Win-win situation | AspenTimes.com

Win-win situation

Dear Editor

(This letter was originally addressed to the Pitkin County commissioners.)Tom and I would like to share with you the exciting future in store for our Four Bar Ranch, located at the base of Mt. Sopris, 6 miles from Carbondale.For more than 40 years, the Turnbull Family has been privileged to enjoy and care for our 2,300 acre ranch located at the base of Mt. Sopris. Good land stewardship has enabled wildlife to flourish and traditional ranch activities to dovetail into a unique ranch operation. The ranch was homesteaded in the 1800s by the Bane and St. John families, and the property has been managed as a livestock operation for 120 years.As you know, we have been actively involved with the Agricultural Committee for over six years, working diligently with the County, exploring ways to help the continuation of ranching operations in this valley. The goals of the Committee and the County are to seek opportunities for ranchers to preserve ranching, and address the difficulties of federal estate taxes, while providing an opportunity for the ranchers to sell land after years of wonderful stewardship. While the Agricultural Committee process is ongoing, no new Code provisions have yet been adopted.We decided the best solution for our family and the land was the existing simple growth management incentive to split the ranch into 500-acre tracts. Therefore, in January of this year, our 2,300 acre ranch was divided into five parcels. Four parcels of 500 acres each were conveyed to our children. One parcel was retained by Roz. We hired Gideon and Glenn to secure the land use approvals for our land, which we felt best preserved ranching and wildlife opportunities.In May, we received approvals for one 15,000 square foot single-family residence on each 500 acre tract, and 5,750 square feet plus TDRs on the 230-acre parcel. Twenty year extended vested property rights for our development plan were granted on September 11 of this year. The intent of our approvals was the preservation of the ranch, while preserving the economic value associated with a large home.During the land use process, we asked our friend, Bob Starodoj, if he knew of anyone who had a similar vision for our ranch, and who would be good stewards of the land. After 40 years of hard work, we find ourselves in our 60s knowing that it is time to pass the ranch on to the next generation, as the Banes, St. Johns, and Love families had done before us. Bob Starodoj approached Les and Abigail Wexner, whom he knew had an interest in a cattle and horse ranch. The Wexner Family, with four children, mirrored our family in size. They also share our values and vision for the modest size of development that should take place on the ranch. We feel fortunate that they will be acquiring the ranch.The Wexners are excited about the ranch, and it is a wonderful solution for our family. We get to see this beautiful land that we have worked so hard to protect and take care of continue as a working ranch. The ranch operation will be run by our son, Mat, who will take the ranch into the new century. Mat and his family, along with Les and Abigail Wexner, will be sharing the dream of raising horses and cattle on the upgraded Four Bar Ranch.So many of the things we wanted to do to improve the ranch, but were unable to, can now be accomplished. The irrigation system, ditches, and fences can be adequately maintained and upgraded. New fire, stock, and fishing ponds can be built. The fishing habitat on Prince Creek can be improved. The St. John Reservoir can be repaired. The historic Bane cabins can be restored. Housing for ranch hands and a ranch manager, and agricultural facilities to enable the ranch to move into the 21st century as a horse and cattle operation can be constructed. The free-market housing contemplated for the property will be complementary, as well as secondary in size and scale, to the agricultural buildings and ranch operation. The approvals that you granted that run with the land have found their way into the hands of the next generation of ownership. We are confident that the Wexners will continue the tradition of ranching and land stewardship that has been a part of the Bane Tracts for over one hundred years.While the existing ranch operation will be run by Mat and continue in the Turnbull Family tradition, the Pitkin County land use approvals and long-term vesting are an important key to make this long-term land use plan work. Development of the five tracts with large homes is not contemplated, and while the property has been split into five tracts, it will continue to be operated as one ranch. As we said at our land use hearing last week, we are confident that you will be pleased with the product of the land use process. We thank you for helping us with these land use approvals, thus creating a win-win situation for Pitkin County and for our family. The land can continue to be run as an active livestock operation for years to come.Roz and Tom Turnbull

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