Spring Valley still a go | PostIndependent.com

Spring Valley still a go

A subdivision plan that’s been on the books since 1984 went through yet another evolutionary phase Monday. The Garfield County Commissioners approved an amendment to the preliminary plan for the planned unit development that essentially doesn’t change the character of the project. It does give the developers more time to find backing for the project.

Attorney Jim Lochhead, who represents Spring Valley Developers, said the 6,000-acre property is currently under contract for purchase.

However, the public meeting gave disgruntled neighbors an opportunity to vent their frustrations about everything from water hassles to uncaring owners.

Spring Valley Ranch, as it is now called, began life in 1984 as Chenoa, an upscale housing development of 2,750 homes, a 150,000-square foot “village center,” and two 18-hole golf courses.

The land has changed hands and been whittled down over the years. It is now owned by Spring Valley Developers whose principal partner is the Lehman Brothers investment banking company.

It has also been downsized to 577 homes and 20,000 square feet of commercial space anchored by the two golf courses.

Spring Valley Developers faced a deadline for filing a final plat of the subdivision on Nov. 3, and since the land was about to change hands again, they appealed to the county commissioners for an amended preliminary plan that gives it one year to put its final plans in place.

Incorporated into the amendment are conditions imposed by the county, including paving County Road 114 from Colorado Mountain College to the entrance of the subdivision, as well as enlarging the intersection of Highway 82 and 114 to accommodate increased traffic to and from the housing development.

The developers asked for a two year extension in which to complete those improvements.

Neighbors complained bitterly that there had been no communication between the owners of Spring Valley Ranch about project plans.

“I withdraw my support from the development,” said Hal Terrell, who lived on the ranch and helped frame the original plan for the subdivision in 1984, “not because of the plan but the way it’s evolved. (The present owners) have no love and caring for the neighbors.”

Speaking for Lehman Brothers was Chuck Perry of Pine Creek Partners. “Lehman is trying to figure out what they have got here. They’re in discussions with a high-end developer. The communication will be forthcoming to the nth degree,” he said.

Louis and Donnalynn LaGiglia, who live next door to Spring Valley Ranch, said their water line that runs to a spring on the ranch has been out of commission for years and the owners have refused to repair it.

“We had an agreement (with the ranch owners), and now they’re saying they won’t put the line back in because they don’t need the water,” said Louis LaGiglia. “This is something that should be resolved here and now.”

Terrell, who managed the ranch for many years, bristled at LaGiglia’s accusation. “No one took the line out. Jesus Christ and a band of angles couldn’t make it work. It’s out of order. It wore out.”

Lochhead said the LaGiglias are using water from the ranch well for free and can continue to do so. However, one condition of the amendment stipulates that the LaGiglias be given an easement for connecting to the spring.

Although it took almost an hour for the three commissioners to arrive at an agreement over the proposal, the amendment was approved.

The commissioners deadlocked over their decision, voting down a handful of motions. Commissioner Larry McCown was in favor of granting the request for an amended preliminary plan. While she agreed with its substance, Commissioner Tresi Houpt wanted to attach a condition that all trails and open space be built during the first phase of the project. The developers asked for the flexibility to phase in those amenities with the housing construction phases.

Commissioner John Martin, who said he had a long history with the project, opposed the new amendment out of hand.

“I’ve had a real problem with this since 1979. I agree with Hal we need to keep it pristine. The ownership is still up in the air and they’re coming in with new requests,” he said.

After some intense discussions in the hallway outside the commissioners room, Lochhead proposed the trails and open space be dedicated in the first phase and installed over time. Houpt was apparently satisfied with this compromise and voted with McCown to accept the new amendment to the preliminary plan. Martin voted against.

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