The Roaring Fork School District is taking a cooperative approach with the town of Carbondale on its latest plan to build 50 new staff housing units on a piece of district-owned property near Roaring Fork High School.
District officials and their planning consultant are slated to go before the Carbondale Board of Trustees and the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission next week seeking comments and suggestions on the plan.
Because the project will be on school district property and does not involve a subdivision or rezoning, the district is not required to obtain formal town approval.
However, the district intends to design the housing to conform with the town’s land use code, project planner Bob Schultz said.
“We are still designing the project to the UDC (unified development code) and will have a schematic design for the purposes of seeking comment,” he said. “We want this to be something the town is proud of.”
The subject property is a portion of the former Smith Ranch where The North Face clothing company once had designs on relocating its corporate headquarters in the late 1990s.
When that plan fell apart, the land came into the hands of the Roaring Fork School District, which relocated the high school to the southern portion of the site; the town of Carbondale, which developed North Face Park on the northeast side; and the Carbondale Fire District, which built its headquarters and the new fire training facility on the northwest corner.
A strip of vacant land fronting Meadowood Drive to the east of the RFHS student parking lot entryway is where the school district now plans to build 50 rental houses in three buildings.
The two buildings nearest Meadowood Drive are to be two stories tall, and there will be a three-story building on the back side nearest the high school practice fields.
The plan calls for eight studio, 10 one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom and 16 three-bedroom rental units to be made available for qualifying district teachers and staff at below-market rental rates. The housing mix was based on a survey of district employees, Schultz said.
Any new school district buildings are reviewed, approved and inspected by the state of Colorado, but local communities can be consulted regarding design and potential impacts, he said.
The town’s trustees will get a look at those plans at their regular Oct. 25 meeting, and there will be a presentation to P&Z on Oct. 27.
In addition to Schultz, the district has retained an architect to work on the design and a general contractor to estimate pricing and provide additional design advice.
The housing would be designed, owned and operated by the district for its employees in accordance with existing rental housing guidelines adopted by the District.
In 2015, district voters approved $15 million in bonds to build or purchase district employee housing. That resulted in the acquisition or construction of 66 units spread between Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Carbondale.
The other Carbondale units are also on district-owned land next to the District Offices and Bridges High School.
“The dramatic changes in the housing market since 2015 have led the district to identify the need for additional housing to staff our schools and departments,” Jeff Gatlin, Chief Operating Officer for the school district, said in a news release.
“The existing housing units have been very helpful in supporting our staff and ongoing requests for access to rental units and the success of our current housing inventory have led the district to pursue additional housing on district-owned property,” he said, noting that no additional taxes are proposed.
After the town’s comments have been considered, the project design will be finalized and submitted to the state for review.
Units would be rented based on the district’s housing guidelines that were developed and refined for the prior 66 units. Rent is based on income.
Construction is expected to begin next spring, and the new housing could be available for employees for the 2024-25 school year, the release states.
By: John Stroud I The Aspen Times I October 20, 2022