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In the Buena Vista Trustees regular meeting on Tuesday evening, Jan. 11, Planning Director Joseph Teipel shared that Town staff have concluded the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage of the Carbonate Street project for the two, town-owned parcels. He recapped the five main desired outcomes of the project:

  • Create a minimum of 65 new housing units of various types with rents or sale prices serving households earning between 80 – 140 percent Average Median Income (AMI). No short-term rentals allowed; condominiums prohibited in perpetuity
  • Offer preferential treatment for local employers and employees in the tenant selection process and criteria
  • Ensure long-term ownership  and management either immediately, or eventually, turned over to Chaffee Housing Authority
  • Develop a new childcare space built to serve children ages newborn to five-years-old
  • Create new commercial space(s) built aimed at cultivating and supporting local year-round entrepreneurs and businesses

The town issued an RFP on November 9, asking development firms to submit proposals on how they would approach developing the parcels, what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to structure a deal with the town.

Courtesy of the Town of Buena Vista.

“We had two actually submit proposals,” Teipel said. “One was called RW Partners, based in the Front Range, and the other was Fading West Development…Staff is recommending that we take the next step with Fading West.”

Teipel clarified that staff is only asking the board for a “head-nod” to continue with conversations with Fading West, not an approval or agreement. He said that staff could come back to the board with more information and terms.

Teipel included a brief potential road map for the development process, beginning with finalizing comfort and commitment to the project with Fading West in January and February. Next would be a presentation to and approval from the board on March 8, 2022, finalizing and executing the development agreement and entering the Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) for the land transfer with deed restrictions later in March, and a community engagement process from March to June.

That would be followed in summer 2022, with a joint meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Trustees for the sketch plan in July, followed by a close on the property transfer in August. The Phase I preliminary and final plat and major site plan reviews would run from October to December, with Phase I approved in January 2023, a groundbreaking in April 2023, and Phase II plats and approval through the end of 2023. Phase II would break ground in March of 2024.

Trustee Lucrezi said that she liked to see the support of local businesses in the partnership with Fading West, but added that she “has some concerns” as a homeowner in The Farm which is managed by Fading West.

She would be on board with giving staff the green light on the conversations, “assuming there will be lots of communication and transparency moving forward.” She pointed to concerns about communication, Homeowner Association (HOA) involvement, management, and affordability.

“All the points that Trustee Lucrezi brought up are elements that we as staff need to make sure are represented in the term sheets we bring before you on March 8,” said Teipel, adding that many of her concerns would be clarified in the terms sheet. “So when you all are looking at this terms sheet, you’re able to say, ‘yes, I believe in these terms.’”

Mayor Lacy clarified that trustees aren’t giving approval for a contract, just to continue the conversation.

Trustee Rowe asked if Fading West had worked on a project like this before and wanted to be sure that there was “competency and professionalism” with the developers. “What was the matrix difference between Fading West and RW Partners?”

Teipel said that he “was actually really surprised, pleasantly so, with the presence that Fading West brought, not only in their proposal but to their conversation. There was a full acknowledgment from their team that they are not perfect and that The Farm is not perfect.” He explained that, when building The Farm, they had been hesitant to do deed restrictions, but now were open to learning the role that deed restrictions can play in development.

Another concern was the factory for building the development, as Fading West is a modular home company. Teipel emphasized that part of the ongoing conversation is to set up contingency plans for upsets in their production line, cost changes, and other potential issues.

Trustee Cindy Swisher said she does believe that The Farm and Fading West have made a great contribution to the community, but that when they built The Farm, it was “bare minimum, no upgrades …when they go in and build this, we want to make sure that we’re getting upgrades so that it does have the potential to withstand time.” Mayor Lacy and Teipel both said that there would be ongoing conversations about ensuring that the properties can be sold 15-20 years down the line.

Trustee Norm Nyberg also made the point that The Farm was built out of state and that Fading West’s local building capability will give them more control over the process. Trustee Rowe raised questions about parking, and Teipel said it was part of the ongoing conversation. Mayor Lacy said it may change the numbers and layout.

Hearing no other questions, Trustee Norm Nyberg moved to move forward with discussions with Fading West, and Trustee Cindy Swisher seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Stackhaus Annexation petition received

The board moved on to discuss a petition for annexation from Stackhaus, LLC. The property, known as 15750 County Road 306, would be a “flagpole annexation,” including a stretch of CR 306.

Teipel said that this is mainly an acknowledgment of receipt of the petition, not a discussion of whether they will approve the annexation. The concept was originally proposed in February 2021, followed by extensive work with the owner, Alex Telthorst, to develop the current petition. Telthorst submitted a complete application for the annexation and zoning of 15750 CR 306 on December 13, 2021.

Teipel explained the formal receipt of the petition will be followed by the board either passing or not passing a resolution to accept the petition. If accepted, a date will be set for a public hearing.

The petitioned “flagpole” annexation. Courtesy of the Town of Buena Vista.

Mayor Lacy compared Telthorst’s building plans to the Carbonate Street project in that he hopes to build affordable long-term housing.

“If we do not pursue this particular timeline, the natural result will likely be a few months’ delay in that clock…if it’s not this one, then it’s probably a few months away.”

Trustee Fay moved to adopt the proposed timeline, beginning with letters going out to abutting landowners January 12, 2022, and Trustee Lucrezi seconded. The motion was approved unanimously.

In their last business item, the board approved moving their March 22 meeting to March 29, 2022. The motion, seconded by Fay was approved unanimously.

Trustee-Staff Interaction

Trustee David Volpe said that while the board tends to get excited about the sales tax graph, he wondered about the utility of the graphs since they have no control over it. “It’s just something we pay attention to that we don’t need to pay attention to,” he said.

Trustee Rowe expressed his curiosity about whether there had been any update from Urban Inc. on Collegiate Commons. “It was finished and we didn’t hear anything.”

Town Administrator Phillip Puckett said they hadn’t heard anything formal from them but that they could request an update.

Trustee Rowe also asked if there was any update on housing and pricing, particularly how the short-term rental cap had worked. He said he’d heard that lots weren’t selling as fast or at as high prices as expected. Trustee Volpe asked about the grant the housing authority had applied for.

Teipel replied that the grant in question was the 1271 Housing Affordability Planning Grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). “It won’t probably tie a causal link to the short-term rental (STR) ordinance and our housing prices,” Teipel explained, “but it will be looking at our overall housing needs and diving far more deeply into what we need as a community.”

Teipel said that in their own use of the DOLA grant, they concluded an RFP was needed; selecting a consultant to help them do a code audit in addition to looking at their development review processes and procedures. They’ll be looking at a decision at the start of next week.

Trustee Nyberg expressed his gratitude to one of Chief Morgan’s officers for helping to prevent an elderly woman from being scammed. “Once I got the phone call, he went right over there and took care of things.”

He added that discussing mental health for officers is key, and shared his own experience with stressful and potentially traumatic situations. “…There is a lot of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) out there … The way things are in this day and age, that has to be one of the beneficial things we can do for them,” he said. “It’s hard…It’s one thing they’ve opened their eyes to, and it’s well worth the tasks they’re doing because it’s out there.”

Trustee Swisher responded to Trustee Volpe, saying she appreciates hearing about the sales tax as it impacts the budget. She also shared that there had been talk about raising the Trustees’ and Mayor’s compensation amounts for the incoming trustees (the April 2022 election.) Puckett said he had compiled some information for the Mayor, and they agreed to add it to the next meeting’s agenda.

Trustee Fay said that the Town of Buena Vista would open the Piñon Room for folks to get help with their taxes on Thursday afternoons, starting around February 10, 2022. They will offer free electronic filing.

Town Clerk Paula Barnett said that there are several petitions up for trustee and mayor and that the deadline is January 24, 2022.

The board adjourned at 9:52 p.m. The next regular meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 25. Staff and the public are invited to join the meeting virtually. To participate in public comments or public hearings, you must connect to the video conference.