New battle brewing over Cattle Creek project
A second battle appears to be shaping up over a major developmentproposed at Sanders Ranch, between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.A powerful citizens’ group called the Roaring Crystal Allianceis again at odds with developer George Hanlon over his CattleCreek Crossing project.Hanlon’s original plan failed to earn approval from Garfield Countylast year when RCA teamed with downvalley town governments inopposition.But Hanlon has hired new planners who have been working behindthe scenes since December with various “focus groups” to try tocome up with a more acceptable plan.That effort may have hit a glitch Tuesday when the preliminaryproposal was outlined for leaders of RCA.”They still have a vision of creating a new El Jebel at CattleCreek Road,” said Bob Schultz, a member of RCA’s board of directors.He was among seven RCA leaders who got a sneak peek at the plan.”What they’ve done is hired a lot of smooth apples to promotea sprawling and unacceptably flawed plan,” he said.Schultz said he will try to convince the membership of RCA tofight the project once again. “In two weeks we’ll have to gatherthe troops together,” he said.Planner touts improvementsHanlon’s initial application to Garfield County proposed 502 residencesand 708,192 square feet of commercial space. It was the commercialcomponent that particularly riled foes.Elected officials from Glenwood Springs and Carbondale arguedit made no sense to develop a big new commercial center in unincorporatedGarfield County that would drain revenues from the establishedtowns.Hanlon’s new plan contemplates roughly 500 residences, but reducesthe commercial space to 350,000 square feet. The commercial componentwould be a mixture of offices, retail shops, restaurants and upper-floorapartments.However, noted Hanlon’s land-use planner, Stan Clauson, “the projectis still in design and development. I hate to get too tied intonumbers because we’re still studying the site.”Clauson, the former planning director for the city of Aspen, saida formal application won’t be resubmitted to Garfield County forat least another six weeks.However, the new direction is vastly improved over the old plan,according to Clauson. The commercial component is not only reduced,but also designed as a traditional Main Street grid pattern, withproperty lots and blocks, rather than a strip mall, he said.The new plan will also do more to preserve a heron rookery andthe Roaring Fork River corridor on the property, according toClauson.About 10 percent of the residences will be affordable housingto make the project comply with Garfield County’s new policies.The affordable housing will be mixed throughout the residentialareas to avoid creation of an “employee housing ghetto,” saidClauson.New plan, same problemSchultz said the revised plan is an improvement, but still doesn’taddress all concerns.”We learned the owners of Sanders Ranch didn’t understand the`no commercial’ message,” Schultz said, referring to the firstfight.Although the commercial space was cut in half, it still represents”auto-oriented sprawl,” he said.Both sides are preparing for another hard-fought battle over theproject. Hanlon has not only switched planners, but assembleda highly respected team of consultants.Clauson brought aboard a Denver planning firm called Civitas,which is helping prepare the Aspen Area Community Plan and thecity of Aspen’s Burlingame affordable housing project.Water attorney and former Colorado Department of Natural Resourcesdirector Jim Lochhead is also lobbying on Hanlon’s behalf.RCA may counter by hiring someone to represent their position,rather than rely solely on efforts from volunteers who have otherprofessional responsibilities, according to Schultz.
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.