Locals speak up about proposed land swap
Crave Community Co. is maintaining its open-door policy at its office located at 440 Eagle Street in Minturn. It also is continuning to update its website at cravecommunity.com. To speak with Cliff Thompson, of Crave Community Co., call 970-376-2562.
MINTURN — It was standing-room only in the council chambers Wednesday with concerned residents voicing their opinions and questions to the Town Council about the proposed Crave Community Co. land swap with the U.S. Forest Service.
Many Minturn residents offered up a stern “no,” asking the council to stop the process immediately and not send a letter to the Forest Service in support of a land swap.
“If Crave wants to help town, great. But this plan doesn’t,” Riley Babcock said.
“How does this save us?” Linda Osterberg asked.
Crave Community Co. came to the town in June with a proposal that was denied. The council wanted more information and details, and “to their credit, they did it,” said Earle Bidez, Minturn Town Council member.
Crave is trying to gain town support to send a letter to the Forest Service proposing a land swap of Battle Mountain for Meadow Mountain, including a few parcels of current Forest Service land bordering parts of town.
The proposed idea is to develop close to the existing town and in the Bolts Lake area, nearly tripling the current amount of homes in town. While many of the comments Wednesday focused on maintaining open space and keeping Minturn’s charm, Crave officials have said that they heard the public outcry and have no plans to develop Meadow Mountain.
“We’re on your side. We work for you,” said council member Johnie Rosenfeld. “But some of the anger is misplaced.”
Other concerns brought up by the 25 people who spoke Wednesday include increased traffic, which many residents already say is an issue in town, the small amount (30 percent) of affordable housing in the project as well as transparency with the development company.
“They’re doing their best,” Babcock said, despite wanting more information.
Crave has held open houses, sent out fliers, attended meetings and maintains an open-door policy at its office in downtown Minturn.
While some residents are concerned about Bolts Lake, the site is not contaminated and not part of the Superfund site.
Residents and council members recognize the need for affordable housing and a boost to local businesses that more people in town could provide.
“I don’t see why we can’t just give them a chance,” said Sage Pierson, owner of Sticky Fingers. “It’s hard to have a business here.”
The Town Council is looking into what is the best interest for the town in the future. Possible benefits include an improved economy with more people in town, more local housing, improved water rates and town infrastructure (that Crave would provide), a reservoir to help the town’s water supply as well as room for possibly more commercial businesses.
Town Planner Janet Hawkinson conducted a study that shows a decline in Minturn homes occupied by the owner, instead of second-home owners or renters.
In 2014, 37 percent of the 538 residential homes in Minturn were occupied by the owner. In 2010, 56 percent of residential homes were occupied by the owner.
“That struck me as significant,” said council member Earle Bidez.
While council member Jason Osborne attempted a motion to not send a letter toward the end of the meeting, which lasted until near midnight, it was not possible as the topic was a discussion item, not an action item.
The council has decided not to vote on the decision to send a letter to the Forest Service or not until the new council is appointed. The election is April 5.
There is a petition with 200 signatures asking the council not to send the letter.
“Just be mindful, we’ve got some serious concerns we need to address, Crave or no Crave,” Larry Stone said.
This is the beginning, said Lorne Bessel, of Crave Community Co. He added that the development company is committed to working with the town and building trust.
“Please don’t rely on rumors alone,” he said Wednesday.
“We’re committed to listen to the community and make changes to the plan to see if there’s something that can work,” said Tim McGuire, Colorado director of Crave Community Co. “We’re going back at this point and looking at everything.”
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.