Garfield County commissioners set Ascendigo site visit for May 18

Public hearing continued to June 21

The starting gun has been sounded on Garfield County’s marathon review of the Ascendigo Autism Services camp development plan in Missouri Heights, which is expected to run into late June.

County commissioners on Monday scheduled a site visit for 1 p.m. May 18 to get a first-hand look at the 126-acre spread situated south of Fender Lane and northeast of Carbondale, where Ascendigo hopes to build a summer camp and year-round activities center for the autistic children it serves.

It’s the first step in what’s already been a drawn-out lead-up to the formal limited impact review and land-use change permit to operate what’s classified as an “educational facility” on the site.

The public hearing was officially opened on Monday, but immediately continued to 1 p.m. June 21. At that time, county planning staff and the applicants are to make presentations, followed by public comment.

Commissioners also left June 22 open in case the hearing needs to be continued for deliberation and a decision.

The public is welcome to attend next week’s site visit, but no testimony will be given during the site visit and no comments will be taken, Commission Chairman John Martin said.

Commissioners may ask clarifying questions about the proposal, and the session will be recorded for the official record, he explained.

Also presented to the commissioners Monday were 229 exhibits, mostly letters and emails from the public and various entities commenting on the controversial proposal.

The county is also awaiting formal comments from two public agencies — Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Division of Water Resources — related to wildlife and water impacts from the development.

Ascendigo, a Carbondale-based nonprofit organization, proposes to convert what’s now three separate parcels of land zoned for rural-density residential uses into a 6,800-square-foot base facility, an 8,500-square-foot lodge, a 14,000-square-foot activity barn and equestrian center.

Many neighbors of the property, organized as “Keep Missouri Heights Rural,” are arguing that the proposed camp is incompatible and out of scale with the surrounding residential and horse properties. More than 500 people have now signed a petition opposing the project.

Chief among their concerns are increased traffic on the rural roads that serve the area, visual impacts and noise, as well as impacts to the local water supply and potential wildfire danger.

Ascendigo representatives, Chief Operating Officer Dan Richardson and land-use consultant Bob Schultz, said Monday that storey poles have been erected on the property to indicate building locations and height, and will be viewable at next week’s site visit.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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