Eureka! Breck Town Council opposes houses
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Town Council members are vehemently opposed to Eureka Estates, a proposed development on top of Gibson Hill. In defense, Rodney Allen, the developer’s representative, says the plan the town council saw on Tuesday isn’t anything close to what the developer will present to the Upper Blue Planning Commission in the next month or two.The council is concerned with the houses being built on a ridgeline, which doesn’t agree with a plan to concentrate development away from the valley’s views. Zoning loopholes could allow the developer to build with more density, because of how the mining claims were placed in different names, although the names are attached to the same address in Houston.Allen believes the council might not have heard that he requested the county planning staff pull the application from the Sept. 23 Upper Blue Planning Commission agenda so the developer, Danny Middleton, could make some changes.”It was premature for them to see any presentation,” Allen said. “What the town saw last night is going to be so different than what the planning commission will see next month. What the town saw last night is not what we’re proposing. We still have to do a lot of work with staff before it goes to the planning commission. We will abide by what the planning commission asks us to do.”The project was originally composed of 20 homes on 98 acres; the developer has since acquired more land and changed the plans to comprise 22 homes on 134 acres.
History of zoningSummit County adopted zoning in 1969, and zoned the Eureka Estates area A-1, which allows development of one unit per 20 acres.The county developed a merger provision in 1995 that says mining claims are considered merged when parcels are contiguous and owned by the same person. That ensures minimum lot size requirements are met for the zoning district in which the land is located, in this case, A-1.But the previous owner of this property – and now the current owner – avoided the merger provision requirements by placing the land in different names. Summit County Assessor’s records list them all: Dorothy Lynn Taylor, Laurie Middleton, Melissa Middleton, RGDM Ltd., MGDM Ltd., DDMCWM LLC and the Sterling Trust Co. – all to the same address in Houston.Because they are technically nonmerged parcels, and the developer says each is entitled to its own building.Concerns from JUMP
Despite the fact that a different proposal for Eureka Estates is likely, town council members and Upper Blue Planning commissioners still have concerns.They agree the project doesn’t meet the principles of the Joint Upper Blue Master Plan (JUMP), which was designed to concentrate development in the urban core. Sections in the JUMP highly discourage ridgeline development and encourage minimal disturbance to the land and protection of view corridors.”I’ve been a stickler about ridgeline development – a couple of lots are right at the top,” said Dave Rossi, a resident opposed to the project. “Another issue I have is with the planning commission trying to follow the guidelines of JUMP. This would be the place they really need to apply the spirit of JUMP. Gibson Hill really is a prized view corridor.”The homes are proposed to be built on steep slopes and at the back of each lot, making it likely that they will be visible from the valley floor – a major faux pas of the JUMP.But Allen doesn’t think the project will be visible at all.”The burden’s on us to show the community that,” he said. “We’re going to prove it will be the lowest-impact development possible. We will work to make a responsible, high-quality, environmentally-sensitive project that works for everybody.”Concerns with density
Another bone of contention is how much density should be allowed at the site in the first place. The project is composed of 17 mining parcels, each of which the developer says has its own development rights. But the area was later zoned to allow one residential unit per 20 acres. A loophole could allow Middleton to build one unit on each mining claim, but he would have to obtain minimum lot size variances for each one.Town officials aren’t so sure that density is guaranteed.”Just because someone was going to build a mine someplace, somehow translates that it is developable land?,” said Councilmember Eric Mamula. The town doesn’t have any official say in the issue, as the parcels are located in unincorporated Summit County. But it concerns council members because the project will affect the town. Out of courtesy, county planners let the town have a look at the plans because the project is so close to town boundaries.”Unfortunately, we have no control over it, no real say in it,” Mamula said. “How does a community really protect itself from this? Is there any way? Do we have any say in what we have to look at for eternity? This is such a far cry from anything else we’ve had in town.”The town plans to draft a letter in opposition to the project to the Upper Blue Planning Commission. And Mamula hopes citizens get more involved.”There hasn’t been an outcry,” he said. “I don’t know if this community understands what this will be like. That’s a prominent hill in town. People are going to be PO’d.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at email@example.com.
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