Spring Valley Ranch set for review
September 10, 2007
GLENWOOD SPRINGS What would be one of the largest developments in Garfield County’s history comes up for a public hearing Wednesday night.The Garfield County Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the latest incarnation of Spring Valley Ranch, which consists of nearly 6,000 acres.San Francisco-based Spring Valley Holdings, which bought the property for $25 million in 2005, is seeking approval of an amendment to the existing planned unit development southeast of Glenwood Springs. It wants to build 577 housing units, two golf courses, an equestrian center and 20,000 square feet of commercial space on the property.However, it hopes to build a nine-hole course in place of one of the two 18-hole courses originally planned for the property. The change would reduce water needs and impact on the property, developers say.County planning staff have recommended denial of the project, which they say could result in a development that’s home to 1,400 people, larger than Parachute’s population in 2004. In response to the staff’s concerns, developers have further revised their proposal, including by reinserting 75 affordable housing units and adding 24 employee housing rental units. They also reduced the proposed number of free-market homes from 502 to 478.Because of the subdivision’s distance from transportation and services, developers previously had proposed providing “significant financial contributions” to the county’s housing authority in lieu of providing the on-site affordable housing.Developers also have agreed to change the phasing plan for construction of the project so a fire station is built near the start.Spring Valley Ranch once was proposed to have more than 2,000 residences. A PUD approval dates back to 2000, but the project has undergone several iterations since then, which concerns county planning staff. A staff report voiced worry that a number of approvals and amendments have occurred “simply to ‘float’ the paper project along.”In a written response, developers said prior delays “resulted from prior owners’ bankruptcy and not from a nefarious scheme to ‘float’ along a paper subdivision.”They said they have every intent to develop the project, and the amendment application is being made for good reason.”It is for a project which is more attuned to current market demands while at the same time reducing the subdivision’s impacts on water, traffic and environmental disturbance relative to the existing approvals,” they wrote.The project has raised concerns about road impacts, adequacy of water supply, and possible effects on wildlife. In a recent letter to the county, one area resident, Jim Austin, worried that improvements to County Road 114, which also heads to Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley Campus, aren’t planned until later in the project.”This is wrong, dangerous and a disservice to … users of the Colorado Mountain College Road,” he wrote.Developers have agreed to contribute toward proposed improvements for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority park-and-ride lot at County Road 114 and Highway 82.The Colorado Division of Wildlife predicts that the project would have significant impacts on wildlife. The property provides elk calving range and 1,700 acres of winter forage for elk.Developers say they have retained existing wildlife and wildfire mitigation plans for the property.The county Planning Commission will meet Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the county commissioners room of the county administrative building, 108 Eighth St., Glenwood Springs.