Sun Meadows developer agrees to make good on completion
Silt Mesa residents got a modicum of satisfaction Monday as the developer of a subdivision plagued with problems agreed to meet his obligations. At issue is Sun Meadows Estates on Antonelli Lane in Silt. Neighbors have complained about the condition of the road and the developers unmet promises about its completion.This has been one of those cursed subdivisions where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, said county commissioner John Martin. There were too many promises made and not kept.This thing has been going on so long and is so screwed up were sick of it, said Brian Fratzke, who lives on the east end of Antonelli Lane next to the development.The problems began in May when developer Fred Cooke sent a letter to the neighbors saying the Antonelli Lane upgrade would take between six and eight weeks.I was a builder, Ive done subdivisions and I know how the process should work. It should take three to four weeks. He screwed up from the beginning, Fratzke said. They had it tore up and potholed Its just a mess.As of Monday, the road remained unpaved and in poor condition.Cooke defended his project to the Garfield County Commissioners Monday, saying his road contractor was at fault. County engineer Jeff Nelson inspected the road and found it did not meet county standards for compaction, shoulder gradient and roadbase depth.We had problems with the contractor, Cooke said. We had planned to complete (the road) in July The contractor did not do the work as he was supposed to do. It was not properly done.The blacktopping should be completed by the end of the week or early next week, he said.Cookes problems have also been mounting with the county. Planning director Mark Bean told the commissioners Monday that the subdivision improvements agreement for Sun Meadows, which must be met before houses can be sold, has expired.Besides widening and paving Antonelli Lane, Cooke must also make improvements to possibly two roads where they intersect with Highway 6&24, Ukele and Miller lanes. Both provide direct access to Antonelli Lane and the subdivision.A traffic study commissioned by Cooke pointed to Ukele Lane as the focus for improvements. The Colorado Department of Transportation has issued a permit for those improvements, including acceleration and deceleration lanes, to take place. However, neighbors and the county commissioners support widening Miller Lane, a more substantial road that could carry more traffic than Ukele.In August, Commissioner John Martin met with the Antonelli Lane neighbors and listened to their concerns. He recalled that the commissioners agreed the developer had the choice of which road intersection to improve. When the traffic study was done, it said Ukele Lane would be used by 50 (of the residents of Sun Meadows) It had nothing to do with the county, he said.However, the neighbors brought to the commissioners attention that Ukele, not Miller Lane, was slated for improvement. The commissioners agreed that Miller Lane should carry the bulk of Sun Meadows traffic and be widened to accommodate it.Monday, Tim Thulson, Cookes attorney, acknowledged Cooke may be obligated to CDOT to widen Ukele and to the county for improving Miller Lane.Were stuck between two entities. The worst case scenario is well have to do both, he said.Cooke agreed to make improvements to Miller Lane but also asked for a 12-month extension to do so, saying he needed time to acquire rights-of-way on private property and the railroad and a federal wetlands permit.Besides the problems with the roads, the county released Cookes security for the project prematurely, so remaining work is not covered financially in case he defaults.Thulson said he did not think Cooke could get a second loan on the project to put up as security. However, county attorney Don DeFord suggested Cooke set some lots aside as security on the remainder of the project. Both Cooke and the commissioners agreed in principle to the idea.Martin said it was an internal problem in the county that the full amount of the security was released instead of a percentage a common practice in subdivision development. We werent keeping on top of it.In a Sept. 30 letter to the county outlining the problems with the development, Steven Dahmer said disciplinary action was taken against a county employee for the release of security. Martin said it is a personnel issue. If any action had to be taken it has been done and well go on from there, he said. Everyone knows its a real mess. Everyone played part in it and so did the commissioners.The commissioners tabled a decision on the subdivision Monday, giving Cooke time to make arrangements for financial security for the remainder of the project.All three commissioners agreed they did not want to see the project fail or to have the developer forfeit it to the county. However, they also agreed Cooke could not be issued certificates of occupancy on the homes he now has under construction, which would allow him to put them up for sale, until all the improvements he agreed on are completed.The worst thing we can do is not renew the subdivision improvements agreement and make them pull off and pay off what we can and take over on a tax lien or on a legal action and be in land development business, Martin said. Not that I wasnt tempted. But it wouldnt help neighbors at all.The commissioners will reconsider the matter at their Oct. 17 meeting.
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