For decades the leaders of San Miguel county have been discussing the need for a new and larger medical facility on the east end of the county. The current medical center in the town of Telluride has simply been bursting at the seems with not enough space to service our ever growing community. To the credit of the current medical center board, a vacant parcel adjacent/west of the spur at hwy 145 was identified as the best regional solution after attempts in the town of Telluride and Mountain Village have failed in the last 5-10 years. This parcel, owned by the Genesee group, will offer a wide variety of mixed- use, from the medical center, local housing, commercial space and possibly an affordable hotel.
This is great news for our resort community and a long time coming. Here’s a great article from the Daily Planet with more specifics on the current approval process with county commissioners:
Commissioners move Society Turn project to next step
Board adds conditions to approval, CPC review next
Proposed planning areas within the Society Turn development project are indicated. The applicant proposed additional density in planning areas 2 and 5 specifically for more employee housing. (Courtesy image)
The San Miguel Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously approved the preliminary sketch plan for the Society Turn project proposal, which is located on approximately 20 acres just east of the Society Turn roundabout. The approval included 10 conditions, conditions that aim to, among other considerations, maximize employee housing, have the development include electric vehicle charging stations, provide for water catchment and other water preservation measures, and include an onsite renewable energy source to offset energy use there. The board also approved the creation of a new zone district, the Mixed Use Development (MXD) zone district, which could become part of the county’s Land Use Code.
Wednesday’s meeting was a continuation of last week’s hearing, one that set in motion the second of five steps in a review process that is shared by the BOCC and the County Planning Commission (CPC). Following Wednesday’s BOCC conditional approval, the CPC will review and make recommendations on the preliminary PUD and subdivision plan, a step that also includes CPC review and recommendation for a rezoning of the Society Turn Parcel into the mixed-use development zone and an additional review and recommendation on other land use matters, including scenic foreground review, 1041 environmental hazard review and reviews of floodplain hazards and wetland, and wetland buffer impacts. Again, those recommendations will return to the county commissioners for that board to take action. The process will conclude with final board action. Those meetings have yet to be scheduled.
The property owner, Genesee Properties, represented by local attorney Tom Kennedy, is seeking to develop a planned unit development not dissimilar — though denser — to the Lawson Hill PUD, by proposing a mix of commercial and residential on the site. Included in the proposal is the dedication of land for a new medical facility, an offer that has garnered widespread support. Genesee is also proposing a dedication of land for expansion of the Telluride Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Following lengthy discussion, the commissioners added more conditions to the seven already outlined in county planning director Kaye Simonson’s memo to the board. Those include a provision for water catchment and other water saving methods, an onsite renewable energy source to offset energy usage, and that the applicant agree to participate in a “potential wildlife crossing through an equitable contribution to be determined in the future,” as requested by commissioner Hilary Cooper.
Genesee’s plan for a value-priced, family hotel remained on the table despite a CPC condition it be eliminated altogether as a way to mitigate traffic impacts. The applicant returned, instead with a plan for reducing the number of rooms from 150 to 125, citing the need for the development to be economically viable.
“We would hope it as a practical matter, that you would be supportive of the project with the land uses that we’re talking about … the land for the public uses, and the private uses,” Kennedy said last week. “We recognize that there’s always some other private use that you would like to see occur. But the plan is important to us, and it’s a balanced plan, and it’s holistic planning and we think it’s an economically viable plan.”
A hotel aimed at budget-minded travelers and visitors, and the hospital land dedication have received robust support from members of the public, but at Wednesday’s meeting there were pointed comments in opposition, no matter the offerings. Pamela Lifton-Zoline said despite the urgent need for an expanded medical facility to serve the region, the Society Turn parcel is not the place for it.
“I believe that the community is about to enter into a really bad bargain because however much we need the clinic, I think that the developer is demanding far too much for us to get that benefit,” she said. “I think that our community is largely unaware of the scale of the development that is being proposed. I know we’ve had communications and meetings but it’s all been under the umbrella of the pandemic years, and I am worried that we’re steaming towards a big, big problem. I think that the development is too large. I think that the mix is wrong. I don’t think we need another hotel. I think that all we’re going to do is generate way more people and way more need for services.”
Employee housing mitigation loomed as pressing need for the region. Genesee came back after last week’s meeting and following further discussions with Simonson, addressed the issue by adding a fourth floor to buildings in planning areas 2 and 5, specifically for employee housing. The scheme creates additional units that will exceed the required mitigation.
“After the hearing last week we’ve reached out and chatted with Kay about some of the topics including the employee housing,” Kennedy said. “We continue to understand the desire for that. And that’s why we thought we would go back and put in the opportunity for the fourth floor. Finding a place for the housing was, was always a little bit of a challenge but going up was one of the options. And so we’ve put it back in. We’re happy to be able to try to accommodate some more housing through that mechanism. We think it’s a good location and a good opportunity to try to get a little bit more housing in.”
Cooper thanked the project team for being responsive to concerns regarding affordable housing mitigation.
“I think you all know, just as well as we do, that affordable housing is a challenge and we need to get as much mitigation as possible to be responsible to the citizens of the future here,” Cooper said. “One way to get affordable housing that we have not been very good about in this region is increasing density because nobody really likes those words, but I think that’s the reality that we face now. We need to start having discussions about the need to increase density as we try to accommodate as much mitigation as possible. So I think this is a creative approach.”
Genesee is pleased to be able to move forward Kennedy said Thursday, noting that the dedication of land for a medical facility, expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, and another three acres to the county and school district was a community benefit.
“We think we have a good, fair and balanced plan and we’re glad the commissioners responded favorably,” he said. “That the plan meets and exceeds housing mitigation is a very positive thing. We’re happy with where we’re at.”
View the complete plan at societyturn.info.