Bair Chase rezoning raises questions
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GARFIELD COUNTY ” Some people are questioning the Garfield County commissioners’ decision to rezone the controversial Bair Chase ranch for high-density housing. But county planner Fred Jarman defended the move, saying it makes the land conform to the county’s comprehensive land use plan.
Last week, the commissioners terminated the planned unit development and imposed new zoning, which opens the door to a new development plan.
The land, located about halfway between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale on Highway 82, has seen a series of ambitious plans for development. In 2001, when it was known as Sanders Ranch, the plan called for 700,000 square feet of commercial development and 500 homes built around an 18-hole golf course. That density was whittled down as the land changed hands.
As Bair Chase, the subdivision was approved for 168 multifamily dwellings and 62 single-family homes.
The latest owners, WestPac and The Related Cos., which are developing Base Village at the foot of the Snowmass ski area, bought the property from PlainsCapital Bank of Austin, Texas, which had taken the ranch back at a foreclosure sale last spring.
While WestPac has not submitted a plan for the property yet, Jarman said he expects to see something close to what was last approved for Bair Chase. “I suspect we’ll see 150 units, if not more,” he said.
The new high density zoning precludes a commercial component for the site. “That was why the original Sanders Ranch PUD failed,” he said, “because the [underlying zoning] didn’t allow commercial.”
Martha Cochran, director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust, said she wouldn’t be pleased to see higher density on the land.
“Do we want to create a town” between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, she said. “It sounds like we’re moving to that density.”
She also hopes the county will take into consideration that the ranch “is the last opportunity for the county to create open space in the Roaring Fork Valley,” which has been home to a sizable herd of elk, and nesting herons and osprey. “They could put houses on a third of that land and preserve a large portion of open space.”
Also concerned about the potential density of housing is Terry Claassen, a local developer who lives just across the Roaring Fork River from the property. Claassen has proposed a hotel and condominium project, Roaring Fork Lodge, at Midland and 27th Street in Glenwood Springs, that would include 30,000 square feet of commercial space, with a conference center, a spa, restaurant and fitness center.
He also pointed to the wildlife that now use the property and the need to avoid “suburban sprawl.”
“Realistic density would be 220 multifamily and single family [units] and a lot size of minimum half an acre,” he said. “I’m surprised that after all the [public] hearings to get the density people are comfortable with, they’d increase it by two times. It seems like a strange decision.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The city of Aspen and Pitkin County are partnering to buy a 274-acre tract of land off McLain Flats for $10 million on property owned by longtime residents Carolyn and Tom Moore.