Subdivision doesn’t sit well with neighbors
Special to the Post Independent
Despite one dissenting vote from Garfield County Commissioner John Martin, commissioners gave approval Monday afternoon for preliminary plans to the planned unit development and to give a floodplain special use permit to Blue Creek Ranch.
The development is being planned on an 81-acre site at the southeast corner of the intersection of Catherine Store Road and Old Highway 82. Forty-nine residential and nine affordable housing units are being planned for the parcel.
Martin wasn’t the only one in attendance who did not favor the site. Individuals ranging from private citizens concerned with density issues to homeowner association representatives from surrounding developments expressed concern.
In contrast, Fred Jarmon, senior planner for Garfield County, recommended approval for the project, citing Windriver Development’s creative approaches to the development.
On all sides, the project managed to receive accolades – even from many of those who oppose it – mainly because of its innovative approach to development.
Blue Creek Ranch includes more than 60 percent – or 49 acres – of open space. Although a percentage of the parcel is in the 100-year floodplain and is therefore unusable for development, the PUD includes keeping the pasture that abuts Old Highway 82 intact, donating riparian habitat to the Basalt-based Roaring Fork Conservancy to be used in education programs with local schools, setting aside a public park space that can be accessed by private fishermen and boaters, and providing a bike and pedestrian trail and a park-and-ride facility.
Still, opponents voiced their opinions loud and clear.
“I’m very concerned about this project,” said attorney Lee Leavenworth, speaking on behalf of the St. Finnbar subdivision, which is adjacent to Blue Creek Ranch. His concerns involved traffic on the Catherine Store Road and at the Highway 82 intersection, the lack of an adequate restroom facility at the proposed fishermen’s park, and the density of the project, which he says is not in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood.
“St. Finnbar has a one-unit-for-6.7-acres ratio,” Leavenworth said. “Blue Creek is proposing 1 unit per 1.6 acres. Some of these lots are less than a quarter acre in size. The density is too high.”
Blue Creek Ranch representative Larry Green offered that the benefits of the project outweigh the negatives.
“In order to protect pasture land, and riparian habitat, we can’t do it without spending money,” he said, explaining why the project needs the clustered, high density that it does. “We’re setting aside 20 acres of river frontage in perpetuity for the Roaring Fork Conservancy, public, protected access that currently doesn’t exist. We think this balance (of density vs. protection) meets the requirements of a good development.”
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