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Housing Roundup: The Fields is out (for now), Habitat holds a summit at Aspen Meadows, and the RFSD School Board answers questions about possible loan

A rendering of The Fields in application materials submitted to Eagle County. The developer withdrew his application on Tuesday in the face of certain defeat at the hands of Eagle County Commissioners. Keep Missouri Heights Rural, a local anti-development activist group, celebrated the decision.
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A rendering of The Fields in application materials submitted to Eagle County. The developer withdrew his application on Tuesday in the face of certain defeat at the hands of Eagle County Commissioners. Keep Missouri Heights Rural, a local anti-development activist group, celebrated the decision.

All three Eagle County Commissioners planned to vote no on The Fields development. That led to developer Evan Schreiber asking for an extension, and then withdrawing his application when commissioners declined to give one.

The Fields would have added 135 homes to a 20 acre parcel across Highway 82 from Blue Lake. But the density required a zoning change, which commissioners said was warranted and consistent with the surrounding neighborhoods.

In the face of stiff opposition from community members, however, commissioners said the development lacked a clear public benefit: not enough affordable housing, too much uncertainty on construction of a trail to Crown Mountain Park, and a lack of clarity on traffic impacts to local roads.

Lightbox Development can now go back to the drawing board and present a new application to the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission, or build nine large homes with almost no affordable housing component under existing zoning.

On Wednesday, Habitat for Humanity held its inaugural forum on the housing crisis at Aspen Meadows Resort. The event, with the unwieldy title Solving the Housing Crisis: A Regional Summit on Equitable Solutions, featured recorded opening remarks from Gov. Jared Polis, and panel discussions throughout the day.

The Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education held a hastily assembled meeting in Carbondale from 6 to 7 Wednesday night to address the flood of criticism received after the public learned of a proposal to offer a $500,000 interest free loan to the superintendent for the purpose of purchasing housing. Board members seemed somewhat defensive and in damage-control mode, but assured the community that they’re mostly learning on the fly and focused on learning, becoming more transparent and responsive to the community, and retaining staff—And also keeping the school district competitive when it comes to the superintendent’s position:

"The main goal is to make this as competitive as possible in a hot market of superintendents"—RFSD Board President Kathryn Kuhlenberg

"You know some of the research that we came upon, and I'm sure you guys feel this, is post-Covid, it's been called the Great Resignation of Superintendents. One in four superintendents retired in the year after Covid. And so we're recognizing that we need to be able to attract quality leaders, and we don't want to be in a position where we're turning over leaders year over year because housing is an issue," she continued.

In its presentation, the board also pointed out that the superintendent’s salary here is only 5 percent higher than that of superintendents in the state's other districts of between 3,000 and 9,000 students, while the district is the second-most expensive to live in, with a cost of living 40 percent higher than the state average, and housing 150 percent higher than the rest of the state.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s per-pupil spending ranks next to last in the nation. 

Board members say their next step is to listen to community feedback, consider options, have have further discussion followed by a vote at their next meeting on April 12.

For KDNK news, I’m Morgan Neely.

Morgan is KDNK's News Director. He comes to KDNK with public radio passion and experience. He was a news host, reporter, and operations/programming director at KAJX-Aspen, and has extensive experience working in municipal government.