Town, developer coming together on mitigation funding
December 19, 2005
BRECKENRIDGE – As phase 2 of the Wellington Neighborhood proceeds through the planning and approval process, consensus is growing that various off-site impacts should be addressed as part of the development process.The Breckenridge subdivision provides affordable housing for middle class locals, and developer David O’Neil wants to expand the neighborhood with 160 new units on an adjacent parcel. During previous town meetings, residents of the nearby French Creek neighborhood expressed concern about increased traffic if the development is approved, and asked town officials to address those impacts as part of the permitting process.At a work session in mid-December, the town council discussed how to put together a funding package that will cover the cost of desired traffic mitigation, estimated at about $522,000 in a 2004 study. That would cover pathway and intersection improvements, as well as a bus pullout and traffic calming measures in the nearby French Creek neighborhood, where residents are concerned that approval of the planned 160 units in the second phase of the development would exacerbate pedestrian safety issues.
Discussions indicate that the town, Summit County, the developer and other neighborhoods in the area will step up to cover at least part of the total. For now, there still appears to be a funding gap, and the town will continue to work with the other entities to close the shortfall.”I have a sense that the benefits that (Wellington developer) David O’Neil ought to provide us for this fairly substantial authorization to go forward with that many units at one time ought to relate to what we see as the potential impacts,” said Mayor Ernie Blake. Those impacts include traffic, infrastructure and childcare issues, but Blake singled out the need to ensure “safe and adequate pedestrian walkways in and around and to and from that area.”Blake discussed what he characterized as a “rough justice” formula for figuring out what the contribution from the Wellington developer should be toward those improvements, explaining that he is looking for a fair and equitable formula that is also quantifiable. One way of doing that might be to look at the total number of units in the area, including other nearby neighborhoods, and dividing the cost into that number, Blake said. Other uses, including traffic to and from daycare centers, trailheads and tourist attractions, should also be considered, Blake said. Using such a formula could help avoid questions about how much money the developer is making, or how much other developers are making on projects in the area, he added.
“Everybody agrees some traffic mitigation is needed,” said O’Neil, explaining that he expects to see construction on traffic mitigation to begin next summer. “I like Ernie’s style,” O’Neil said, referring to Blake’s effort to sketch out a fair formula for figuring out how to divvy up the costs. “What the council is talking about is how much money is on the table, how much more do we negotiate with David (O’Neil) and where do we get the rest,” said town manager Tim Gagen. The town and O’Neil may also explore the option of reserving part of the Wellington Phase 2 property as a site for a future child care center, said Councilmember Larry Crispell, explaining that Breckenridge is “falling behind on the ability to provide daycare to everyone who needs it.”Crispell praised the existing Wellington Neighborhood for “bringing to life what the town had hoped would happen up there,” and said he would expect that approval and construction of Phase 2 would mean even more young families with children in the area. Crispell said town officials have to be “responsible and realistic” in recognizing daycare needs. “We’re going to be even farther behind,” he said.
“David (O’Neil) has always shown that he’s receptive to created ideas … that are reflective of his own vision,” Crispell said. The daycare site may be the final piece of the Wellington Neighborhood puzzle, and Crispell said he’s confident that O’Neil will realize how it fits into the overall vision.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.