A good view of buildout issues
This past spring, during his election bid, a wise town official reminded a few citizens of the importance of their involvement in the activity of surrounding lands, and that once this land is gone, it’s gone forever. He was elected overwhelmingly.Tonight, during an important hearing regarding the development of one of the most prized view corridors in the county, residents have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the direction we take in the fast-approaching buildout of Summit County.The Upper Blue Planning Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse in Breckenridge (208 E. Lincoln) to discuss the fate of the proposed speculative home development on top of Gibson Hill currently known as Big Sky Ranch. Formerly known as Eureka Estates, this 22-home development would in fact be a development that could change the face of a hillside, and a town – permanently. Encompassing a mere 133 acres, some homes would exceed 10,000 square feet in size and be located on the very top of the 10,476-foot Gibson Hill.Gibson Hill was identified this summer, during an Upper Blue Master Plan open house, as one of the most viewable hilltops from more vantage points in the county than nearly any other area, reaching from Interstate 70 to Hoosier Pass and nearly every point in the Upper Blue valley. It has also been widely used for decades as a recreation area, host to numerous trails and serves a prized gateway to the Golden Horseshoe and the B&B Mines acquisition.Development in Summit County can be and has been a positive force for residents, resulting in additional jobs, facilities and services from the increased property tax revenue and construction activity. While most would prefer to keep our secret about the Summit lifestyle, it can’t be denied we owe a great deal to the vision of several key developers, planners, and town officials over the past several years who have made some incredibly forward-thinking decisions.Today, as we near buildout, the availability of land on which to build sustainable, smart developments that minimize the impact on surroundings has become scarce. Therefore, development in the 21st century requires intense collaboration among town and county planners, developers, citizens and landowners. This new face of development also requires creativity and, inevitably, compromise.Big Sky Ranch is, sadly, an example of the decades-old school of development: The kind where it is assumed any mining claim, ridgeline or not, is a great place to build, where site plans contain maximum density at the expense of their surroundings, and where planning and work session suggestions along with zoning guidelines are cast aside as mere obstacles to be fought in court.This lack of creativity and cooperation with planners on behalf of Big Sky Ranch’s developers and representatives is alarming, and it’s a great example of why county citizens must remain engaged, involved and aware. We owe to our descendants a community and a county that is crafted with them in mind, and that requires proactive discussion to ensure it’s assets are better than we found them and not gone for good.Tonight is a great place to start.
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