Bair Chase rezoning: A done deal?
November 13, 2007
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Questions are arising about whether an April decision by Garfield County commissioners to rezone the former Bair Chase property to allow a dense housing development was the final word on the subject.
County commissioners are due Tuesday morning to decide whether to authorize chairman John Martin to sign the resolution authorizing the earlier action.
At issue is whether that might present an opportunity for opponents of the rezoning to get commissioners to reconsider.
Also, one of those opponents, Glenwood Springs attorney Calvin Lee, is questioning whether the public and neighbors received proper notification before the April action. If that didn’t occur, the rezoning is void.
The former Bair Chase property consists of 282 acres near the Cattle Creek turnoff between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
Sanders Ranch, a previous proposal for the property, had called for 500 homes, 700,000 square feet of commercial development and a golf course. More recently, as Bair Chase, it was to have been a golf course community consisting of 230 homes. The property ended up being bought by the lending bank in foreclosure before WestPac Investments LLC and Related Companies ” developers of Base Village in Snowmass Village ” teamed up to buy it for $18.5 million. They now are hoping to build 979 homes on the property, noting that the new zoning allows them to build even more.
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Said Lee, “I’d say 979 units is way out of character with the neighborhood.”
Commissioners voted in favor of the new zoning during an April meeting in which they also revoked the existing planned unit development for the property. The move drew little immediate attention, and Lee believes the problem is that people had a hard time knowing what was to be considered.
Lee said the legal notices provided to neighbors of the development and published in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent spelled out actions that commissioners might take because the PUD was lapsing, but didn’t indicate that they would change the underlying zoning.
Jim Lochhead, an attorney representing the new development, which is to be called Cattle Creek Crossing, views the matter differently. He said that in revoking the PUD, commissioners had to establish new zoning, “so it’s kind of part of the same action.”
“We had to do something about the zoning; that’s why it was taken care of at that hearing,” Commissioner Tresi Houpt said.
Lee said he raised the notification issue with Garfield County attorney’s office last week. Martin said he wasn’t aware of the concern, but it’s something the county could look at.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether Tuesday’s consideration of the rezoning resolution offers commissioners another chance to reconsider the rezoning itself.
Commissioner Tresi Houpt and county attorney Don DeFord both said it’s unclear whether commissioners have the ability to reconsider a previous vote when it comes time to authorize signing of the accompanying resolution. They said it’s not a question they’ve seen raised before.
DeFord said he’s always taken the position that the decision in such circumstances is made at the time of the zoning vote, and authorizing the resolution is simply an administrative action to confirm the previous action. But he said it’s a question he could look into further if commissioners want.
Martin and Houpt said commissioners agreed to the rezoning out of a desire to meet a dire need in Garfield County for more housing.