CDOT says no to Home Depot in Silverthorne
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
SILVERTHORNE ” Home Depot’s proposal to build a 100,000-square-foot store next to the Blue River in Silverthorne ran into another roadblock last week when the Colorado Department of Transportation nixed the retail giant’s plan for a new bridge across the Blue River.
The proposed bridge directly south of Interstate 70 would have extended from Stephens Way on the east side of the river through a segment of Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) property next to the elevated portion of the interstate. When the state agency reviewed the plan, it gave a thumbs down.
“Since we don’t know what the future of I-70 is, we cannot allow any of our right of way to be impacted,” CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson said.
The bridge had been added to Home Depot’s original proposal ” first submitted to the town in November ” because an initial review by town staff.
“We’re requiring two access points,” Silverthorne director of community development Mark Leidal said. Early traffic studies commissioned by both the town and Home Depot pointed to potential problems with the site’s original single access off Wilderness Road.
“It’s a safety issue,” Leidal added. “The fire district is also requiring a second access.”
The site’s proximity to I-70 severely limits potential locations for a second entrance, and a new bridge across the Blue is probably the developer’s only option, Leidal said. Moving the bridge south ” farther from the interstate ” would require negotiation with other property owners and could potentially cause a more extensive wetland disturbance.
Home Depot has yet to come up with an alternative plan, but company spokesman Mike Ciletti said the CDOT decision hasn’t derailed the proposal.
“It’ll set the project back a little,” he said. “But we’re evaluating other locations for the bridge.”
The CDOT decision came as part of a series of plan evaluations done by several referral agencies. Other reviewing agencies had less major issues with the proposal that also must be addressed by Home Depot. Company representatives will meet with town staff next Wednesday to clarify how the plan needs to be modified.
“The meeting will be a back and forth about the comments,” Ciletti said. “Keeping the lines of communication open before we go and make major changes.”
Some agencies with a particular interest in the potential impact of the development, such as the Colorado Division of Wildlife, have yet to submit comments on the plan, Silverthorne town planner Susan Lee said. Once Home Depot has submitted a revised plan including adequate site access, the town will solicit further comments from relevant agencies.
Despite the slow down, Ciletti said Home Depot remains committed to the project.
“We have to evaluate how all the comments can be addressed.” he said. “Every project is on a budget, but at this point the budget looks good.”
Several Silverthorne residents and business owners have expressed concern about the potential environmental and economic impact of a new big box retailer. Even in this early stage, the town welcomes all public comment on the proposal, Leidal emphasized. The town planning department will forward any written comments to both the planning commission and the town council.
Stock prices of the home improvement giant have stabilized in 2008, after dropping significantly last year, but the contraction of the national real estate market continues to affect the retail chain’s expansion plans. Earlier this spring, the company announced it would close 15 of its existing stores, and scrap plans for 50 new stores it had intended to build.
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