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Public response to development reserved

Richard Swanson wasn’t sure what to expect when he asked for public input Thursday night about a proposed 270-home housing development up Four Mile Road.”I didn’t know if there would be burning torches,” Swanson said after presenting his initial plans for the Bershenyi and Martino ranches to about 40 people at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.Swanson, of Westminster Swanson Land Partner LLC, of Lake Forest, Ill., didn’t take much heat about the Reserve at Elk Meadow, the development the company is proposing for about 1,600 acres of ranchland. He even received some thanks from Four Mile Road property owners for asking for their opinions, and some compliments for the work the company has done so far.”I think there’s a lot of thought that went into this plan here,” said David Bowers, a Glenwood Springs resident who owns a lot where he plans to build on Four Mile Ranch, just down Four Mile from Bershenyi Ranch.He said he appreciates Westminster Swanson’s plans to preserve the 135-acre hayfield on the east side of Four Mile Road, near Four Mile Ranch.In 2003, Glenwood Springs voters soundly rejected a proposal to annex Four Mile Ranch into the city. The annexation would have paved the way for development of what was to have been called Red Feather Ridge, consisting of 149 lots on 132 acres. The election loss meant that the property reverted to a previously approved county development of about 50 lots.Glenwood-area resident Ken Call suggested Swanson could learn a lesson from that election.”It gets back to density. You can color it any way you want, but it’s density,” he said. “I hope you take some of those previous decisions into account.”Swanson said he realizes the Elk Meadow and Red Feather Ridge proposals are similar in total housing numbers. But the density of Elk Meadow is far less because it is spread over many more acres, he said.Swanson is tentatively planning on building nearly 200 homes on about 459 acres on the lower meadows portion of the property, but that acreage includes the hayfield that would be preserved. Some 75 homes would be built on an upper meadow that consists of 1,159 acres, but about 1,000 of those acres would be maintained as open space.Swanson said homes on the upper lots might average 4,500 to 5,000 square feet in size, and have a median cost of about $625,000 to $650,000, he said.”We don’t want to build McMansions. We don’t want to overdo this,” he said.He said he wants the development to be in keeping with the character of the community, and to consist of year-round residents.Developers have been talking with the Glenwood Springs Fire Department and plan to work to minimize wildfire danger at the development.Four Mile resident Jim Hawkins said the wildfire issue related to the development is partly a traffic issue. “People want to know if they can get out,” he said.Residents up Four Mile fear that another development will create more of a bottleneck on the road, both in emergencies and from day to day.Swanson said developers are prepared to help contribute to traffic solutions on Four Mile Road. Westminster Swanson has yet to submit a formal application with the county. He said it may be another four to six months before it does so.Developers will hold another informal public discussion about the project at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Community Center.Developers will hold another informal public discussion about the project at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Community Center.


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