Foes hope to prevent ranch from turning into subdivision |

Foes hope to prevent ranch from turning into subdivision

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

A swarm of midvalley residents is trying to convince Garfield County to reject the conversion of a historic Missouri Heights cattle ranch into a high-end subdivision.About 40 people wrote letters to Garfield County in opposition of the Hunt Ranch application. A group that bought the 561-acre ranch northwest of El Jebel wants to convert it into 93 house lots.Most of the letter-writers are Missouri Heights residents who claim Hunt Ranch is too dense for their neck of the woods. Several letters expressed concerns about impacts on water, traffic and wildlife.”This type of development throughout Garfield County must be monitored or we will look just like Eagle County,” wrote Jo Ashton, who lives in a subdivision next to Hunt Ranch.

Like many letter writers, Ashton contended that the aquifer serving Missouri Heights is already taxed. A big project like Hunt Ranch could overwhelm the water supply, she wrote.”More homes with more lawns means less water for all with the diminished supply affecting all residents sooner,” her letter said. “Homes without water are all essentially [worth] the same: zero.”Some foes made a point of noting they aren’t opposed to Hunt Ranch simply because it’s next to them. They claimed the developers are seeking a density that is no longer appropriate for Missouri Heights after 20-plus years of intensive growth.”If I wanted to live in Denver where every square inch is developed, I would move back to that area,” wrote Karen Kean-Hines of Missouri Heights. She said 93 homes is “at least” three times too many.Denise Henderson wrote that Garfield County is approving projects that cater to the wrong people.

“How about looking after the people who have been in Garfield County working, paying taxes and voting instead of accommodating millionaires moving down from Aspen and second homeowners from out of state,” Henderson wrote.The application from the Hunt Ranch developers doesn’t indicate the sales prices for the homes. The investors propose to spread the lots over 215 acres and preserve about 250 acres of irrigated pasture in the center of the property.Hunt Ranch was homesteaded near the turn of the 20th century and has survived for more than a century as a cattle ranch. About 150 cattle still graze there through the winter and into spring.The Hunt Ranch plans goes before the Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for its first round of review. Its foes face an uphill battle, based on a report county planning staff issued for the meeting.

The report noted that the proposal for “medium density residential” use is appropriate for the area. In addition, the average density of one unit per six acres is compatible with the county master plan, the staff concluded.After a planning commission decision, the plan will advance to the county commissioners for review.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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