Change in scenery at Bair Chase |

Change in scenery at Bair Chase

Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox

Anyone driving by the Bair Chase Golf and Rod Club on Tuesday saw a radical change in the geography: Two longtime landmarks, a ranch house and red barn, are now a pile of rubble.The earthmovers are clearing the way for an 18-hole golf course, said Jim Wells, spokesman for Bair Chase Property Development Co. LLC, an Austin, Texas-based partnership. The barn and ranch house were removed to make way for the golf clubhouse, pro shop, practice green and driving range, he said.Back in the mid-1990s, when the project was called Sanders Ranch, developer George Hanlon told the Garfield County Commissioners the barn would not be torn down and would be used for community meetings. That plan did not carry over with Bair Chase, Wells said.A number of people called into the Post Independent Tuesday evening to report the new development.”I think it’s a tragedy,” said Martha Cochran, executive director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust, who lives in Glenwood Springs and commutes to Carbondale. “It as such a striking landmark, such a fine building. To just trash something like that seems not right.”Earthwork to install a 4,000-foot pipeline to carry the Glenwood Ditch through the property at Bair Chase began in early March. The line was rerouted to accommodate the golf course design.The Bair Chase property has gone through a circuitous evolution. Clyde Chase homesteaded the land and sold out to Elmer Bair in the 1940s, Wells said. Bair continued to ranch there for many years, then sold out to the Sanders family, who in turn sold the land to Union Oil. Union Oil bought the property during the early days of the oil shale boom in the 1970s for its water rights on the Roaring Fork River.Developers eyed the 280-acre ranch in the mid-1990s and filed for a planned unit development with Garfield County that that called for 500 houses and 700,000 square feet of commercial development. The plan was turned down by the county commissioners in the face of strong public outcry.The precursor to Bair Chase Property Development LLC purchased the land in 2000. The project was scaled back to a private golf course with 48 single-family lots, 48 multifamily residences, 14 lodging units and 120 affordable-housing units.Plans also include a 54-acre conservation easement along Cattle Creek and the Roaring Fork River, where it runs through the property, precluding development.No houses are planned for construction until next year, Wells said. Rees Jones will design the golf course, which should be playable in 2007, and Troon Golf will manage it.

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