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Spring Valley Ranch plan wins extension

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Garfield County commissioners on Monday approved a one-year extension for a preliminary plan for Spring Valley Ranch, a 577-housing-unit development southeast of Glenwood Springs.

The developers behind the project sought the extension, citing the current problems facing the American housing and lending markets.

Current county regulations say that preliminary plans are valid for only one year after the date commissioners approve them, with the possibility of just one one-year extension. Developers must file final plat information for parcels in a subdivision within that one-year time frame ” a move that clears the way for the building of residential units and other buildings spelled out in a preliminary plan.



Garfield County commissioners approved the preliminary plan for the Spring Valley Ranch subdivision on Dec. 7, 2007. This week, commissioners voted unanimously to grant developers another year to begin work on their preliminary plan for the project.

James Lochhead, an attorney representing Spring Valley Holdings, the company behind the development, said the market for the subdivision “has fallen through kind of a trap door.” Instead of “spending large sums of money” on initial infrastructure development for the project, developers wanted to wait to get a better understanding of “where the national market is going,” he said.



Current plans for the subdivision call for 577 housing units, 18- and 9-hole golf courses, an equestrian center, tennis courts and open space and trails. The development will also have 75 affordable housing units, according to the current plan for the project.

After the commissioners approved the project in December, management staff for Spring Valley Holdings declined to cite an exact date for the beginning of construction of the development, citing the “currently troubled housing market.”

Commissioner Tresi Houpt asked Lochhead what was the developers’ strategic plan for the subdivision because she didn’t want to “blindly” extend the time frame for the preliminary plan and have the developers come back next year seeking some other kind of extension.

“The ownership group did realize what the housing market was doing and wanted an early communication with you,” Lochhead told commissioners. “They are happy to come and talk about (where) it is and where it is going.”

The development, one of the largest in Garfield County, had been before the county since the late 1970s, when 2,700 units were originally proposed.

“This project has had a long history of approvals and extensions granted by (commissioners) with no development activity,” a county memo said about the Spring Valley request for an extension. “Three of these have occurred only within the last 5 years.”

County building and planning staffers wrote that requiring projects to begin shortly after they are approved is to make sure that they develop within the context “in which they were proposed so the information used to support the approval remains germane.”

But as time goes on, the context can change and the project may have additional impacts that were never contemplated or accounted for, such as water and traffic impacts.

pyates@postindependent.com


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