Spring Valley Ranch wins initial OK | AspenTimes.com

Spring Valley Ranch wins initial OK

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Garfield County Planning Commission on Wednesday night unanimously approved a revised Spring Valley Ranch project that includes 577 housing units and two golf courses.

The nearly 6,000-acre project would be one of the largest developments in Garfield County history, and would be built southeast of Glenwood Springs. It goes next for a final decision by county commissioners.

Spring Valley Ranch once was proposed to have more than 2,000 residences. A planned unit development approval dates back to 2000 but the project has undergone several revisions since then. Spring Valley Holdings bought the property in 2005.

County planning staff initially had recommended denial of the project, but later recommended approval after further revisions that included reinserting 75 income-restricted housing units into the project and adding 24 employee housing rental units.

A project representative Wednesday night sought to put to rest concerns that developers might sell the development if they obtain approval for it.

“We really intend to go forward with a project at Spring Valley Ranch. We’re in the development business,” Tom Gray said.

“… This is not a paper subdivision that we’re trying to float here and flip to somebody else.”

Meanwhile, residents living near the proposed project reiterated long-standing concerns about issues such as road impacts and adequacy of water supply.

Michael Sullivan, who lives near the proposed project, said he’d love to see the project improve roads and wildlife habitat in the area.

But he added, “I have concerns that that’s not going to happen.”

Gray said the project would result in about $15 million in improvements to local and county infrastructure. Expansion of the Spring Valley Sanitation District already has occurred, and some other planned improvements include an $8 million reconstruction and widening of County Road 114, which also heads to Colorado Mountain College; a new fire station; and well over $1 million in upgrades at the intersection of 114 and Highway 82.

Gray said the revised project also would preserve a 700-acre meadow at Spring Valley, and keep it in agriculture.

“It was going to be dried up, basically, in the existing plan,” he said. “It is really what people think of when they talk about Spring Valley.”

The revised project proposes a nine-hole, par-3 course in place of one of two 18-hole courses previously approved for the property.

Sullivan worried about a projected worsening of traffic congestion at Highway 82 and County Road 114 because of the project.

“That intersection is treacherous. Downslope, have you ever been on that in the wintertime? Somebody is going to slide into 82, I guarantee it.”

Sullivan and his neighbor, Jim Austin, both worried about how much construction vehicles would back up traffic on County Road 114 before adequate improvements were made.

Said Austin, “Many people will be impacted by the heavy, slow construction traffic and I would like the applicants to do some basic traffic management improvements early in the project.”

Gray said developers would support improvements such as truck pullouts to address that concern.

Residents also worried about the danger of an increase in the number of people using the steep, narrow Red Canyon Road instead of County Road 114 to get to and from Highway 82.

“Red Canyon Road, people are going to die on that road,” Sullivan said.

In response to a question from residents, Gray said the project would be willing to open the golf courses to public use even though Spring Valley Ranch would be a private community. Developers also agreed to provide water without charging a tap fee to anyone whose private water supply dries up as a result of the development.