Planning board OKs Rock Gardens redevelopment
By Jeremy Heiman
Special to the Post Independent
Garfield County’s Planning and Zoning Commission has given its blessing to a major redevelopment project proposed by the owners of Rock Gardens RV Park in No Name.
The plan must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners before it can go forward. The commissioners will look at the plan in a public hearing, but a date for that meeting has not been set, said Fred Jarman, senior planner for the county.
If the commissioners follow the P&Z’s lead, more than 30 families will be looking for new homes.
Rock Gardens is a 13-acre resort on the Colorado River at Interstate 70’s No Name exit. Its owners, Kevin and Kathy Schneider, want to add spaces for recreational vehicle campers, additional tent camping spaces, a bath house, a community building, a small wastewater treatment plant and other amenities. To make room for the changes, a mobile home park on the property will have to be removed, eliminating as many as 38 affordable housing units.
The Planning and Zoning Commission gave its recommendation with 22 conditions that must be addressed before the application goes to the County Commissioners. Some of these were prompted by residents of No Name who brought their concerns to Thursday evening’s P&Z meeting.
One of those conditions is that the owners must try to relocate the planned wastewater treatment facility, which was to have been on the river bank at the western boundary of the property. Neighbors asked that the plant be moved farther to the east, to reduce the possibility of disturbing odors in their neighborhood.
Another of the conditions, Jarman said, was that the RV park must be buffered from the neighborhood to the west by landscaping.
Fire concerns drove two more of the conditions placed on the plan by the P&Z. Rock Gardens now has only one entrance and exit, located at the No Name interchange on Interstate 70. An emergency fire exit from the property must be built in the eastern portion of the property, allowing evacuation onto the existing Glenwood Canyon bike path, and from there to the No Name rest area.
The owners will also be required to limit the number of fire pits in the camping areas, in order to make it easier to manage campers’ fires.
The owners will also be required to modify the road near the entrance to a more level grade, so that RV drivers don’t need to gain momentum and run the stop sign just to make it up the hill, Jarman said.
Also attending the meeting were three full time Rock Gardens residents. Paula Bergman, who owns her mobile home and lives there with her daughter, complained that, while the neighbors to the west were given notices of the meeting, those families who live in Rock Gardens were not informed.
“Nobody’s going to be affected more than the trailer park residents,” Bergman said, “but they weren’t given notice.”
She also complained that some issues addressed in the conditions applied to the plan should have been dealt with much earlier. Bear-proof trash containers should have been in place much sooner, she said.
The sewer system, which will be renovated with the redevelopment, has had problems for years, Bergman said. Sewer lines freeze and break every winter, she said, because they’re not buried deep enough.
“They were going to have to upgrade their sewer system anyway, and they weren’t going to do it for a mobile home park,” Bergman said.
When the second phase of the Rock Gardens redevelopment begins, perhaps in less than two years, those Rock Gardens residents who own their own trailers will have to pay to have their trailers hauled away. They will also have to pay to have them disposed of, because there are no trailer parks in the area with any space for additional trailers, and there is no market for them.
Before voting five to one to recommend approval of the application, the Planning and Zoning Commission modified the zoning designation of Rock Gardens and made a change to the county’s Comprehensive Plan at the request of the owner. The whole property is now zoned “Low Density Residential,” and mapped as vacant land, although the property has been used for its current activities since the 1960s or even earlier.
The board reclassified the property as “recreational,” a designation already used for Sunlight Mountain Resort and the West Bank Golf Course, in the county’s Comprehensive Plan. At the owners request, the board rezoned the property “Planned Unit Development,” which is a flexible zone designation that allows for multiple uses identified and approved by the county.
Contact Jeremy Heiman: 945-8515, ext. 534
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