This week’s question – Many of you have addressed the lack of housing in Kremmling. One reader was concerned that requirements for curb, gutter, and sidewalks would be waived for future developers.
What are your initial thoughts on this?
How would you balance the needs of long-term planning with the immediate needs of developers and the lack of housing?
How would you research controversial topics for the best solutions for Kremmling?
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Erik C. Woog
This is a very complex and multifaceted question. I’m certain this question was not raised by coincidence, but rather that Kremmling was faced with this exact decision in the very recent past, whereas a developer was asking for some variance, and indicated they would not be able to move forward unless some compromise was found. As you can see, the result was no compromise made and the developer ultimately walked. It is critical for a community to look back in order to effectively move forward, we all apply this logic when making important decisions personally. That said, what could have been done to achieve a different outcome can only be rendered through careful analysis and consideration of all the facts. Identify first that the community wants and needs more housing.
On somewhat of a side note, our housing shortage is very obviously a function of rising property values in the surrounding areas leaving Kremmling as the obvious vacuum. A large number of residents have chosen Kremmling as their home due to the affordability in comparison to the outlying resort areas. It seems inevitable that for this reason, property values will begin to homogenize with these other areas. With respect to affordable housing, we equally lack housing on the other end of the spectrum also. For instance, how do we attract a long-term high-quality doctor without an appropriate housing solution for he or she in Kremmling. Anyway back to my point, consider that the developer is just a businessman looking for the best possible return on investment, then establish that the board’s role is to make reasonable and defensible decisions to help affect the best possible outcome for the community. Add to this, the requirements outlined in the question are paid for upfront by the developer, and then almost immediately turned over to the town for maintenance and upkeep, consideration must be given to what the town can bear in terms of budgeting for this sort of thing. Now take a look around at the streets, curb, and gutter that we cannot afford to upkeep presently.
Also, consider that the vast majority of our community does not have curb, gutter, or sidewalk, and in some cases where it is present, the streets are so narrow such as Kremmling country, the sidewalk is used for parking. Let’s not forget the purpose of a sidewalk before we arbitrarily burden ourselves with more concrete to look after. Perhaps solutions could be put forward that included a sidewalk on one side of the street rather than both. Another plausible scenario is phased development, whereas the developer has a chance to recover cost outlays through property sales and later move on to the next phase of development. In some ways, things like this self-regulate, the developer is a businessman, if he or she wants someone to buy a home in their subdivision, they surely must be smart enough to know that the amenities have to be attractive enough to entice a buyer.
It is doubtful that without City oversight that he or she would create a subdivision with 10′ wide gravel streets. Not to sound like a broken record, but the addition of more home sites, streets with curb and gutter, additional supportive infrastructure such as water and sewer lines only add a net burden to the budget which contrary to popular belief is not offset by property taxes. One could infer however, more citizens will result in more commerce and thus more retail sales tax, however, that has not historically been the case or we wouldn’t be struggling to maintain what we have. Regarding the “dangerous precedent” theory posed in the original question, all variance decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. It would stand to reason that a subdivision aimed at answering affordable housing needs may have different requirements then one efforting to meet a high-end market with respect to street widths, curb, gutter and sidewalks. So once again, the pragmatist in me would have us proceed with consideration for all facets of the issue with an emphasis on of course, affordability.
Someone recently said to me, “wouldn’t it be nice if someone donated a 5 million dollar rec center to Kremmling”… I replied, “Only if he or she agreed to staff it, insure it, and maintain it because we certainly don’t have the fiscal wherewithal to do it ourselves”. It’s not all doom and gloom, but there is no magic bullet either. Can we do better than what we’ve done? Absolutely. However, the solutions will likely lie in realistic incremental steps forward and not one single big event.
As with business development, I do not think it is the role of government to pick winners and losers in the housing market. In our free market society, the “housing market” is determined by supply and demand. Supply and demand is directly related to the economy. Having been involved with both the real estate market and the rental market for 30 years, I have experienced housing booms and housing busts. Remember the economy after 2008? The rental marked tanked.
Many houses in Kremmling faced foreclosure. The market was saturated with homes for sale, lenders were frozen and development was stalled. Kremmling has always experienced boom-bust cycles, and not because of something our local board did or didn’t do; it’s the economy. However, what a local board can and should do is provide consistency. Subdivision regulations, mobile home park regulations, and all zoning regulations were developed, (and modified) by our citizens. The Trustees do not makeup zoning regulations. They can, however, offer a variance, which is the concern brought up by the Gazette reader who is afraid that a potential new housing developer will not be asked to provide curb, gutter and sidewalks. The granting of any variance is a lengthy process which involves recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Committee and many advertised public hearings. Citizen comment is needed for these hearings to be successful and truly reflect the goals of our community.
I urge all of Kremmling to participate in Public Hearings because, as I stated above, the Board – in fact, any board – is only as good as what the public demands. It is my belief that either we use existing Codes or we as a community recognize that they are outdated or don’t fit our needs. Then we as a community work to change them.
Do the curbs, sidewalks, and gutters save anything, for instance potholes, washouts, deep puddles, by directing run off? I would have to look into the overall cons and benefits. Otherwise, if they’re mostly for aesthetics then I don’t think necessary.
I don’t believe Kremmling needs all the concrete and sidewalks to nowhere. Leave that to the big cities which Kremmling is not.
I think I would need more facts on the subject of past and current curb, gutter and sidewalk ordinances before I could say what I would do. We can only get more housing if the developers are willing to follow what rules are in place for Kremmling. We also need apartments, after all, we are a bedroom community.
To make any decision on this, we need to see what has worked in other towns AND keep in place what works here already. Not everything works the same for every town. We need to do things that get us started in the right direction (remember I am only one of the team of six if elected.) Thank you.
I believe that every project is unique in its own way, just like we are. I don’t think that Kremmling wants to have a cookie cutter subdivision like you will find almost everywhere else. Every subdivision has an engineered drainage plan to mitigate water, if that plan requires curb and gutter then we should require it. I don’t believe that we have to have a curb in order for great “curb appeal”. If we were to require curb and our plows damage that curb who is responsible for replacing that curb?
I believe that if we as a town require the curb we are responsible for maintaining that curb. As you may or might not know concrete prices are extremely high. A long term plan is not a black and white line, it will adapt and change over time.
Our plan will twist and turn with the economy and the needs of the town NOT the needs of any developer. I would start the same way anyone would start, with a google search. A solution to any problem requires a conversation. That conversation should encompass the whole community.
As a new mom with a stroller, I can appreciate a nice sidewalk, and I think that there should be sidewalks in commercial areas. My home in town does not have a sidewalk in front of it. Not having a sidewalk gives me extra parking, and I don’t have to worry about making sure my sidewalk is clean when it snows. I ask myself, would I be willing to pay more for the same exact house just, so I could have a sidewalk in front of it, and my answer is no.
There is a housing shortage in this town, and we need to decide what is more important, having more housing while we need it, or driving up prices to the point where no one will build for the sake of a sidewalk. When a controversial topic arises, we should look at what other towns like Kremmling are doing, but we should also find out what the citizens of Kremmling want.
The best option for the town is to meet with the developer and work on what is the best for the Town and the developer. Not every case is straight forward or easy. Each has to be reviewed on a case by case situation. It is tough to compromise with someone new when others have already met proper zoning. It is a hard situation to know until you have all the facts.
Leo Pesch III
This and many other issue town is faced with, need to be handled through policies that the town of Kremmling already has. Each and every situation is different and need to be discussed using common sense as the backbone for decision making.
We need to listen to what the people of Kremmling want and bring it to the meetings for discussion. We cannot please everyone but being heard is important.
Peter L. Moschonas
First of all, I like sidewalks, curbs, gutters along with concrete drainage pans. To me, this goes with proper development planning, engineering and excavating for proper snow melt and rain drainage.
With wide streets for parking, it’s all part of the cost of building. But on the other hand, the Town of Kremmling does not have the tax revenue to maintain sidewalks, curb and gutters at this time. But there are different types of concrete drainage that could work for walkways, and drainage for both snow and rain.
But all that really matters is what do the people of Kremmling really want and like. All decisions that are made by the Town Council should be about the the future, and what’s best for Kremmling.
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I think that town codes are in place to prevent or address problems that have occurred over the years. Everyone wants the town to have a nice appearance. I also think that housing is a problem that can and should take care of itself.
If people need cheaper housing it’s going to have to be less expensive to build. There’s room for all kinds of housing, the market decides what is needed. The best way to see all sides of controversial issues in a small town is to just talk to people and do your research from there.
The town codes are currently set up to allow for Planned Unit Development (PUD). This means that each developer has to come in and present their plans to the town board. The town board will then evaluate the plan based on the developer’s particular needs and the town’s vision for the area to be developed. Hopefully, then a decision can be reached that is amiable to both the developer and the town board so the project may be built.
I believe new development needs wide paved roads with concrete drainages (along road edges, like Grand West subdivision) and concrete drainages crossing the road. This minimizes the cost to the developer, It also reduces the cost of replacement by the town in later years and allows for easier snow plowing and additional off-street parking.
I do research by looking for examples in other communities and discussing this with community members, staff, and engineers so that I can bring recommendations to the town board for their consideration.
The Grand Gazette will be introducing candidates for mayor and town council over the next few weeks. Ballots will be mailed before March 19 and this should give early voters a chance to get to know the candidates before then. Ballots need to be returned to the Town Hall in person or by mail by April 3. If you would like to see a question for all the candidates answered here, please email to [email protected]