Carbondale development gets enthusiastic nod from commissioners
September 10, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Using such phrases as “pretty impressed” and “the finest application I’ve seen,” the Garfield County Commissioners this week gave the preliminary nod for a proposal to build 89 homes on roughly 100 acres southeast of Carbondale.
The project, known as the TCI Lane Ranch, is being proposed by partnership headed up by long-time local entrepreneur Ace Lane, who also recently won conceptual approval from Eagle County for a project at the edge of Basalt.
As presented, the project is to be built on former pasture land between the existing Blue Lake neighborhood and the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork, along the Old Highway 82 frontage road east of Catherine Store. It is being designed according to guidelines that, according to the development team, would make it one of the most environmentally sensitive projects to be approved so far in the county.
Of the total site, some 70 acres would be open space, including a wide strip of pasture that would be retained along the frontage road, which is “meant to continue the rural, agriculture feel of the road,” according to TCI Lane’s land use planner, Jon Fredericks.
The homes are to be clustered in the central 30 acres of the site, and will include a total of 14 affordable housing units, a combination of duplexes and single-family homes. Although only nine of those are definitely slated to be managed by the Garfield County Housing Authority, the TCI planning team indicated that the five additional affordable units might end up under the GCHA’s management as well.
The majority of the presentation to the BOCC on Sept. 8, however, focused on the “green” aspects of the plan.
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The homes are all to sited for maximum solar orientation, and buyers of the lots will be encouraged to incorporate passive solar and other renewable technologies into the homes.
There is to be a solar array constructed in the middle of the neighborhood that is to provide power needed for the homes and ancillary facilities, such as a historic barn that is to be converted to a community center. The array is projected to generate approximately 300 kilowatts, which was said to be about twice the capacity of a solar array already in operation at Colorado Rocky Mountain School on the other side of Carbondale.
“We’re trying to be the first net-zero development in the United States,” said Fredericks, explaining that the solar array, along with energy-conservation building techniques, is expected to cut electricity consumption to 18 kilowatts per home, per day, compared to a reported national average consumption of 28 kilowatts per day, per home.
The partnership, according to Fredericks, last year planted 200 Ponderosa Pines on a strip of land along Old Highway 82, to help offset any carbon footprint the project might have.
And some portion of the pasture land along the frontage road, which has been leased by the Nieslanik ranching family, would still be used for that purpose, Fredericks said.
Access to the site would be at two points off Old Highway 82, and a bike path would be built between the old highway and a new cycling and pedestrian footbridge across the Roaring Fork River, to link up with the Rio Grande Trail on the south side of the river.
The bike trail and bridge, Fredericks said, would help keep students at the Waldorf School, and others, off the hazardous traffic lanes on the old highway.
Following the lengthy presentations by the county’s planning staff and the developers’ representatives, the two commissioners [commission chairman John Martin was absent] said in silence for a few moments before commissioner Mike Samson said quietly, “I’m pretty impressed … it’s one of the finest presentations I’ve seen come before us.”
Commissioner Tresi Houpt, concurring, added that “this is the finest application I’ve seen … I think you’ve raised the bar today. You have dealt with many environmental concerns that are critically important.”
The commissioners approved a change in the site’s zoning from agricultural/residential/rural density to a “planned unit development” designation, and approved the preliminary plan for the project, which will undergo further review in the coming months.