Developers catch break with stalled Silverthorne trail
December 14, 2012
The Silverthorne Town Council on Wednesday unanimously granted South Maryland Creek Ranch’s request to defer payments that help fund trail maintenance.
Trail work is on hiatus because of ongoing negotiations between the town and residents over a proposed portion of the Blue River Trail.
“It’s mutually beneficial to South Maryland Creek Ranch and the town. We don’t need the money right now because we’re not currently doing any recpath construction and the development appreciates more time to make the payment,” said Mark Leidal, community development director for the town.
The trail, a paved recpath with an unfinished segment along Mesa Drive, can’t move forward until the town settles with landowners opposing the project.
As part of a development and annexation agreement with Silverthorne, South Creek Maryland Ranch, a development north of town, agreed to cash or in-kind payments equaling $200,000 per year for six years. The funding will be utilized for recreation and trail improvements throughout Silverthorne, with a portion allocated toward the completion of the trail.
The payments due for 2010 and 2011 have been deferred, leaving an outstanding balance of $400,000 owed to the town by 2014.
The funds will be helpful in trail work for the trail, said Michael Johnson, planning manager for South Maryland Creek Ranch.
“An extension of the performance dates correspond with the town’s need for the recreational improvements and the projected completion of Segment 5 of the Blue River Trail work,” Johnson stated in a memorandum to the town.
The construction of the trail is on pause pending the acquisition of easements along the Segment 5 properties along Mesa Drive.
“We’re currently trying to acquire easements along Segment 5,” Leidal said. “We’d like to start building that segment as early as 2013.”
The contentious trail triggered an unprecedented special election Aug. 14 over the town’s right to use eminent domain – a legal proceeding that allows a government to take property deemed to be in the public interest. The election, initiated by homeowners along Segment 5 who were opposed to the system running through their properties, ended with majority favoring the town.
After unsuccessful negotiations with seven property owners along Segment 5 of the proposed trail, the town decided to use its power of eminent domain.
Councilman David Preaus said the decision to enforce the town’s right of eminent domain was a difficult one to make.
“We are a very diverse council and we have rarely voted unanimously on anything, but we all felt that the recpath was something that the community really wanted,” Preaus said. “Unfortunately, we felt there was no alternative to using eminent domain.”
Council passed the third amendment to South Maryland Creek Ranch, which has approved three amendments to the original annexation and development agreement of South Maryland Creek Ranch, allowing payments to be deferred in 2010 and 2011.