Advisory council declines easement through open space
FRISCO – County Open Space Advisory Council (OSAC) members Wednesday denied a request for an easement or the sale of a small parcel of open space land to Jeff White, who wants the land to build a driveway.
OSAC unanimously declined the request, saying it could set precedent, that selling open space or granting an easement through it contradicts the management plan for the area and that OSAC has a duty to taxpayers to get the best deal for their money.
White, who owns a home near Summerwood between Dillon and Keystone, wants to subdivide that parcel and build a house on the new lot.
However, he can’t submit a proposal to the county planning department until he can determine where a driveway will be built.
White wants to trade a small triangular piece of his land on the other side of County Road 88 for a chunk of the county-owned Tenderfoot Meadow Open Space.
He said he can build a driveway without acquiring the open space parcel, but it would have a 120- to 130-degree turn in it – far larger than the 90-degree maximum turn recommended under fire safety standards.
The county planning staff, however, believes the impacts of a new driveway should be borne by the private property owned by the Whites and not the public open space parcel.
OSAC members said they would consider selling part of an open space parcel if they got a fair price and if the sale was in the public’s best interest.
White says the triangular parcel is worth far more – in monetary value and to the public – than the county’s strip of land adjoining his property.
OSAC members reminded White that discussing the triangular piece is irrelevant because he will probably lose it in the subdivision process.
In that process, the county requires a landowner to dedicate a portion of his or her land for open space or pay $575 for each subdivided lot if the land has no open space values.
“This is a process quagmire,” said Open Space and Trails Director Todd Robertson. “We aren’t typically asked to give away parcels.”
White said he would fence off the triangular piece that abuts the bike path if he can’t come to an agreement with the county.
“If we don’t get that triangle and you put a fence up, I don’t care,” said OSAC member Turk Montepare. “I’m not going to be held hostage. If this were someone else, you’d say there was a deal cut. That’s the scrutiny we have to be under.”
OSAC members also agreed that a private driveway leading to the new parcel would enhance the value of White’s property, and if so, he should pay an equitable amount to the county for the land.
“Just because someone says, “I’m going to build a fence,’ or “I’m going to build an ugly house,’ or “I’m going to bust your chops unless you give me what I want,’ we won’t pay too much (for a parcel),” Montepare said. “We don’t sell anything unless we get fair value. If you get a windfall (because of a possible increased value of the property), it falls to OSAC and the BOCC (Board of County Commissioners) to explain it. We must stand the muster of the people saying, “Why did you do that?’ or “What do we get for it?’ That’s what we have to explain to the taxpayers.”
OSAC recommended White pursue his subdivision application and determine where the driveway should be put later.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or
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