Caucus says no to Braun Ranch plan |

Caucus says no to Braun Ranch plan

Jeremy Heiman

The Woody Creek Caucus Wednesday turned its thumbs down on a proposal to build 16 luxury houses in its neighborhood.

Caucus members attacked a development plan for the Braun Ranch on various fronts. Their concerns included potential road impacts, lack of employee housing, the huge size of the proposed homes, the prospect that the houses would probably be second homes, impact on open space and the environment, and the lack of a long-term master plan for the property.

St. Clair Co., a Newport Beach, Calif. real estate development firm, has proposed 16 homes of up to 15,000 square feet each on lots of about 35 acres each.

Jim Collins, Woody Creek Planning Commission chairman, said the houses are too big to be compatible with the Woody Creek community.

“Ultimately, my concern personally is not the number of homes, it’s the size of the homes,” he said. “We don’t want to become a second-home community.”

Caucus member Barbara Ornitz noted the proposal doesn’t preclude a request for further development at the nearly 1,000-acre ranch at some later point.

“We need to ask what this community is going to look like in 20 years,” Ornitz said. The St. Clair application isn’t for the whole property, she said, and neighbors need to know what’s going to happen to the rest of the ranch. Other caucus members agreed a master plan should exist for the entire property.

Collins also noted that the county estimated the development would generate 300 vehicle trips per day, and that amount alone, without any other development, would put the neighborhood’s roads over their theoretical capacity.

Caucus members voted unanimously to recommend that Pitkin County deny the application. The group also voted to require future applications to include long-term master plans for development.

Besides the large houses, the St. Clair project would also include 16 caretaker units and two affordable housing dwellings. The homeowners could not be required to rent the caretaker units to local employees.

The developer’s proposal indicates the bulk of the ranch would be left as open space, and calls for most of the land in the Woody Creek valley floor to be kept as either open space or active ranching land.

The ranch, located on two benches above the intersection of Lower River and Woody Creek roads, was recently purchased from Bill and Gail Braun. The Brauns had purchased the ranch from the Vagneur family in 1987.

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