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Cluster zoning approved

Garfield County hopes to reduce cookie-cutter residential development applications, and preserve hay fields.That’s the direction the county commissioners took Monday in dropping minimum residential lot sizes from two acres to one acre in some circumstances.County planner Randy Russell told the commissioners the new minimum lot sizes should discourage unimaginative “cookie cutter” residential developments, and encourage creative projects that preserve open space and agricultural uses. After attending the meeting, Silt developer Kelly Lyon said he is seriously considering using the new zoning to preserve a 20-acre hay field in a 55-acre housing project he’s planning for Peach Valley.”This could work,” Lyon said.Previously, Garfield County required two-acre minimum lot sizes in its agricultural/industrial, agricultural/rural/residential density, and resource/land zoning districts. With this zoning code amendment, called the “cluster option,” the commissioners dropped the minimum lot size to one acre. At the same time, it requires more of the property to be kept in open space or agriculture.Property owners still have the option of developing land in two-acre parcels. The incentive for using the cluster option comes because property owners can develop more lots if they preserve more open space. It works this way:-If a land owner preserves 25 percent or more of the property as open space, he is entitled to one additional lot, or one additional lot for every 16 or more developable lots, whichever is greater. This would increase density 6.5 percent compared to property that is not developed with the cluster option, Russell said.-If a land owner preserves 40 percent or more of the property as open space, he is entitled to one additional lot, or one additional lot for every 12 or more lots, whichever is greater. This would increase density 8.5 percent.Russell said if property owners choose the clustering option, they must build a central water system, and impose a conservation easement to manage the property.Property owners already had the option of developing one-acre or smaller sites as a planned unit development, but that approach is expensive and requires an extensive public review process.”This way, we don’t have to put property owners through these hoops,” Russell said.After the meeting, Russell said the developers he heard from before the meeting favored the zoning change. He didn’t hear from open space advocates.”This is for the Kelly Lyons of the world,” Russell said. “It’s for parcels 20 to 60 acres. We hope it helps maintain the flavor and rural character we have now.”Also Monday, commissioners:-Set a public hearing for April 8 or 15 to consider a revised special use permit for the Tepee Park logging operation south of Rifle.-Extended the Spring Valley PUD to November 2004.-Approved the preliminary plan for Filing 4 at Aspen Glen.-Approved the elimination of the lot line between lots five and six at Baby Been Subdivision outside Carbondale.-Extended an exemption plat extension to the Tamburello North Subdivision outside Rifle.-Approved the amended final plat of Tract B in the Mitchell Creek Project, and for lot 15, filing 1, in the same project.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.com


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