Spring Valley Ranch expected to make it formal in December | PostIndependent.com

Spring Valley Ranch expected to make it formal in December

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A proposed development in Spring Valley, which has been on the local governmental radar screen for decades, is expected to go before Garfield County in December to file the final, formal documents for Phase I of the multi-phase project.

And included in the filing will be a new arrangement for fire protection services by the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District, instead of the Glenwood Springs Fire Department.

Spring Valley is above and to the east of Highway 82, about midway between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

According to Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach, the agreement with Spring Valley Ranch is to provide fire protection based on the understanding that “it’s only open space,” and that no homes will be built in Phase One.

“It’s basically all just meadow,” he said, adding that his crew can reach the area in “about 20 minutes.”

Leach explained that the project’s owners, Spring Valley Ranch LLC, out of San Francisco, will be paying the Carbondale fire district $25,000 for a year’s worth of basic fire protection. The agreement is to be considered for renewal annually, he said.

The Glenwood Springs Fire Department, which has been signed up to provide service to Spring Valley for the past nine years, is no longer on the job, according to Fire Chief Mike Piper.

“We had a good relationship,” Piper said, noting that the contract for service called for the developers to pay the district $150,000 annually, despite the fact that the only significant structure on the property is the historic ranch house.

But, he continued, the contract was based on the expectation that homes would have been built by now. He said the long-range plan was for the developers to build and equip a fire substation to be staffed by the Glenwood district.

But the developers did not meet the deadline for paying the coming year’s service charge, Piper said, and wanted to renegotiate the agreement at a lower amount. The negotiations went nowhere and the developers opted to switch their contractual attention to Carbondale.

Daniel Goldberg, representing the developers, told the Post Independent that “it just made more sense” to switch to the Carbondale district, which also provides fire protection to the nearby Colorado Mountain College campus.

The current PUD for the project, which is to cover roughly 6,000 acres, got its most recent approvals from Garfield County in December 2007, followed by extensions of those approvals when the national economy went into recession.

But some version of the Spring Valley Ranch development has been in the works for three decades.

According to county records, Spring Valley Ranch saw its first attempts at development in 1977, by a partnership of local investors and one in Chicago. The next formal applications were filed in 1984 for Chenoa, an upscale housing development of 2,750 homes, a 150,000-square-foot “village center,” and two 18-hole golf courses.

By 2003 the project was again known as Spring Valley Ranch, and by 2005 it had been downsized to 577 homes and 20,000 square feet of commercial space anchored by the two golf courses.

It has been through a series of ownership changes over the years, that have included at different times a group of Saudi Arabian investors and, more recently, the Lehman Brothers investment banking firm, which went bankrupt last year as part of the catastrophic meltdown of the world’s financial markets.

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