Carbondale rejects development project

Carbondale residents have overwhelmingly rejected the Village at Crystal River commercial and residential development.

Unofficial results of the referendum show 1,245 (65 percent) voting against the proposal and 667 (35 percent) in favor, the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office reported.

The proposal was to consist of about 125,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, along with office space and 164 attached residential units.

Supporters said it was needed to boost the town’s sales tax revenue and provide more retail diversity, and possibly attract a larger grocery store. Opponents said it would hurt downtown businesses and detract from Carbondale’s character as a community different from so many with big commercial developments.

Allyn Harvey, a leader of Locals for Smarter Growth, which led the opposition, said he was surprised by the size of the nearly 2-1 defeat of the measure.

“I think it reflects ... the sentiment of the community about trying to fit Carbondale into the same mold as so many other communities,” Harvey said.

In 2003, voters defeated a commercial development proposal that would have included a big-box store at the same location, off Colorado Highway 133 north of Main Street.

Frank McSwain Jr., a spokesman for Say Yes to Carbondale, a group supporting the project, said he also was surprised by the lopsided vote.

“I would say, though, I think a decisive outcome is really better for the community than for one side to have won by a slim margin. The community has spoken very clearly and I think that’s a good thing,” he said.

He said support for the project might have been hurt by a public improvement fee that would have been charged for purchases at the site. The fee would have raised money to pay for improvements to Highway 133.

“I think that was a very clear issue that a lot of folks had a hard time wrapping their minds around, especially in such a challenging economic climate,” McSwain said.

Said Harvey, “This is the second time that Carbondale’s rejected a mall-style development on Highway 133 and hopefully the owners of the property and the (town) trustees who have supported that type of development will rethink that position.”


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