Crested Butte Brush Creek Affordable Housing – Not in my Backyard
There have been many polarizing issues in the Crested Butte area since we moved here full time in 2009 and all have something to do with change. The latest is the Affordable housing development at the corner of Highway 135 and Brush Creek Road. The site is somewhere between 13 and 17 acres. The land is owned by the Town of CB, the Town of Mt. CB, Gunnison County and CBMR. The current proposal is to develop this land to put approximately 240 apartment units and a transit center at this location.
The proponents position is this is much needed to support the need for workforce housing. The local businesses are unable to hire workers because there is a lack of workers because there is a lack of affordable housing. There are some who would also suggest this is needed because low income demographic people are cool, weird, and have been a fixture in Crested Butte for decades and so we need them around to ride their bikes on Townie Takeover, and to dance in the streets and light the fire during Vinotok and such…
The opponents say – not in my backyard. Too close to Skyland, and Larkspur. The mix of the real estate development is inconsistent with the surrounding use of single family homes sitting on ¼ to ½ acres in Skyland, Silver Sage, Rivergreen, and Larkspur. There will be too many people on too small of a site. There will be too much traffic at Brush Creek Road and Highway 135. The values of the surrounding real estate will be negatively affected. They also beat the drum that there has not been proper notice, public comment and a fair way for them to oppose, change, block, stop, or shut down this development.
I agree with both sides. When I hear we cannot hire new teachers or town staff because they cannot find affordable housing to live here – it seems there needs to be a better solution than commuting from Gunnison (which also has a similar issue). It appears we need more affordable housing apartments and it does not appear that this location is the best location geographically. I still scratch my head on the lack of a master plan and long-term thinking. Even the location of the previous affordable housing apartment building Anthracite place was shoehorned in as a quick fix. The town re-zoned a commercial zone to affordable housing residential instead of locating it in other zones already earmarked as affordable housing single family residential. So the town forfeited future tax revenues that could have been created via the commercial development. I don’t think there is enough long-term planning, and we seem to see knee jerk reactions to these issues…
So Where Else in Crested Butte?
If I were king – I would move the affordable housing project from Brush Creek to the town of Crested Butte property of 175 acres just South of the school (see aerial map).
Some will suggest that a portion of this land is a protected wetlands area. I have fished this section of the Slate River and walked through these “wetlands”. They are not holding any blue heron rookeries or elk – or anything but grass. But okay – there is enough land here without messing with the wetlands. So don’t touch the wetlands and have proper set-backs – there would plenty of real estate to support decades of master planned affordable residential housing growth.
The town could put some ¼ acres lots on the perimeter (like an extension of the Verzuh annexation) and could get $500,000+ for these parcels (thus helping to pay for the overall development without a bond). They could have a mixture of apartments, condo, town homes, and single family home zoning in this area along with affordable housing! I would build a road from the Riverbend subdivision to this development adjacent to the existing bike path – yes this land would need to be acquired from private landholders…
This would would be close to the school in town, the Mountain Express Bus could service this area, the grid of downtown would be expanded South, and it would solve the housing issue for many decades. Bam.
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