Carbondale relaxes rules to help Aspen Skico fill housing |

Carbondale relaxes rules to help Aspen Skico fill housing

Jeremy Heiman
Carbondale, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” The Carbondale Town Board has agreed to change the rules for 30 employee housing units in the new Keator Grove development ” a move that will help the Aspen Skiing Co. fill the residences.

The change in the deed restrictions on the units will allow them to become rental units, as needed.

The Skico has a contract to buy the 30 units, a mix of houses and townhomes. The company accepted deed restrictions that required the company to sell the units to their own employees. In addition, the buyers are required to live in the units and the appreciation on the homes is capped.

The restrictions also gave the Skico the right to buy back a unit if an employee moved on.

However, the company hasn’t found a first round of buyers, and has already been offering them on the free market to qualified buyers.

“We think that the site plan has worked out as good as or better than anticipated,” attorney David Myler, representing the partnership that developed Keator Grove, told the Town Board last week. “But the buyers just aren’t lining up.

“Circumstances cause us to ask for a little more flexibility,” he explained.

Jeff Hanle, director of public relations for the Aspen Skiing Co., said last week that the company still has many employees who would like to purchase homes. But the tightened lending situation and the economy have reduced the number of potential homebuyers within the company’s ranks.

“The two things go hand in hand,” Hanle said. “If things had been different with the economy, there’d be more demand.”

It’s not that the Skico housing problem has suddenly been solved, he said.

“We feel there’s still demand out there … I don’t think we’ve cracked that nut yet,” Hanle said. “I just think it’s a matter of timing.”

Myler told council members that the Skico and the developers were requesting the deed restrictions be broadened so the Skico can lease some of the houses to their employees, and also sell some of the units to other local employers, who could then rent them to their employees.

Priority would be given to employers located in Carbondale.

“I don’t see a downside to allowing school districts or local governments or businesses to buy these,” Myler said, adding that the entities should also be allowed to sell them to their employees later, as economic conditions permit.

Mayor Michael Hassig suggested that, if the rental option is accepted, the town revisit the exception in three years to see if there is still a need for the provision. His suggestion became part of the changes to the deed restrictions adopted by the board.

If the board rescinds the rental option in three years, the change would only apply to the dwellings the Skico is still renting and hasn’t sold, according to Carbondale housing planner Kay Philip.

Town Trustee Frosty Merriott asked how renters would be informed of town ordinances that limit occupancy, citing the parking problems and friction resulting from over-occupancy of some dwellings in Carbondale’s Latigo Loop neighborhood.

Myler noted the occupancy rule is spelled out in closing documents for the sale of houses, but there’s no guarantee buyers or renters will read those. He suggested instituting a program to make certain everyone concerned is aware of the occupancy limits.

Both the town and the Keator Grove Homeowners Association have regulations regarding occupancy, Philip said Friday, but the association will have the better perspective for detecting infractions.

“It’ll be a very intimate neighborhood,” Philip said, “so people will be paying attention, I’m sure.” She said the town will enforce its occupancy ordinance if necessary, too.

Town trustees unanimously approved the change to the deed restrictions, with the stipulation that the town ordinance limiting occupancy be attached to closing documents when each unit is sold.

The Skico’s Hanle said the company appreciates the opportunity for a different approach to housing at Keator Grove.

“The town’s been working with us, and we’re happy with that,” he said. With housing still very much in demand in the Roaring Fork Valley, an opportunity for housing shouldn’t be wasted, Hanle added.

“We hate to have them sit empty,” he said.

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