MLTC Budget Slowed By Building Height Dithering

The fiscal year is drawing to a close for the Town of Mammoth Lakes, but instead of getting down to the details of the proposed 2009/10 budget at their June 17 meeting, the Town Council became wrapped up in height debates that have been going on for years. The only budget discussion came from the Citizens Budget Oversight Committee during a workshop before the regular meeting began.

Height and density were brought up by members of the community during three policy matter discussions: 1. community benefits and incentive zoning policies; 2. height and density policies, and 3. the North Village District Planning Study. Density was put on the backburner following the PAOT Committees presentation that the level of impacts, not the actual number of people is whats important when planning the future of the town.

The height issue really revolved around several homeowners, mostly from Viewpoint Condominiums, protesting the potential 80-foot and 120-foot height proposals in the designs for the Mammoth Crossing project. The project is set to go before the Planning Commission on June 24, but because Council was looking at adopting policies regarding appropriate height and density of development, the public came to state that low heights are what they are after.

You state that you want to be a village in the trees, but staff is not planning according to that concept, stated Andy Ott, a second homeowner from Viewpoint. You need to look at protecting both public and private views.

After hearing from other community members who had the same sentiment, Council carried over all three policy matters to future meetings. The community benefits and incentive zoning policies will be discussed after the local Community Stakeholders Group has a chance to review them, most likely at a meeting in July. Council comments will be added to the height and density policies and brought back for Council to review at a future meeting, and the North Village District Planning Study will be discussed at the Councils Special Meeting on June 24. The Study had to be carried over because the Town had failed to give an adequate two-week window for the public to review the plan before the June 17 meeting.

The Special Meeting on June 24, scheduled for 6 p.m. in Suite Z, is also the time when Council expects to jump into specific budget discussions and public hearings. It is at this time that they will consider, among other things, the Citizens Budget Oversight Committees recommendations. These recommendations include recognizing that the Town is going through a structural as well as a cyclical deficit; laying off more employees in preparation for future shortfalls to the budget; establishing an Undesignated Reserve for 2010-11 and 2011-12 to provide a transparent funding tool to refund depleted set-asides, transfers, reserves, etc.; creating an ad hoc committee to evaluate revenue sources, and restructuring Town government over the next 12 months.

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