Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Mountain Town News

Express Staff Writer

Jackson council talking taller buildings

JACKSON, Wyo.—Jackson's town government is talking about taller buildings in the community core once again—and how much is too much.

Current regulations allow 35 feet by right. Projects that deliver affordable housing and extra parking are given 48 feet. But the latter height has produced buildings that are bulkier than what municipal councilors want to see.

In response, the city is now looking at a proposed 42-foot limit as a use by right in the downtown area, reports the Jackson Hole News and Guide. The thinking is that a little bit taller buildings will result in more residential housing on the upper levels, and hence mixed-use, and walkable communities.

Councilor Mark Obringer said the change could net a "couple hundred housing units in downtown Jackson.

Councilor Bob Lenz, who has long opposed four-story buildings, said he believes the proposed 42 feet will result in living units with high ceilings—directly conflicting with Jackson's avowed goal of having a smaller carbon footprint.

"It is a hypocrisy saying we are going green and going to conserve energy and then create more large living units. It takes more heat to heat a 10-foot ceiling than an 8- or a 9-foot one."

Gap widening between housing and incomes

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo.—The gap between housing and income continues to widen in Summit County.

A new study finds that median priced homes, which in 1999 were 491 percent higher than the median income, are now at 851 percent, reports the Summit Daily News.

In other words, while median incomes rose from $64,000 to $78,000, median home prices rose from $317,500 to $670,300.

The survey also found that most in demand from locals are two-bedroom homes with a base price of $200,000. Also in that mountain-town dream are balconies/decks, two-car garages, and private yards. In fourth place on the wish list was energy efficiency.

Steamboat disagrees with report of lower population

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—For the sixth time in seven years, the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting a declining population in Steamboat Springs.

If the bureau's estimation is to be believed, Steamboat's population last year dipped to 9,315.

But school officials tell the Steamboat Pilot & Today that school enrollment is now up. Tom Leeson, the city's planning director, thinks the population is close to 11,000.

Park City asks residents to restrain use of water

PARK CITY, Utah—Municipal officials in Park City have asked residents to cut back on use of their outdoor watering.

"Maybe people haven't switched their thoughts to the bigger picture around us," said Mayor Dana Williams.

City officials say that daily water use is consuming 85 percent of capacity, with three-quarters of that use devoted to landscaping. Fire officials, reports The Park Record, are worried about the fire danger after a hot May and June elevated the risk of wildfires.

It's hot and dry in Breck, and fireworks are pinched

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo.—It's been hot and dry in Summit County. Temperatures in Breckenridge reached 84 degrees on July 1, tying a record set in 1935.

The Summit Daily News reports that the 1.4 inches of precipitation in Breckenridge during June made it the 16th driest June since record keeping began more than 100 years ago. The town is located at 9,600 feet in elevation.

It's back to bottled water at Basalt town meetings

BASALT, Colo.—Hewing to the national green thought that finds bottled water horribly indulgent, Basalt's town government two years ago stopped offering bottled water at town meetings. Instead, water and paper cups were set on tables.

But because the town hall has such a small water heater, it wasn't clear that the pitchers were getting sterilized in the dishwasher. The town has now switched back to plastic bottles of water, reports The Aspen Times.

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