Dear Mountain Village community,
In last week’s Affordable Housing Mayor’s Minute we noted the end of the summer season.
We quickly now are wishing our fall season could be extended as we find ourselves at peak foliage, and a quick ride on the gondola is a simple reminder as to why we all treasure Mountain Village.
Given we all care about Mountain Village, it is not surprising the Town’s Comprehensive Plan is one of the most thoughtful and detailed planning documents in the state. The Town has been working on amendments to the Comprehensive Plan since launching the revision process in October 2020.
The amendment process was initiated because the 2011 Comprehensive Plan no longer reflected the realities of today’s economic or development climate. For example, the Comprehensive Plan envisions many properties being developed for traditional hotel use (also known as hotbeds) that have now been developed but not as traditional hotels. Additionally, the addition of the VRBO/Airbnb market has significantly changed the face of lodging nationwide.
As a result, Town Council determined over two years ago, that it was necessary to consider amendments to the Comprehensive Plan to provide future town councils, property owners, and community members solid, yet flexible, guidance to inform and support the critical decisions they, and future Councils, will face in years to come.
After a significant engagement period that included a community-wide survey and interviews with community stakeholders as well as input from the residents, second homeowners, lodgers, Telluride Ski and Golf Resort, restaurants, other merchants, and the community as a whole, the Town and planning consultants MIG and EPS, issued a draft of proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan in October 2021, and requested community feedback and comments with respect to those amendments.
Town Council has discussed the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments on multiple occasions, beginning in December of 2021. These discussions have been informed and amended by public comment, impacting Council’s perspective on the proposed amendments.
In a third Public Review Period, Town Council is once again seeking public opinion on the current draft of the amended Comprehensive Plan and will consider adopting the Comprehensive Plan amendments at its November 17 meeting.
Below are summaries of some of the most significant proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan. These changes are a direct reflection of the input the Town has received in the previous two public review periods.
Given the affordable housing crisis, the section regarding Community Housing has been expanded to include policies in support of the development of new community housing, as well as moving this section up much earlier in the Plan. It was generally agreed upon that much of that vision would be further clarified by Council’s own discussion of the Town-Owned Properties Plan as well as the housing mitigation methodology recently adopted by Council.
You may review the expanded Community Housing Section on pages 38-47 of the latest draft to read the draft as it currently stands.
The Town-Owned Properties Plan identifies parcels currently owned by the Town that Town staff believes provide realistic opportunities for development. These properties are now identified in the Amended Comprehensive Plan.
A housing mitigation methodology refers to a tool by which communities assess the impact development has on employee generation and, in turn, the need for additional deed-restricted housing. Council has adopted this mitigation methodology and it has been integrated into a new page within the Comp Plan that specifically addresses new strategies for current and future Councils to pursue regarding housing.
There appears to be a current misconception that the Comprehensive Plan is reducing affordable housing in Mountain Village, and we would like to assure the community that the latest draft sees an expanded density of affordable housing throughout the community overall. Please be sure to read last week's Mayor's Minute to learn more about the four affordable housing projects the Town is currently pursuing.
The Public Benefits Table has long been viewed as a significant component of the Comprehensive Plan. At times it has been viewed as a key mechanism by which the Town, which did not exist at the time the community was created, would be able to acquire certain rights and property ownership that a governmental entity would be expected to possess. These Public Benefits belong to the community as a whole and include key pieces of a community such as land dedicated for parks, trail easements, and the protection of Open Spaces. The latest draft of the Comprehensive Plan includes a Public Benefits table that reflects the public benefits that have, or will be, satisfied by virtue of the approved development of Lot 161-CR, better known as the Four Seasons.
The 2011 Comprehensive Plan identified an extensive number of parcels for future hotbed development. As noted above, none of these parcels have been developed exclusively for hotbed development. In light of this lack of development and a desire to maintain an appropriate balance of community and commerce, the initial draft amendments sought to take a realistic, yet optimistic approach to future hotbed development.
First, the initial draft identified those properties that were originally earmarked for hotbed development but have since been otherwise developed. Second, it looked at realistic density for the remaining parcels and adjusted these numbers given current community sentiment. Finally, the initial draft amendments highlighted certain areas not previously considered for hotbed development, but identified by TSG as hotbed development sites, albeit unvetted as to how realistic such development would be in the future.
The public response to the proposed changes to hotbed development was overwhelmingly negative. The majority of public comments received by the Town indicated that the initial draft contained the potential for too much future hotbed development. In its initial review, Council agreed the first draft contained too many potential hotbeds and the draft failed to appropriately prioritize key parcels for such development. Council gave direction to make clear which sites were priorities and to create an appendix containing lower-priority sites.
Ultimately, staff generated a list of priority hotbed locations and realistic densities, but it was determined an appendix may mislead or confuse future property owners and residents. Council has now identified the following parcels as top priorities for hotbed development:
In addition to modifying the hotbed tables, the most recent edits, among other things, revised the existing conditions table to reflect the existence of both hotbeds and VRBOs/Airbnbs given both contribute to the local economy and community to varying degrees.
During a prior public comment period, the community overwhelmingly indicated the potential hotbed development set forth in the draft reflected too much development. Many commenters have suggested hotbed development should be limited to Lot 161-CR and the Pond Lots as well as Lot 109-R. The project team would like to reiterate that the Comprehensive Plan does not propose or incentivize any hotbed development. Rather, it indicates potential densities and priority locations for hotbed development, were it to be proposed by a developer.
During the public comment period the Town received extensive comments with respect to the Meadows Subarea. Although Council has already suggested significant revisions to the Meadows Subarea, Council provided direction to staff to form the Meadows Resident Advisory Board.
The Meadows Resident Advisory Board and Meadows residents provided extensive suggestions for future development and associated public benefits in the Meadows Subarea. The current draft of the amended Comprehensive Plan includes the following changes to density in the Meadows:
As shown in this table, in the Meadows Development Table, up to 28 additional units are targeted beyond what is currently platted, which may be appropriate in exchange for public benefits.
Open Space/Future Land Use Map
The 2011 Comprehensive Plan sets forth six different categories of open space:
- Passive Open Space
- Full Use Active Open Space
- Limited Use Ski Resort Active Open Space
- Limited Use Golf Course Active Open Space
- Resource Conservation Active Open Space
- Right of Way and Access Active Open Space
The initial draft sought to simplify the future land use categorization of open space and eliminated the categories above and classified open space as either Passive Open Space or Active Open Space. In response to significant public comment, much of which indicated a desire to maintain clarity as to the type of active open space envisioned on a given lot, the six open space future land use designations were restored in the current draft.
It is the clear intent of the Comp Plan, both as currently in effect as well as the proposed amendment, to maintain open space throughout Mountain Village and further identify possible uses, when applicable. Any proposed change to an open space parcel would require conformance with the Future Land Use Map, which means that open space parcel would need to be rezoned (by a town rezone process) to the open space category as shown on the future land use map in the Comp Plan. The associated uses are found in the Use Table in the CDC.
It cannot be emphasized enough how much Town Council values and incorporates public comment into its decision-making process with respect to all issues, including the Comprehensive Plan amendments. This could not be clearer with respect to the Comprehensive Plan as it relates to hotel development, public benefits, and open space.
The initial drafts suggested there was a desire among stakeholders and the public to pursue a certain path with respect to those issues, but the public comment provided during the public review period made clear those paths did not have the support of the community, and Council responded.
The Town now asks for your input at what may be the most important part of the amendment process. You may review the third Comprehensive Plan amendment draft and share your feedback with us through our online comment form.
We look forward to hearing from you.