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.