BRECKENRIDGE - Breckenridge officials are hitting the brakes on a master plan proposal for the northern McCain property, which would have ended a long-standing lease with an iconic business while making room for other development, including a gas station or convenience store.
Members of the Breckenridge Town Council decided to pull the master plan proposal being considered by the town planning commission to allow themselves more time to discuss the details of the document early next year.
"We didn't talk about it to any great detail, and it bothered me that we didn't have more of a visionary conversation," Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said. "It was time for us to step back and reassess."
The decision came amid a community outcry, centered largely on a new online community forum, against the replacement of High Country Furniture - whose wooden bears greeted drivers as they arrive in Breckenridge on Highway 9 - with possible service-commercial development. With the town indicating its lease might not be renewed next year, High Country manager John Fullenkamp was prepared to close his doors.
The issue came to a head several weeks ago when town staffers confirmed rumors that a gas station was interested in building in the area currently leased to High Country Furniture.
Fullenkamp applauded the council's decision to slow down the planning process for the McCain property.
"As a member of the community, I would like to thank you guys for withdrawing the application from the planning commission," Fullenkamp told members of the council at a recent meeting. "We appreciate you taking the time to look at this in a little bit more detail. My family would like to continue to live, work and manufacture and sell bears as long as the community will have us. We just wanted to make it clear we really do want to stay."
The withdrawn master plan allocated land for a community solar garden, open space along the Blue River corridor, affordable housing and service-commercial land near the existing Breckenridge Building Company.
Council members plan to take additional feedback from the community on the future of the property before reconsidering the master plan in January.
Breckenridge purchased the McCain property - a rectangular strip of land that runs adjacent to Highway 9 on the north end of town - from a private owner in 2000. One third of the parcel's approximately $1 million price tag was covered with open space funds, as the town intended to preserve the portion of the property along the Blue River corridor.
Breck officials say there are no plans in place to sell off the section of land that runs adjacent to the river for development, but there could be. The town is permitted to sell land purchased with open space dollars as long as the money from the sale is returned to the open space fund.
"The intent is for it to stay open space," Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said in November of the river corridor, which is also a key wildlife migration area. "But it isn't like a land trust."