County gives nod to Keystone land trade
February 26, 2008
SUMMIT COUNTY ” The pending swap of private land in the old Chihuahua town site along Peru Creek involving the U.S. Forest Service and the Town of Breckenridge won’t encounter any substantive opposition from Summit County, commissioners indicated at their regular Tuesday work session.
Forest Service land specialist Paul Semmer presented the board of commissioners with the particulars of the swap, which will allow his agency to acquire about 40 acres of undeveloped land from Keystone-area developer Gary Miller, who owns the Chihuahua site along with several partners, in exchange for Dercum Dash, a little more than 20 valuable acres directly east of the River Run Gondola in Keystone.
The proposed swap also includes two parcels of Forest Service land in Breckenridge: the “Wedge,” about 42 acres in Cucumber Gulch, and the “Claimjumper,” about 10 acres along Airport Road that were cleared of toxic waste last summer. If the swap goes as planned, the Town of Breckenridge will buy both parcels, with the intention of maintaining the Wedge as open space and developing at least a portion of the Claimjumper as attainable housing.
Semmer emphasized that years of planning have already gone into the swap proposal, and the commissioners agreed.
“It isn’t like it’s a rush to judgment,” Commissioner Tom Long said.
Development of Dercum Dash has been in the works for some time. During a previous attempt to put together an acceptable swap package, Miller requested and received zoning approval from Summit County for 24 single-family homes and a 6,000 square-foot clubhouse on the parcel.
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Potential development of the Chihuahua site has long concerned both the Forest Service and area conservationists, and the acquisition of the old town site by the federal government will help preserve the area’s existing level of use.
As for the county’s possible contribution to Breckenridge’s purchase of the Claimjumper parcel for attainable housing, the commissioners have yet to commit.
“The board is very open,” county manager Gary Martinez said. “But there is work yet to do to finalize our particular approach.”
According to Semmer, the Forest Service expects to have an environmental assessment document on the swap available for public comment by late May, and pending approval from all parties, to move forward immediately thereafter.
“The final exchange agreement will probably be made at the end of May or early June,” he said.