Pitco turns down Braun Ranch plan | AspenTimes.com

Pitco turns down Braun Ranch plan

Jeremy Heiman

Pitkin County has denied a California developer permission to build 15 luxury homes on the Braun Ranch in Woody Creek.

The development was proposed by the St. Clair Co., a Newport Beach, Calif. real estate development firm. County commissioners denied the proposal Wednesday on a 3-2 vote, citing the proposal’s failure to conform to county code in several ways.

The planned houses were to be 15,000 square feet each – the maximum allowed in the county – on parcels of about 35 acres each. In denying the application, commissioners followed the recommendation of county planning staff members.

The highly visible development drew opposition because a planned road would cross slopes of greater than 30 percent, the planned houses were not clustered to maximize remaining open space and the developer did not furnish figures on how much new traffic would be generated or commit to preserving historic structures.

But more importantly, while the developers hoped to be exempted from the county’s growth management quota system by providing four receiving sites for transferable development rights, the plan did not adequately meet the county’s standards for TDR receiver sites. TDRs are a mechanism for preserving the backcountry by purchasing development rights off a backcountry parcels for use in areas where the county deems development more appropriate.

Planner Suzanne Wolff said the plan is not compatible with master plans such as the Woody Creek Master Plan and is not consistent with the intent of the zoning or the character of the area.

The number of employees generated by a development is key consideration in the county’s growth management equation, and the Braun Ranch plans would draw a large number of employees, county officials predicted.

Commissioner Mick Ireland said Thursday that, based on studies by county planner Gabe Preston, the development would have added 60 to 90 employees to the local work force, exacerbating the employee housing shortage in the county. St. Clair proposed building only two employee units of up to 1,500 square feet each on the site.

“We’re not doing any more of this stuff until we get 100 percent [employee housing] mitigation,” Ireland said.

Commissioner Dorothea Farris said she voted to deny the project after balancing the backcountry land preserved by the TDRs against the impacts the development would cause to the roads, the school system and the neighborhood.


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