Telluride senior planner Phil Taylor walks the commission through architect Kristine Perpar's proposal to amend the existing Planned Unit Development for new homeowner (Screenshot by Skylar Schoemig/Telluride Daily Planet).

The Telluride Planning and Zoning Commission met Thursday to discuss a myriad of project proposals. Agenda items included reviewing a property owner’s proposal to amend the current Planned Unit Development (PUD), the commission’s proposal to limit service commercial uses within the town’s commercial core, and the commission’s proposal to increase the percentage of housing mitigation from 60 percent to 100 percent.

The meeting commenced with committee member Charles Dalton reappointed to the Vending Subcommittee for a second term. 

The committee then moved to a comprehensive analysis and discussion of a proposal submitted on July 6, requesting a second amendment to the existing PUD Amendment 1. A second amendment to the PUD would allow the current duplex, meaning there are two units, at 501 West Colorado Ave. be converted into a single-family home. The housing structure would include an affordable unit housing in the basement, with a minimum of 500 square feet, and one “off street” parking space for the occupant, senior planner Phil Taylor said. 

The Historic and Architectural Review Commission (HARC) recommended approval of the proposed PUD amendment at their July 21 meeting based on the following standards –– the amended PUD adheres to the policies of the Telluride Master Plan, which includes a goal to provide and maintain affordable housing within Telluride, and utilizes “site design techniques that enhance” the quality of open space, landscaping, circulation, parking, livability, building height and building relationship to the surrounding area, according to Taylor. The proposal does not include any “exterior renovations” that would “increase site area, ” he added.

P&Z members Dalton and Dan Enright voiced concerns about the two units, which total four bedrooms, that are currently housing long-term locals being turned into one bedroom.

“At the current time, there are four bedrooms in the two units of the primary structure that are being rented to, to my knowledge, all working locals,” Enright said. “In my mind, I don't see this meeting the criteria of the current community conditions. The housing crisis is very real and so even with an affordable housing unit, we are seeing the loss of three long-term rental units in our town and that is a serious concern in my mind.”

Taylor explained that the “existing duplexes have no requirement to be rented out” and the new property owner has no requirement to “continue that rental relationship.” 

He added that if town can acquire “one deed-restricted unit that is required to be rented out, we think that would be a benefit. If there is no existing deed restriction, the Town does not regulate who is living in the units,” Taylor said.

The new homeowner and meeting attendee Stuart Thomajan additionally asked the commission to allow the single-family home to be “rented out on a short-term basis,” Taylor said. This was approved by the commission, “subject to short-term regulations for the underlying Historic-Residential zone district,” Taylor said.

After commissioner Kathy Green raised concerns of the affordable housing unit being “100 percent in the floodplain,” an additional amendment was included “that the west window well will be expanded to provide a more generous second egress than would be provided otherwise,” as motioned by commissioner Stacy Lake. With a 4-1 vote of all present commissioners, the motion to approve PUD Amendment 2 passed. The proposal will now endure a final administrative review and approval by town staff.

The commission also revisited previous work session discussions focused on the “vitality of the commercial core in town,” in reference to “Service commercial use limits,” Taylor said. Service commercial use refers to businesses that provide services to consumers, including dentists, attorneys, architects and financial institutions. The commission’s draft proposal eliminates all service commercial uses on the ground floor of all commercial core areas of Telluride, unless they begin an average of 35 feet back from the front exterior wall, Taylor explained. According to the draft proposal, the proposition stands in conformance with the Telluride Master Plan as it diversifies the economic base to ensure local employment opportunities and promotes a “stronger capture of local and visitor” expenditures in the commercial core. 

“Many of our linear square feet on main street that are under construction and restoration right now were retail establishments and we don't have any guarantees that they're going to come back as retail,” Green said. “Some of them have already gone from retail to professional services.”

The revision would allow existing businesses to stay until they vacate the space, and then would allow them to only exist in the basement, in levels above the ground floor or an average of 35 feet back from the storefront.

At HARC’s Wednesday’s meeting, the proposal was unanimously recommended for denial, according to Taylor. HE added that HARC advanced that “more outreach is needed” and this is “not the correct path to increase vitality within the commercial core.” Two commercial building owners and meeting attendees –– Sally Courtney and Albert Roer –– also voiced concerns about not being included in the conversation.

After discussion, the commission unanimously voted to table the proposal until a future date, in the hopes of scheduling a work session with the Town Council to garner their input.

Last on the agenda, the commission revisited their draft amendment to the affordable housing requirements section of the Land Use Code (LUC), which was drafted after the commission’s June 29 meeting. If adopted, the amendment would increase the percentage of required affordable housing mitigation, delineated by the number of employees generated by residential developments, including single family, duplex, and multi-family homes, from 60 percent to 100 percent, according to town planning and building director Ron Quarles. 

Quarles offered an exemplar case study based on “current employee generation rates.” He explained that a 3,000-square-foot residential construction would require 206 square feet of affordable housing, and at $502 per square feet, a “full” mitigation payment would be $103,412.

“The amendment would increase the funds that are collected for affordable housing,” Quarles said. He added that the proposal would apply to “any permits that are issued after the approval by Town Council.”

“We're in a housing emergency,” Green said. “I've never agreed with the Town Council that we shouldn't have been at 100 percent two years ago, or five years ago, so I think we really need to move to 100 percent. From my first attending Planning and Zoning Commission meetings before I was on this board, in 1980, the town's philosophy even then was new development should pay its own way and we've been giving new development a break by only charging 40 to 60 percent. I think it's critical that new development pay its own way on affordable housing and this is a long overdue step in that direction.”

Lake added that “even a couple years ago I might have been more cautious, but we’re in a crisis and other communities are considering far more reaching and dramatic steps. I'm 100 percent on board with 100 percent.”

The commission unanimously voted to recommend approval to the Telluride town council to increase the percentage of affordable housing mitigation to 100 percent for residential developments.

In lieu of holding a work session on housing, all commissioners agreed to attend, or write a letter to, for Town Council’s July 27 work session, when short-term and long-term housing solutions will be discussed.