Monthly Archives: November 2006

Basalt rejects Roaring Fork Club plan

The Basalt Town Council’s decision (5-1) to instruct its staff to prepare denial documents on the Roaring Fork Club golf club’s expansion proposal is the most significant decision for the board since the election of three new board members in April. The board members Amy Capon, Gary Tennenbaum, and Chris Seldin were elected, in large part, due to concerns over the proposed expansion and its relationship the the Town’s Master Plan. All three ran voicing their support of the current Master Plan. As Scott Condon writes on the decision,

The council majority said they didn’t believe the application by developer Jim Light and his partners complied with the Basalt land-use master plan, a blueprint for where and how the town wants to grow.

Council members cited the application’s request that the town annex property outside an “urban growth boundary.”

The Roaring Fork Club is east of the Elk Run subdivision. It has an 18-hole golf course and 48 luxury cabins. It applied to add 32 cabins, 18 single-family homes and 36 affordable residences.

To a large degree, the Roaring Fork Club was victimized by a changing of the guard on the council and a poor decision by the council in June 2005. Here’s the sequence of events that led to Tuesday night’s denial:

• The project is submitted in August 2004.

• After months of debate and opposition from a citizens group, Light suggests on June 21, 2005, that the town place the Roaring Fork Club application on a shelf for up to eight weeks. That would give the town time to work on an update to the master plan in the area where the club wants to expand. The council and the town planning commission decline the offer. They say the review of the application and the update of the master plan can occur concurrently.

• The council’s decision motivates a citizens group to oppose the project on grounds that the master plan is being ignored. That group stayed engaged in the process throughout the next 17 months.

• In April 2006, three new council members are voted into office. Tennenbaum, Seldin and Capron pledged in the campaign to the uphold the master plan.

• The Roaring Fork Club clears its first hurdle. The town planning commission grants first-round approval. However, the commission doesn’t debate whether the plan complies with the master plan. That left the threshold issue to the council, and on Tuesday night the hammer fell.

Rappaport and Dows acknowledged, to some degree, that they voted to let the review go concurrently with the update of the master plan back in June 2005. That process “failed,” Rappaport said. He and Dows also said they have heard from numerous residents in public hearings since then that the master plan must be upheld or changed via a process that allows all citizens to participate.

Public hearings on the master plan update are expected later this year or in early 2007.

Read the full article by Scott Condon . . .


Oil-shale leases OK’d Five 160-acre locations on Western Slope

The oil trapped in the oil shale of Western Colorado maybe vast, but it is unclear whether it makes economic sense to get it. Canadian Peter Tertzakian thinks supplying the world’s 1,000 barrel a second oil addiction will be far from easy. But that doesn’t mean businesses aren’t hedging their bets.

Earlier this week, the Bush administration authorized oil-shale leases for five sites on public land in western Colorado. As Mike Soraghan writes, they are the first leases since the shale bust of the 1980s wrenched the region’s economy.

The approval was for relatively small-scale “research and development” leases, but it was the government’s biggest endorsement yet of oil shale, a vast petroleum resource with a checkered past.

The 10-year research and development leases clear the way for Shell, Chevron Corp. and EGL Resources to use 160-acre sites of public land between Rangely and Meeker in Rio Blanco County.

The leases can be converted later into larger, commercial leases.

Shell has been operating on private land in the area, but shale deposits owned by the federal government are thicker and richer with organic material.

All three of the companies are experimenting with heating the shale underground to melt organic material into oil, then pumping it out of the ground.

Read the full article by Mike Soraghan . . .

Summit County votes for affordable housing

This summer, when Summit Housing Authority Board decided to put a funding question on the ballot, the polls did not look particularly good.

The proposed combination of a new sales tax and impact fees – fees assessed on new construction based on square footage – was the most popular scenario among respondents, but garnered support from only 47 percent of those surveyed.

The sales tax increase of 12.5 cents per hundred dollars will raise about $1.4 million. The graduated impact fees start at zero for smaller units and go up to $2 per square foot for units bigger than 5,000 square-feet, generating an expected $2 million the first year.

With projected funding of up to $3.4 million the first year, the new Multi-jurisdictional Housing Authority (MJHA) hopes to gear and build up to 50 units of affordable housing per year.

Read the full article by Bob Berwyn . . .

Carbondale aims to be renewable energy Mecca

While the western portion of Garfield County is booming with oil and gas development, and the associated environmental impacts, the eastern end of the county is looking in a different direction for energy production.

Carbondale Question 2F on the Nov. 7 ballot will ask voters to allow the town of Carbondale to issue up to $1.8 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to construct and operate two large-scale solar systems.

The proposed systems would provide about 250 kilowatts (KW) of power. One of the systems would be the largest solar system in western Colorado.

Voting “yes” on 2F will increase the town’s debt, but will not raise local taxes. Revenue from the solar systems will pay off the bonds over the next 20 years. And, under a provision of the 2005 Energy Incentives Tax Act, the interest on the CREBs will be paid by the U.S. Government.

Carbondale trustees unanimously decided to pursue the CREBs after the town’s advisory environmental board produced the Carbondale Energy Plan earlier this year. The plan outlines specific ways Carbondale can reduce its contribution to global warming.

The CREBs will fund two separate solar projects, one for 50 kilowatts (KW) and one for 200 KW. The 50 KW system will be located at the Carbondale Elementary School (the town is in negotiations with the school district to purchase the property) or the new recreation center and the larger system will be located either at Colorado Rocky Mountain School or at the town’s Roaring Fork water plant.

Read full article by Gina Guarascio . . .

Meanwhile Boulder considers a Carbon Tax . . .