Hundreds of homes are in the works for Glenwood Springs-area ranches |

Hundreds of homes are in the works for Glenwood Springs-area ranches

Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox The Bershenyi Ranch is a picturesque landmark along Four Mile Road south of Glenwood Springs.

Developers hope to build about 270 homes on two of the few remaining ranches near Glenwood Springs while protecting much of the land as open space.”We’re taking very, very careful steps,” said Richard Swanson, of Westminster Swanson Land Partners LLC, of Lake Forest, Ill.Those steps include consulting with leaders of a citizens group that helped defeat the Red Feather Ridge development proposal, just down Four Mile Road from where Swanson hopes to build.Swanson said Westminster Swanson has contracted to buy the Bershenyi and Martino ranches. The two properties total some 1,600 acres, with the Bershenyi ranch making up most of that.He said the purchases are subject to Garfield County approval for the housing development.Developers are looking at building high-end custom homes. But at the recommendation of some of those who opposed the Red Feather Ridge proposal, it is considering clustering the homes on smaller lots on the upper property.”We’re working with them to … come to more of a creative land plan,” Swanson said.The clustering could allow the lower meadow across Four Mile Road to be placed into a conservation easement, protecting it as open space. Swanson said the move could protect up to 80 percent of the property from development. It also could allow the preservation of barns and other historic agricultural structures.

Michael Larime, a leader of a citizens group that helped defeat a proposal for the 149-lot Red Feather Ridge subdivision in a 2003 election, said Swanson and his fellow developers have been “very solicitous” of community input.”They have been to this point quite responsive,” he said, citing the developers’ interest in protecting the lower meadow.”Basically they redid their whole plan to take that into account,” he said.Swanson said the clustered zoning could mean building homes on half-acre rather than two-acre lots.He said developers also have discussed creating public access to a trail in an upper meadow.Everything is open for discussion, Swanson said. At the recommendation of Larime and others, developers are planning to hold two public meetings to gather more input and discuss their plans (see accompanying box).Mark Bean, the county’s planning director, said county staff has discussed the plans for the ranches informally with developers. No application has been submitted with the county yet. Swanson said developers also have had discussions with Glenwood Springs officials. Annexation isn’t possible, he said, because the ranches aren’t contiguous to the city.

Still, “we recognize and respect that it affects both areas, Garfield County and Glenwood Springs,” he said.Bean noted that the county and city have an agreement that would let the city comment on a large development plan so close to its border. The goal is to work with the city, even though the city would have no planning authority over the proposal, he said.However, developers may have to turn to the city for water and sewer service.Swanson said developers are studying traffic, wetland and fiscal impacts.Voters rejected Red Feather Ridge partly over the prospect of it adding more traffic congestion to Four Mile Road. Larime said he thinks there will be concerns about the narrowness of the road in the area of the Bershenyi-Martino ranches, and about the safety of the intersection at the bottom of Four Mile Road.He said probably most residents in the Four Mile area would prefer building fewer homes on the ranches. But they can’t halt the development based on that issue, the way they were able to do so at Red Feather Ridge, where increased development density hinged on Glenwood Springs voters approving annexation.Overall, Larime said, the developers appear to be going out of their way to address concerns.”I guess I’ve been very happy with what they’ve done,” he said.

Swanson said he’s a licensed architect specializing in luxury residential design, and also is a land planner. He said he’s been a developer for a quarter-century, and most of his projects include open-space elements.”I’m very proud to say we have an excellent track record,” he said.Swanson has previously done work around Chicago, and in California. This is his first Colorado project.He said he became interested in the Glenwood ranchland when Chris Pates, of Eagle, who also is now working on the project, contacted him.”He was concerned about it being developed responsibly,” Swanson said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext.

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