Silverthorne development proposes tripling of its housing units, irks some neighbors
March 1, 2015
IF YOU GO
What: Public hearing before the Silverthorne Planning Commission on a density increase proposal from the South Maryland Creek Ranch develpment
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 3
Where: Silverthorne Town Hall, 601 Center Circle, Silverthorne
More information: Assuming the planning commission meeting approves the density proposal, the issue will be brought before the town council for a public hearing in the same location on Wednesday, March 11, at 6 p.m.
A development on the north end of Silverthorne bordering Highway 9 has asked the town to triple the number of housing units it can construct.
South Maryland Creek Ranch wants to increase the density allowed on its 416 acres from 83 single-family houses to 240.
The Silverthorne Planning Commission has invited the community to a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday, March 3, at 6 p.m. at the Silverthorne Town Hall.
The South Maryland Creek Ranch project has been in the works for 12 years, said Joanna Hopkins, development manager for the property, which is owned by the Everist family that also owns the Everist Materials gravel, concrete and asphalt company.
The town approved an annexation of part of the Everist family's roughly 1,000-acre property in 2005, and the parcel was originally planned as a neighborhood of large high-end houses for second- and third-home owners.
The next year, utility infrastructure and three bridges were added to the property, and in 2007 the town approved adding 61 acres to arrive at its current 416 acres.
Development stalled during the real estate crash and recession, which led to a different direction for the property.
Silverthorne planning manager Matt Gennett said the developers applied to amend the property's PUD, or planned unit development, to the 240-unit limit in May 2014.
"The density, at least in terms of the town's perspective, makes sense," he said. "About 30 percent of the property buyers up there would be full-time residents, whereas previously it would have been zero."
Hopkins said the developers would keep 60 percent of the property as open space, adding housing to about 166 acres. The project would include a community center with a pool and gym facility, and 65 percent of the housing will be within a five-minute walk to the center.
"We're trying to really create and foster a sense of community," she said.
South Maryland Creek Ranch also would include a private lake and a 20-acre park deeded to the town, and both features would be adjacent to the highway.
The developers have committed to maintaining public trail access and view corridors from Highway 9, as well as a neutral fiscal impact to the town for services such as water.
As part of the development agreement over the years, the Everist family constructed a deed-restricted, affordable-housing neighborhood of eight duplexes between Silverthorne and Dillon, called Solarado Townhomes, and provided funding for park and trail projects and facilities improvements.
Hopkins said the Everist family envisions the development as the gateway to the town of Silverthorne and a place where historic mining, ranching and agriculture meet mountain-town living.
The town and the developers held two community meetings since the density proposal. One in 2014 drew about 100 people, and one in early February attracted about 50 residents.
"Most of the input has been positive," Gennett said.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, however, submitted an agency recommendation letter to the town that described how the development's latest proposal would have a significantly greater negative impact on wildlife, especially elk.
The development has addressed those concerns with clustered housing and homeowners association requirements, but the agency still suggested the town reduce the total density of the proposal.
Summit County planning staff also recommended Silverthorne not approve such a large jump in density.
One local group, Friends of the Lower Blue River, was shocked to find out about the density proposal two weeks after the latest community meeting, said John Fielder, vice president of the nonprofit.
"This is new news, and none of us is happy about it," said Fielder, a renowned nature photographer and environmental advocate who has lived in the Acorn Creek neighborhood since 2007.
He expressed concerns about the increased amount of housing, from one house per 5 acres to 1.5 houses per acre, and the effects on views and traffic.
"This violates the rural agricultural characteristic of this whole valley," he said. "To me, it just smacks of this urban creep up into one of the most beautiful mountain valleys of the West."
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