equity investment, the amount of long term financing, the square footage of the project, costs per square foot, building heights, comparison of building heights in the Corner as compared to neighboring housing. It appears that the Gatesco development will tower above surrounding homes. The proposal is replete with meaningful omissions.
In summary, the proposal is not accurate, trustworthy nor is it in keeping with what this community values, honesty, integrity and a willingness to work together toward a common goal.
The County and its partners must not approve the proposed development but must consider a strategic and long range countywide plan for workforce housing. Workforce housing should be at the top of everyone’s list. All available resources should be utilized. A plan that is in keeping with the recommendations of the housing assessment should be adopted that suggests opportunities in the south, mid and north valley areas, and not just in one place which has no services utilities, has significant mitigation requirements and which would be totally incompatible with surrounding neighborhoods. Once that comprehensive plan is done, Gatesco can certainly resubmit a plan in response along with other qualified developers.