Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mountain Town News


Avon now requiring affordable housing

AVON, Colo.—Town officials in Avon, located at the foot of Beaver Creek, have adopted regulations that require affordable housing as part of all new residential and commercial projects. Increases in median housing costs, up 81 percent between 2000 and 2006, have far outpaced increases in median incomes, up only 17 percent, notes the Vail Daily.

Breck tries to dampen excesses of Gaper Day

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.—Business and government leaders in Breckenridge were taking steps to dampen too much enthusiasm for an end-of-season celebration called Gaper Day. The event has gotten out of hand in recent years, with snowballs and obscenities alike being thrown, usually accompanied by two-fisted drinking. Neither music nor free barbecues are being offered this year, reports the Summit Daily News.

Yet another way that you can die on slopes

DILLON, Colo.—There are many ways to die in skiing and snowboarding, with smacking into trees being the most common. A 28-year-old snowboarder from Indianapolis, however, died in a freakishly uncommon way. The woman, a pharmacist, fell on her buttocks, which created a "shockwave" up her spine and caused a stroke. She died seven days later in a Denver hospital. It was the seventh death on a ski slope in Summit County this year, and the 14th overall in Colorado.

Whistler looking at ways to save water

WHISTLER, B.C.—City officials are proposing restrictions on the types of refrigerators, air conditioners and ice-making machines that are used in Whistler. The primary intent is to reduce the amount of drinking water used for such purposes, an estimated 14 percent of the city's water supply.

Instead of water, the proposed law would require new such appliances to use air-based heating mechanisms. Those newer models are said to be both more efficient and, hence, cheaper to operate.

However, restaurateurs said they had not been consulted and were leery about the unintended consequences. The proposal was withdrawn pending greater consultation, reports Pique newsmagazine.

Growth debate turning noisy in Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo.—Jackson Hole is engaged in a noisy debate about population growth and development. Change the names and the numbers, and it's a story that could be about almost any mountain valley of the West.

Jackson, the city of 10,000 people, is contained on the north by public lands, and on the east and west by mountains. The logical place for the city to grow is southward, into ranch country called South Park.

There, basically as an extension of the city, two major projects already exist. Called Melody Ranch and Rafter J, they are almost entirely of low-density and somewhat ample homes, most of them occupied full time. In other words, this is home to Jackson's upper middle class.

But given the economics of land in Jackson Hole, the great growth areas are now more distant, to a place called the Starr Valley, about an hour away, or even across Teton Pass into Idaho, near the communities of Driggs and Victor.

Into this situation came a developer from Chicago who has proposed a mixture of fair-market and a healthy dose of deed-restricted affordable housing -- 500 housing units in all -- to appeal to the middle class, at least as it is defined by the economics of Jackson Hole.

Called Teton Meadows Ranch, the project would offer homes ranging in cost from $400,000 to$740,000. Houses would be smaller than 2,000 square feet, with the largest lots no more than a quarter-acre in size -- considerably smaller than is the norm in the area.

The Jackson Hole News&Guide has had spirited letters on the proposal for months. Most writers despise the continued urbanization of the bucolic neighborhood. "Let's have the courage to absolutely cap growth..." said one writer, Nancy Shea, who argues that the greater ethical obligation is to the "elk, the moose, the bear, and the mountain lion."

Another letter-writer, Yves R.H. Desgouttes, sees this and other arguments as phony. The moral obligation is to the working class needed to service those who have flocked to Jackson Hole in its new phase as a world center for recreation and leisure. "We should treat them well," he says.

Meanwhile, other development proposals have also descended onto the county officials, causing county officials to consider a moratorium until Teton County's master plan is revised.

Banff food composting proclaimed a success

BANFF, Alberta—The composting program in Banff is being proclaimed a success, with interest growing in the Bow River Valley.

In Banff, about half the trash is food waste. Of that food waste, nearly 70 percent can be composted. Not all restaurants are participating, but seven are, using dedicated bins that are then collected by the town's garbage crews, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

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