County makes 31 deals for McBride property
October 23, 2014
Timing is everything for a trade between Pitkin County and the McBride family for a 635-acre property on East Sopris Creek Road.
The family agreed to trade its land near Emma to Pitkin County and the Open Space and Trails Department for 31 transferable development rights.
At the Pitkin County commissioners' regular meeting Wednesday, the McBrides requested a special review approval to sever the transferable development rights on land that is unimproved and where no development is planned.
The application timing was critical because of recent changes to the county's transferable development rights provisions.
Prior to Sept. 7, parcels containing fewer than 640 acres could receive a transferable development right for every 20 acres traded. As of Sept. 7, that calculation changed to one transferable development right for every 35 acres of traded land.
A transferable development rights program seeks to preserve landowners' asset value by moving the right to build a house from a location where development is prohibited to a location where development is encouraged.
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The land met the provisions set by the county to be eligible for the trade and will now go before County Attorney John Ely for a conservation-easement approval.
"That land will never be developed," said John McBride Sr., the owner of the property.
The 635 acres are already fenced and are used for cattle grazing. The county Open Space and Trails Department as well as the Emma caucus support the protection of the property to conserve the scenic, ecological and rural qualities of the Emma and Sopris Creek area.
"Timing is everything," Commissioner George Newman said. "This land should be protected from development. The East Sopris road is one of the few places left that really epitomizes rural character. I would support this."
Commissioner Rachel Richards agreed with Newman that the land deserves protection but added that the deal wasn't an alternative she would jump up and down about.
"Used at their maximum value, the 31 (transferable development rights) at 2,500 square feet each is shifting about 77,500 square feet of growth and development to other locations," she said. "It's getting harder to find appropriate other locations."
Richards said it's a significant and sufficient amount of revenue for the McBrides but that the deal meets county code.
A trail was proposed to be added by the county, but under the current code, no development can occur on the property when the conservation easement is added.
McBride said the decision to sell the property to the county started with a look to the future for his family as he prepares planning his estate for his family.
"We've seen the values go up stupidly because of the huge houses in the country and so forth," McBride said. "We could have gone up 30 times since we bought the ranch. If we're going to protect it and save it, we've got to have something."
McBride said the plan is to put the transferable development rights aside and save them for when they might be needed.
"What happens if they change the federal and state laws, inheritance taxes and all that stuff?" McBride said. "Right now, the state tax might be 30 to 40 percent of the value of the property. That also necessitates the sale."