Sanders Ranch plan backwith 586 proposed homes |

Sanders Ranch plan backwith 586 proposed homes

Developer George Hanlon Jr. officially launched his second effort Tuesday to create a town where a 280-acre ranch is now located between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Hanlon, head of the Sopris Development Group, submitted an application to Garfield County yesterday for 586 residences and 300,000 square feet of retail and office space.

That’s 84 more homes than Hanlon sought through his first application, but less than half the commercial square footage.

Hanlon’s initial proposal to build 502 dwellings and 708,192 square feet of commercial space sparked vehement opposition from neighbors, citizens groups and government officials in Carbondale and Glenwood last year. County planners and the planning commission advised the county commissioners to reject the project.

Hanlon pulled the proposal before the commissioners ruled. When it was resurrected yesterday it was with a new name – Sanders Ranch rather than Cattle Creek Crossing. It’s different Jim Lochhead, the attorney and designated spokesman for the development firm, said it’s not only the name that’s new.

“The whole premise is different,” he said.

Hanlon’s team believes this revised version is significantly better because it responds to concerns voiced by valley residents. Planners studied the typical development occurring in the valley – and avoided much of what’s happening, Lochhead noted.

The two prevalent types of developments are large lots in rural areas and golf course communities, particularly in the valley floor. Sopris Development Group “scrapped” the idea of another golf course, in large part due to comments from people in “focus groups,” according to the application.

Lochhead said that while the new plan includes more housing than the first version, it proposes a more diverse mix – providing more opportunities for people who live and work in the lower valley.

Hanlon’s plan proposes 214 single-family homes and 372 multifamily units. Using U.S. Census Bureau figures for typical household size for this area, Sanders Ranch could be the future home of about 1,730 residents.

The application said 59 units would be dedicated as affordable housing under Garfield County guidelines. 40 percent open space Lochhead said the new plan uses clustering more effectively to preserve almost 40 percent of the ranch, or 109 of 280 acres, as open space.

The application indicates there is an agreement in principle to grant a conservation easement on 54 acres to the Roaring Fork Conservancy, a Basalt-based group that works on river and wetlands issues. Sensitive blue heron nesting areas along the Roaring Fork River have been identified for preservation.

Hanlon is also proposing a 36,000-square-foot ice rink and indoor athletic facility for the public as incentive for approval.

He also reduced the proposed commercial space by 58 percent and agreed to prohibit strip malls and “big box” retailers, according to a press release issued by Sopris Development Group.

`Infill’ or `sprawl’?

While Hanlon’s team touts alleged improvements over the last plan, critics are likely to revive many of their same complaints. The biggest complaint voiced before was that the project placed too much commercial space in an inappropriate area between two existing towns.

Sanders Ranch is located across from Cattle Creek, about 6 miles southeast or upvalley from the Wal-Mart stoplight in Glenwood Springs.

Hanlon’s application contends the Sanders Ranch project “represents a unique `in-fill’ opportunity.” “It makes a lot of sense to do this project at this location,” Lochhead said.

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