Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mountain Town News


Aspen-area towns tack toward plastic-bag fee

BASALT, Colo. -- Town councils in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale will soon formally take up a proposal to enact a 10-cent to 20-cent "impact" fee on plastic bags.

By one estimate, the average American gets 400 plastic bags per year, most of them at grocery stores.

Some companies are trying to reduce use of plastic bags. Wal-Mart has set an internal goal of reducing plastic bags by one-third at its stores by 2013.

Whole Foods Market, which will open a store in Basalt next year, has taken an even stronger stand. The grocery chain, which specializes in organic foods, banned plastic bags in 2008 and has never looked back.

"There was very little push-back," a spokesman told The Aspen Times.

Whole Foods sells re-useable grocery bags for less than $1, but will provide paper bags that are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled content.

Mammoth mulls nixing development impact fees

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. -- The national debate about how to stimulate the economy is playing out in Mammoth Lakes, where town officials are considering whether to further cut fees assessed on new development to nudge the carpenters, masons and others back to work.

Four types of fees are on the table, reports The Sheet, and some have already been curtailed. The cuts parallel those in broader Mono County.

Condominiums that were selling for $1,000 a square foot just three or four years ago are now selling for $400 per square foot. And the construction price is $450 a square foot, a local real estate agent said.

But will slashing government fees alone put the construction industry back to work? At least one City Council member questions whether these are the right carrots to dangle.

"Are the fees the tipping point? Builders I have spoken with say yes, but I want a firmer handle (on the idea)," said Councilman Rick Wood.


Diffident real estate market in ski valleys

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. -- Real estate sales in Crested Butte have picked up in volume this summer, but it appears to be due to bottom feeding as buyers snapped up foreclosed properties. The Crested Butte News reports a median price of $280,000, compared to $340,000 last year.

In Eagle County, one-fifth of all sales have been bank sales, the Vail Daily reported. Measured simply by total dollar volume, the market has slipped from last year.

Buoyed by sale of a $16 million house and a $38 million hotel in Snowmass Village, Pitkin County had a strong June. The average sale price of $4.8 million is 10 percent ahead of last year. The number of foreclosures was just 8 percent of all sales, reports The Aspen Times.

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