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Teacher housing project goes before P&Z

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By Will Grandbois
Sopris Sun Staff Writer


Two years after the Community Partnership Development was finally deemed economically infeasible, a smaller Roaring Fork School District housing complex is in the works along South Third Street.

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In contrast with the 100-odd-unit pre-recession plan, which would have filled most of the field between Bridges High School and the Third Street Center, the design calls for 20 apartments totaling 33,000 square feet on a 1.37 acre plot currently mostly occupied by a bus barn. Also unlike the old design, it would be entirely reserved for RFSD staff and there’s already $5 million earmarked for the purpose.

That’s how much each community – Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs – was allocated to address the challenge of teacher housing following the passage of a major bond issue in 2015. The district is already in the process of purchasing 17 units in Willits and building six  in Glenwood Springs. The bond also provided funds for a new transportation center in El Jebel, which will replace the Carbondale location and is slated to begin operation this month.

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The Carbondale Community Partnership Village is slated to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for rezoning to Residential/High Density shortly after 7 p.m. on March 16 at Town Hall (511 Colorado Avenue). Town staff have recommended approval, which an application compiled by Bob Schultz Consulting (tinyurl.com/PZ170316packet) indicates was the goal of the design.

“The prime directive for the planning exercise was to design within the guidance of the UDC in order to offer the town a project in compliance and therefore expedient to review and approve,” it reads. If the process goes smoothly, the district hopes to begin construction this summer with move-in sometime in 2018.

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To that end, RFSD agreed to expand the rear boundary of the site somewhat to meet landscaping requirements while keeping building height to two stories. Even so, the recreational field behind the site will be preserved under its current zoning, according to RFSD Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gatlin. No further developments are planned beyond the 20 units outlined, he added, with 16 slated up front with room for four more at a later date. A mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments are planned based on ratios from a staff survey.

The application emphasizes the walkability of the location and the pedestrian friendly features of the design, with the 38 required parking spaces located near the rear of the lot while front doors mostly face Third Street.

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“The proposal meets the three segments of the vision statement in “Small Town Character Vision and Goals” by 1) keeping the downtown as the heart of the community by provision of housing near the downtown and center of commerce; 2) maintaining a compact form which reduces dependence on automobiles by providing housing near employment; and 3) maintains the small town character providing housing options that allow residents to live in the communities where they work,” the application notes. “The design team hopes that over time a civic space might develop framed by 3rd St., Bridges HS, the Library, and the Community Partnership Housing.”

The plan includes extension of water and sewer mains, utility easements and street improvements. It also calls for a new gravel fire access line to the Bridges parking lot and thus with Weant Boulevard and Highway 133, but only for emergency access.

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The total cost of the project and rates for tenants are pending, but the district expects to make some money on rent after operating and capital expenses.

“This surplus will be reinvested back into the program and could go towards more rental units or some type of ownership assistance,” Gatlin explained.

Further, if the units are subdivided or condominiumized in order to be sold in the future, RFSD has agreed to comply with the Community Housing requirements. According to Building Official John Plano, the actual construction of the project will be overseen by the state, not the town.


Published in The Sopris Sun on March 16, 2017. 
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