Homeowners protest Hunt Ranch plan
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Scores of worried homeowners turned out in force Wednesday night at a Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to protest plans to build up to 93 homes on the historic 561-acre Hunt Ranch in Missouri Heights.
They expressed concerns about the density of the project and the traffic it will create, and impacts to the area’s already taxed water resources.
Ranch spokesman Greg Amsden said the developers’ intent is to preserve the 250-acre irrigated hay meadow and continue the 150-head cattle operation, surrounded by houses.
“The main emphasis on the ranch is haying and wintering cattle and (it can) co-exist with residential uses,” he said.
Developer and Missouri Heights resident David Myler said the project would be out of character for the area because of the number of homes proposed.
Many of those who spoke out against the plan questioned how residents can exist amicably with cows and flies.
The subdivision plan presented by the developer Wednesday is in a very preliminary form and was unveiled for the commission and the public for comment only. The developer has one year to present a formal preliminary plan at which time public hearings will be held by both the planning commission and the county commissioners.
County planner Fred Jarman outlined a variety of concerns about the project including proposed individual sewage disposal systems and the six wells that would supply potable water to the homes. Those wells will need to be tested for adequacy by the state health department.
The state Division of Water Resources will also have to determine if water used for the subdivision will harm adjacent water rights.
In addition, in its master land use plan the county discourages individual sewer systems and encourages centralized systems, Jarman said.
Jarman also questioned the developer’s traffic study which estimates, at full build out, 890 car trips a day out of the subdivision. That amount of traffic would also contribute to an 18 percent increase in the number of cars going through the intersection of County Road 100 and Highway 82.
“Once (that number) hits 20 percent the developer is responsible for whatever upgrades and improvements CDOT (the Colorado Department of Transportation) feels are warranted at the intersection,” Jarman said. “Eighteen is very close to 20 percent. We need a lot more information.”
Land use consultant John McCarty of Otak Rock Creek Studio in Carbondale said the developers also made a concession to neighbors Kit and Mike Strang whose ranch abuts Hunt Ranch to the west.
Rather than plotting housing lots in that area, the developers agreed to keep it as agricultural land, McCarty said.
“We feel our project is compatible … with adjacent properties,” he said, including the Kings Row and Panorama Ranch subdivisions.
However, residents of those subdivisions strongly disagreed.
Many who commented said the overall density of the project, about 6 acres per house, should be reconsidered and increased to at least 10 acres per home.
“It’s not consistent with (neighboring) Ranch at Coulter Creek which is 15 to 20 acres per unit,” said attorney Jody Edwards, who represented the Missouri Heights Well Users Alliance. “If it was, you wouldn’t see as many people here tonight.”
Many of the planning and zoning commissioners concurred.
Although they were not taking formal action on the plan Wednesday, the majority of commissioners said the density was too high and should be downgraded.
“I’d really ask you to listen to what’s been said tonight,” said commissioner Bob Fullerton to the developers.
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