Four homes OK’d for Woody Creek ranch |

Four homes OK’d for Woody Creek ranch

Pitkin County commissioners, in a marathon meeting Wednesday, gave final approval to the construction of four large houses on the former Natal ranch in Woody Creek.

The development plan calls for the construction of one house of 15,000 square feet and three of up to 7,500 square feet, plus two caretaker units on the 245-acre property. It will preserve the original ranch house, constructed in 1950, and will preserve an estimated 95 percent of the agricultural land on the property, located 3.5 miles up Woody Creek Road.

The development has what is perhaps the most desirable endorsement a project in that neighborhood can get – a letter of support from the Woody Creek Caucus. No one appeared at the commissioners’ meeting to oppose the project.

Representatives of the applicant promised that agricultural uses will continue to some degree.

The property is zoned to allow subdivision for as many as 12 to 14 houses. The lot sizes are 71, 79, 54 and 40 acres. State law allows development of lots of 35 acres or more without a subdivision approval from county government.

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The commissioners approved a change to the wording of the approval that will allow the developers up to five years to get permits, build, and sell the planned houses before they will be subject to any changes in county land-use law. After developers receive development approvals from the county, their “vested rights” to build under the existing land-use code at the time of the approval normally last for three years.

Land-use planner Sunny Vann, representing the applicant, objected to the three-year vesting period, saying the county’s ordinances don’t make it clear what rights are reserved for a developer after the vesting period expires. “Am I supposed to take the approval and trust you?” he asked.

Real estate agent Perry Harvey, also representing the developers, said it’s unrealistic to expect all the steps in developing the property to take place in three years.

The ranch was listed for $6.8 million when it sold in 1997. The property owners are listed as Flying Elk Ranch, Inc. and Wading Trout Ranch, Inc.

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