County balks at letting developer off the hook for Cattle Creek work
Garfield County commissioners are not inclined to let developers of the River Edge project off the hook for improvements to the Cattle Creek intersection until they can deal with Highway 82 access into the approved 366-home subdivision.
And based on a preliminary assessment of the latest plan to create yet another access point on an already busy and dangerous stretch of highway, that’s anything but a done deal.
“We approved this development with the idea that we were going to get a signalized intersection at Cattle Creek,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said. That was one of the conditions when commissioners approved the River Edge project in 2011.
“Now we’re looking at another intersection,” Jankovsky said. “I don’t know if I can support that.”
The plan at the time River Edge was approved called for the developer, Carbondale Investments LLC, to financially help the county with more than $2 million in improvements at Cattle Creek, where the main entrance into the new development was to be located.
But after complications arose with getting approvals from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to build an at-grade crossing of the Rio Grande Trail and rail corridor, the developer obtained a permit to move the entrance about a half mile north, away from the Cattle Creek area.
Because the trail is farther from the highway at that location, it would be easier to engineer an underpass crossing, according to the developers.
The new access plan is still subject to county approval of a development plan amendment, which has yet to go before either the county planning commission or the county commissioners.
Representatives of the developer asked commissioners Monday that the cost-share agreement with the county for the Cattle Creek improvements be terminated.
In its place were to be new terms related to water system infrastructure and other improvements that will need to be coordinated with the county’s plans to redesign the east side of the intersection.
Commissioners denied the request, preferring to wait until they can review the request to change the development plan. The developers also remain obligated to pay the county about $68,000 for engineering costs to date related to the Cattle Creek work.
“We had a deal, and the [intersection improvements] came as part of the package,” Commissioner Mike Samson said. “As far as I’m concerned, you are going to pay the bills that are due.’
Commission Chairman John Martin, who was the lone commissioner opposed to the River Edge development in the first place, said he shared the concerns of his fellow commissioners.
Dan Roussin, who is in charge of highway access permitting for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said the new access plan for the development makes sense from an engineering standpoint, especially given the difficulties of crossing the rail corridor at the Cattle Creek location.
A public hearing for the Garfield County Planning Commission to take up consideration of the development plan amendment has not been set.
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.