Snowmass Condominium Associations Ask Town To Abandon Nearby Workforce Housing Plans

Snowmass Condominium Associations Ask Town To Abandon Nearby Workforce Housing Plans

Several condominium associations in Snowmass Village are asking the town to abandon plans for proposed workforce housing developments near its condos.

Attorneys from Garfield & Hecht representing the Laurelwood Condominium Association sent a letter to town staff and Snowmass Town Council members on Jan. 16 requesting the town abandon the upper parking lots, which currently serve as skier parking spaces near the Snowmass Mall, as potential housing development sites. The condominium association, with support from the owners’ associations of the Timberline, Sonnenblick, Interlude, and Aspenwood Condominiums, oppose the development of 78 housing units in three of the five upper lots, which were proposed as potential housing development sites in the Snowmass housing master plan. 

The housing master plan was approved by the Town Council in 2021 as a framework for the town to add 185 units to its affordable workforce housing stock.

“Due to negative impacts on the community and the town’s prior commitments regarding the upper parking lots, the associations believe the town should discontinue pursuing the upper parking lots site now or in the future,” the letter to the town said. The Times obtained the letter through a Colorado Open Records Act request. 

The master plan identified several sites as viable opportunities to expand the housing stock, including a plot next to the public works facilities on Owl Creek Road, along Daly Lane, and the contested site at the upper parking lots, specifically parking lots 10-12. Approval of the housing master plan did not inherently approve the projects themselves, but it serves as a road map to meeting the town’s housing goals.

The proposed development of the parking lots in the housing master plan aims to maintain the existing 320 parking spaces in lots 10-12, while building 78 one- and two-bedroom apartment units and additional resident parking. The condo associations argue that building a parking structure to accommodate existing spaces and provide spaces for new workforce housing units would require “a considerable investment and overextend the capacity of these lots and surrounding areas.”

“In addition to these concerns, the associations assert that the increased traffic on Carriage Way would impact the quality of life of visitors and residents, reduce property values in the Upper Village, and create several years of environmental and community disturbance while construction progressions,” the letter said.

The lots are owned by the town and not the condo associations, which all sit adjacent to the parking lots. They provide parking to guests in the condos and nearby hotels, and to employees providing services to those properties, the condo associations argued. 

The condo associations, represented by attorneys Andrew Atkins and Haley Carmer, argue the town cannot change the use, number, access, or proximity of the upper parking lots without their consent. They cited a 1967 town declaration, a 1978 agreement between the town and what was at the time the Snowmass Resort Association, and a 2006 group sales agreement between the town and the Snowmass Village Resort Association (the successor to the Snowmass Resort Association).

The 1967 West Village general declaration obligated the Snowmass Resort Association to maintain parking areas and provided property owners and their guests a right of access to and use of the parking areas. The 1978 agreement transferred lots 1-13 to the town and required that “the land (the town) received from SRA would continue to be used as it had been in the past, including for parking lots, and that the parking lots would not be closed or changed in character ‘unless mutually agreed upon,'” according to the condo associations’ letter.

The 2006 group sales agreement obligated the town to provide “permanent access” to parking to properties adjacent to the parking lots. Under the agreement, the town also said it would notify all adjacent property owners of any proposed development that would change the current use of the lots, the associations said.

Development has not started on the proposed 78 housing units on lots 10-12, but the site was identified as one of the highest suitable sites in town to use for workforce housing because of its proximity to the mall and the grading infrastructure already in place, according to the housing master plan. It would cost about $73.5 million to develop, according to the master plan, the most expensive of the five proposed development sites.

“The upper lots, although ranked highest in the objective assessment, also remain one of the more controversial sites in this master housing plan,” the town’s plan states. “The use of day-skier parking is a high commodity, particularly with lot 12 that has direct skier access to the hill.”

The plan proposes keeping public parking below the residential building and would be altered in favor of angled parking to maximize spots.

According to the 2006 group sales agreement, the condo associations argue, if a majority of adjacent owners opposed a proposed development on the lots, it would require three-fourths of the Town Council to approve moving forward with the development.

The housing master plan is a component of the town’s comprehensive plan, which was recommended for adoption by the planning commission and formally adopted by the Town Council. Any changes to the housing master plan or the comprehensive plan would take formal action of at least both bodies, Town Manager Clint Kinney said. 

“We’re going to take the time and communicate with (the condo associations) to better understand their concerns,” Kinney said. “From what we understand today, they’re requesting a change to the comprehensive plan and the master plan, and there’s certainly a process to go through that.”

The condo associations will meet with town staff this week to discuss their concerns further. Dave Jacobsen, president of the Laurelwood board of directors, said the condo associations came together to address the town after continually expressing concern about the developments since the housing master plan was first being discussed.

“We need employee housing, no one’s denying that, but not in the parking lot of Fanny Hill,” Jacobsen said. “This is about what it would do to the local environment. That road and septic and water (systems) can’t handle it, and it’s about what it would do to all our guests, which are our bread and butter.”

The town is currently going through a planned unit development (PUD) process for another development from the housing master plan, the Draw Site, which would build 80 units of workforce housing on a parcel of land directly northwest of Snowmass Town Hall. The Town Council also recently discussed changing the land use development code for workforce housing developments to expedite the development process.

By: Lucy Peterson | Snowmass Sun I January 30, 2024

Work With Katherine