This fall the town of Blue River plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Meanwhile, construction crews will soon be breaking ground on an almost 50-acre multi-use development. The development is being built in what is known as the Ruby Placer parcel, an area of land just more than 48 acres located on the east side of Colorado Highway 9, adjacent to the Skier’s Edge and Quandary Condos.
“We’re very excited about starting this project,” said Blue River Mayor Lindsay Backas.
The development allows a maximum of 68 units of single-family homes or townhomes built as two-, three- or four-unit structures. It will also feature a community center, parks, trails, pond and one 2.3-acre area that has the potential to house commercial properties following a minimum two-year study.
The town board of trustees voted July 15 on a second reading to the Ruby Placer land annexation and approved a development plan for the property. The land, formerly unincorporated, will be developed by Cabin Properties LLC and Carl A. Schmidt Living Trust.
The mayor said the developers are giving a lot back to the community, including a community center that will be built and paid for by the developers, but will be personalized by the town.
They are also going to give the town a private transfer tax. Most towns in Summit County receive a 1 percent transfer tax every time a house is sold. Blue River does not.
“But the developer has agreed to give a half-percent private transfer fee to the town,” Backas said.
The other half percent will go to the homeowners association to help maintain the property.
Dominic Mauriello, interim town planner, said the development should net the town approximately $92,000 annually in additional revenue.
However, the project is not without detractors. It is seen by some as too much development, too soon, for Blue River.
“People want to keep Blue River as forested as possible,” said resident Carol Gerard.
But Janice Schmidt, a longtime resident and owner of the property in question, said that is her goal too. She bought the land with her late husband, Carl Schmidt, more than 20 years ago. She said ever since they first hiked around that property and soaked in views of Quandary Peak, they had a vision to one day develop the property, while maintaining the beauty of the land.
“This is more than just a development — it’s like a legacy,” Schmidt said. “We want other people to be able to enjoy this beautiful property and live in an affordable home. This is a place where people want to raise a family.”
Schmidt, who has worked as a registered nurse for 30 years, said she plans to live on the property. She has a house in the northwest corner. Some of the trails her family made through the landscape over the years will be implemented into the green spaces.
“I have a bear that hibernates on my property,” Schimdt said. “I have two female moose who come into my yard all the time. I want to preserve the beauty and wildlife here. That’s why the development keeps about half of the 50 acres as green or open space.”
In fact, according to the approved conceptual development plan, approximately 23 of the 48 acres are guaranteed to remain open/green space. It also contains a forest-management plan. And the 5-acre strip of the plan devoted to a medium-density residential area is placed adjacent to Skier’s Edge and Quandary Condos so as to better blend into the environment.
The plan even calls for creation of a bus stop in hopes the Summit Stage bus line will one day extend its route south to Blue River.
Backas said the changing demographics of the community have made the development a good step for the town.
“Blue River has changed,” Backas said. “This used to be just a second-home community. But now a lot of locals live here. More people live here full time than ever before.”
Backas pointed to demographic data showing that approximately 70 percent of residents live there full time. The only other Summit County town with such a high number of permanent residents is Silverthorne.
“People are looking to raise a family here and be part of the community,” Backas said.
And if everything goes according to plan, in the near future there’ll be room for about 68 new families to move into Blue River.