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New Castle tees up first upscale housing project

Donna Daniels

New Castle is about to get its first upscale housing development, complete with an 18-hole public golf course.

Developers of Eagles Ridge Ranch, formerly the Faas Ranch, outlined their plans for the 312-acre property just east of Castle Valley Ranch subdivision in a presentation Wednesday to the New Castle Planning and Zoning Commission.

The property is located north and east of Castle Valley Boulevard and surrounds Highland Cemetery.

Eagles Ridge Ranch Development LLC has the property under contract. Current owner Faye Faas won town approval in 1999 for annexation and a 650-home planned unit development.

Under the new plan, single-family homes will range in size from 2,000 to 4,500 square feet and condo or townhouse units from 1,800 to 2,000 square feet, said James Colombo, an Aspen contractor who represents the developer. The number of units is yet to be determined.

Lot prices will start at $90,000 and go up to $160,000, he said.

Also included in the plan is a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse built in a style strikingly similar to the clubhouse at Aspen Glen Golf Course and gated community near Carbondale.

Colombo presented sketches of wood-sided houses that showed what he called a “Western and Adirondack motif.”

Aspen attorney David Myler, representing the developers, said the intent is to divide the property into three parcels. Three separate companies have agreed to finance the three separate parcels, he explained.

Most financial institutions “want to bite off small pieces of the apple instead of the whole thing,” he said.

One parcel will encompass the golf course. The second parcel will be the first phase of construction around the golf course. The third parcel will include the remainder of the property.

Eagle Ridge also plans to donate five acres adjacent to Highland Cemetery to the town.

Although the developers have not submitted a formal application for the project, they asked the planning commission Wednesday for an exemption from New Castle subdivision regulations to speed up the process and help them secure financing.

Commission members agreed to make that recommendation to Town Council, which will consider the matter May 7.

Such exemptions are routinely granted in Garfield County for parcels over 35 acres in the agricultural rural residential zone. In New Castle, subdivision exemptions may be granted at the discretion of the planning commission, said town attorney David McConaughy.

But he advised the commission to ask Town Council to enact an ordinance for the exemption.

The resolution for the subdivision exemption approved Wednesday by the planning commission carries conditions.

Eagles Ridge Development LLC must comply with the original 1999 Faas annexation agreement. Once the subdivision exemption is approved, the developer must file a formal petition for annexation within six months.

Although the planning commission agreed to grant the exemption, members worried that the three parcels might be developed and sold separately. Myler and Colombo said that was not their intention.

McConaughy also pointed out that while the original annexation agreement laid out densities for the project, it did not cover water storage or sewer and water lines. Utilities run along Castle Valley Boulevard, which cuts across the southwest portion of the property.

The commissioners roundly supported both the subdivision exemption and what little they saw of the development plan.

“You came with a less detailed plan a year ago,” said Mayor Bill Wentzel, who sits on the planning commission. “We told you we supported it. It’s your job to figure out if the market’s out there for what you want to build. It would be an amenity for the town.”

He also urged the developer to keep the recreation facilities affordable.

More discussion will occur when the developers file for annexation and submit a preliminary plan.


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