Black Mountain Basalt Development Moves Forward with Unanimous Sketch Plan Approval

Stephanie Kroll

In a significant move for the proposed Black Mountain Basalt development at the Jadwin parcel in Basalt, Town Council has unanimously approved the sketch plan, signaling progress in the quest for much-needed affordable housing. However, the decision comes with the understanding that there is still intricate work to be done as the project navigates the complex landscape of local development.

Mayor Bill Kane, expressing the town's urgency in addressing housing challenges, highlighted the significance of the project, even if not perfect. The Black Mountain Basalt development aims to offer a solution, with an impressive commitment of 50% affordable housing, a factor that swayed the council's favor.

The partners in Jadwin Park LLC have actively engaged with the Basalt Town Council, making adjustments to their plans over months of discussions. The latest iteration of the sketch plan showcases a reduction in the number of units, with a focus on creating a mix of studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 3-bedroom units, responding to the council's emphasis on family-oriented housing.

A notable aspect of the plan is the dedication to 50% deed-restricted units, distributed across various Area Median Income (AMI) categories and Resident-Owned (RO) deed-restricted units. The commitment exceeds Basalt requirements by 10%, demonstrating the developers' intent to contribute significantly to the town's affordable housing goals.

However, the path to approval was not without challenges. Councilor David Knight expressed skepticism about the "First Tracks" program, urging the applicants to provide a more detailed plan to ensure long-term commitment to selling to local residents. The concerns centered around enforceability over generations, but Michael Forrest, part of the applicant team, provided reassurance based on the LLC's lender requirements and interest from affordable housing partners.

The developers have secured Letters of Intent from local employers, such as Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority, and Roaring Fork Schools, expressing interest in acquiring units for their employees. This adds a layer of community support to the project.

The proposed development incorporates diverse features such as short-term rental fishing cabins, an "experience manager" for cabin guests, a bikeshare program, electric vehicle charging, and ample green and open space with access to the Roaring Fork River. The commitment to environmental consciousness and community engagement is evident.

Traffic concerns were a pivotal part of the discussions, with proposed solutions addressing right-turn issues and the slip lane from Emma Road to Highway 82. The plan includes dedicated right-turn lanes and improvements to the slip lane to accommodate emergency services. A traffic study showcased a reduction in density and waiting time at nearby intersections, addressing some of the initial concerns.

Public comment, on the whole, leaned in favor of the project, emphasizing the critical need for affordable housing. However, some concerns were raised by the community group Keep Basalt Special, reflecting the ongoing dialogue between developers and the town's residents.

The unanimous approval of the sketch plan for the Black Mountain Basalt development signifies a step forward in addressing Basalt's housing challenges. As the project moves into the next phase, developers and the town will continue to collaborate, ensuring that the final development aligns with the community's needs while adhering to environmental and traffic considerations. The balance between progress and preservation remains at the forefront of this transformative endeavor.

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