Garfield County OKs Spring Valley project | AspenTimes.com

Garfield County OKs Spring Valley project

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Spriings correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Garfield County commissioners approved the Spring Valley Ranch development, a 6,000-acre project with 577 housing units, during a special meeting Friday.

Commissioners made the decision after listening to hours of presentations from Spring Valley Ranch developers and consultants, and Garfield County planning director Fred Jarman, along with comment from neighbors and questions directed to developers. There was little, if any, public comment specifically opposed to the project.

Commissioner John Martin voted against the project’s planned unit development (PUD), while commissioners Larry McCown and Tresi Houpt voted for it. The project also includes 18- and 9-hole golf courses, an equestrian center, tennis courts and open space and trails. The development will be built southeast of Glenwood Springs.

“We are changing a lot of people’s lifestyles,” Martin said after the vote. “We are not preserving agriculture and our heritage. What we have done is create a new gated community.”

A second vote for the development’s “conditions of the preliminary plan” – which will allow Spring Valley Ranch developers to move forward with the project under a phasing plan approved by commissioners – was supported by all three commissioners. But the commissioners stipulated several conditions to that approval, including requiring developers to build 75 affordable housing units sooner than they planned, moving construction from phase seven to phase five.

Tom Gray, general manager for the Spring Valley Ranch, said he was “obviously pleased” after the commissioners’ vote.

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“We wanted to produce a better project than was previously approved,” Gray said. “We are quite pleased the Board (of Commissioners) agreed.”

An exact date for the beginning of construction was not clear, said Gray, citing the currently troubled housing market.

The development, one of the largest in Garfield County, has been before the county since the mid-1980s, when 2,700 units were originally proposed, Martin said.

Gray said 577 housing units and two golf courses had already been approved when Spring Valley Ranch Holdings acquired the property in 2005.

What commissioners considered Friday was the latest updated and revised plan for the development.

“We went back and looked, and said we can do a better job, and redesigned the project,” Gray said.

Changes to the development plan included reducing the amount of free market homes from 502 units to 478 units, and designating 75 units as affordable housing – with priority for working families in Garfield County – and making another 24 units employee housing.

Another change was the elimination of an 18-hole golf course and replacing it with a 9-hole, par 3 course. At least 100 rounds of golf will be available monthly to local residents, who will pay the same fee charged to development residents, Gray said.

During a presentation to commissioners, Gray said developers will make temporary improvements to County Road 114 to mitigate construction traffic and will repair damage caused by construction trucks. About $6 million will be spent on CR 114 improvements, including widening and reconstruction, while another $1 million will be spent on upgrading CR 115 to Landis Creek Road, according to developers.

Kelly Wood, a district wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said the plan presented on Friday was an improvement, but she voiced worries about hunting in the area. She was also concerned about the impact residents will have on local wildlife.

Neighbors at the meeting generally supported the development, saying it is much better than the one that had been previously approved, and that their concerns about water have been addressed.

Area resident Linda Helmich appreciated the efforts of the developers to include neighbors’ input as it developed Spring Valley Ranch, but added “if there was no development, that would be the first choice.”

Michael Sullivan, another area resident, echoed Helmich’s thoughts about developers’ efforts to include them in their drafting of the development plan.

“I thank developers for their communication efforts and compliment them on making water available to us,” said Sullivan of developers’ plans to assist neighbors if their wells face problems because of the development. “I know I feel better when I turn on my shower there will be water. This plan is a better one than the existing one.

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