Telluride City Council will begin its Tuesday meeting with its appeal of the Voodoo Lounge affordable housing project, a decision that was approved by all seven members of council. The meeting starts at 9 a.m.
The project, which includes five separate applications, includes a proposal to build a 29-unit affordable housing complex at the corner of East Pacific Avenue and Willow Street on the site of the existing Voodoo Lounge skate park. While council appeals are not uncommon, this one is unique in that the owner of the lots in question is the Town of Telluride. CCY Architects is the applicant.
The proposal, which was pending before the Historic and Architectural Review Board (HARC), was the subject of concern from members of that board acting in their official capacity, but also from a host of nearby residents and other members of the public. Issues such as mass and scale, parking, congestion and historical relevance have been noted in a series of HARC reviews since the initial application was filed earlier this year. In its final action at its March 16 meeting, the HARC recommended 14 conditions — mostly dealing with the mass and scale of the proposed design — while voting 4 to 1 to proceed with the bid. The city council signaled its intention to call the application on March 25.
“We intend to serve as the interim HARC Board of Directors for the preliminary and final review of all alterations, demolitions, new construction and architectural designs for the project,” reads the board’s letter. .
The Council has four possible actions it can take when considering the application on Tuesday. They can approve the request with or without conditions, proceed with the request with conditions, refer the request to HARC with comments or directions, or deny the request. The council, in its capacity as the HARC’s interim board, will consider alterations to the Marshal’s Department building, demolition of an unlisted shed on the land, minor alterations to another listed shed on the property, the demolition of the voodoo parlor building and the preliminary large-scale new construction in the commercial area district.
The announcement of the summons caused concern among most HARC board members, including HARC President Mark Shambaugh, Sheri Harvey, Kiernon Lannon, Alternate Mark Hebert and Stacy Lake. (Matt Lee’s name does not appear on the letter.) In the letter to council, they expressed concern that the city’s review of a city-owned project would set a “dangerous precedent.”
“We believe this appeal could set a dangerous precedent that if the city can build at this mass and scale and circumvent board review even during the preliminary stages of review, without letting due process sue, private developers will claim that same right even if there are gross violations of the design guidelines. Their arguments for consistency with board decisions could seriously damage the HARC process,” the letter states in part.
(The full letter is published in this edition of the Daily Planet, starting on page 3).
Shambaugh, from the start of the Voodoo Lounge process, has emphasized teamwork as the project progresses through many levels of review. Given the significant public benefit of the project – that of affordable housing – and the scale of the design, Shambaugh and HARC emphasized their role in balancing this public benefit with their responsibility to maintain the historic character of the city.
“Major projects like this and historic preservation can go hand in hand and we should approach this on a teamwork-type basis,” he said at the February 2 HARC meeting.
In the letter to the board, Shambaugh and his colleagues asked that the project be referred to HARC, with or without board recommendations, or be included in Tuesday’s review as equal partners.
“We would expect HARC’s participation to not be limited to anything akin to the established public consultation process, with every member having the right and ability to speak at the meeting. We already have that right. We envision this process going much like a joint meeting of HARC and P&Z where HARC’s role would be to provide a recommendation to City Council, but not to vote on the application. City Council would have the benefit of hearing our deliberations and have the opportunity in real time to ask questions about our thoughts and concerns. We believe this approach would demonstrate to the community the best of municipal government cooperation and respect for process. We have never received 70 public letters of opposition to a project before and allowing some sort of due process in this way might help allay their concerns.
Otherwise, the letter continues, the council could see a massive resignation of most of what is arguably – along with the planning and zoning council – one of the most important bodies in the city in terms of the development process. .
“If the city would prefer not to grant either of these two requests, it would lead the following members of the HARC board of directors, on the basis of these particular circumstances and conditions, to believe that we do not have no choice but to seriously consider submitting our respective resignations. as members of HARC, as we would view our role within the governance of the city as broken and non-functional.
To view the meeting folder, visit telluride-co.govclick Government, then Agendas and meeting records.