Polo mecca near Catherine Store passes first test in Garfield County
The Aspen Times
A proposal for a midvalley polo mecca received a critical initial approval from the Garfield County commissioners this week.
The board voted 3-0 to support a substantial modification to a prior approval for what was known as the TCI Lane Ranch planned unit development one-quarter mile east of Catherine Store and just west of the Waldorf School along old Highway 82.
The old project pursued by El Jebel area developer Ace Lane was approved in 2009 for 89 residences. The new project, sought by Aspen Polo Partners LLP, reduces the residences to 54 and focuses on polo-related facilities. The polo partners, headed by Marc and Melissa Ganzi of Florida, bought Lane’s property for $7.2 million in June.
“We had a great project then, but we have a new owner now and we have a new vision,” said land use planning consultant Jon Fredericks, who represented both the prior and the current owner. “We see this as a blank slate.”
Dominating the slate is two polo fields of 12.5 acres each. Surrounding facilities will be oriented on breeding and training horses and competition. There will be five horse barns for up to 30 horses each with residences for trainers, a maintenance barn and a 4,800-square-foot clubhouse. A total of 12 residences, much of it employee housing, would be on the polo grounds at the north end of the property.
The Ganzis also own the Aspen Equestrian Estates, formerly known as Preshana, adjacent to Catherine Store. They transformed the property into a polo facility in 2014 and their club hosted a 12-tournament schedule last year.
Gary Wright, the attorney for Aspen Polo Partners, said the entity is an “atypical” buyer because their bottom line isn’t financial gain, but top-notch polo facilities. The Ganzis have a major polo development in Florida.
“I don’t want to be presumptuous to say this property has the potential to be Polo West, with Polo East being Florida, but it’s not impossible either,” Wright told the commissioners.
A second phase of the project would feature 42 single-family homes or duplexes on the south side of 100-acre property, but Wright and Fredericks said it isn’t certain the owners will pursue that level of development.
“Forty-two is the maximum,” Wright said. “We’re looking at half of that for a variety of reasons.”
The property caught their eye because of the potential for the polo facilities, he added. The fields can be built utilizing the natural grades.
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky expressed concern that the homes wouldn’t be hooked into the Mid Valley Metropolitan District for sewage service. Instead, the current plan is for an on-site wastewater treatment system.
“It seems almost absurd to me to ask us to do that,” Jankovsky said.
Fredericks said it’s “simply not feasible” to hook into water and sewer service because of the distance and need to run lines under Highway 82. He said the owners and development team “want to make sure we’re being sensitive to the environmental and whatnot.”
The commissioners reserved the right to review the sewage situation in the next round of review if the landowners pursue the 42 residences on the south side of the property.
Jankovsky and commissioners Mike Samson and John Martin approved the amendment to the planned unit development. The next step is for the developer to seek preliminary plan approval, then final plat.
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