In its eighth iteration, Silverthorne townhome development still deemed too dense
Homeowners and developers debated the future of a potential townhome complex late into Wednesday night at a Silverthorne Town Council meeting. This was not the first time town council had seen an application for Foxfield Townhomes, a traingular, 4.19-acre development sandwiched between The Ponds at Blue River and State Highway 9. Council denied a previous iteration in 2011 due to the high density of the proposed development, and voted the same this time.
Council denied the application for Foxfield Townhomes with a three-to-two vote — Mayor Pro-Tem Ann-Marie Sandquist was absent — following the planning commission’s recommendation. Applicant Bobby Brown with Arapahoe Architects intended to place 25 units in the allotted space, an amount deemed too high for the density of the surrounding developments.
According to the town’s analysis, the gross density (total units divided by acreage) of the proposed development would be 5.97 units per acre, significantly denser than the neighboring development, The Ponds, at 3.75 units per acre. By town regulations, the proposed townhomes would not be compatible based on this difference.
“I would love to see something there, and a nice project would do a lot to that particular part of town,” Councilwoman JoAnne Nadalin said. “I just don’t support the current project at that density.”
Originally designated as a commercial property, the land was purchased by Silverthorne 3.5, LLP and re-zoned as a residential space, in accordance with town recommendations. But the plan for several multi-family residential units has seen eight iterations since 2009, each deemed too dense by the Eagles Nest Property Homeowners Association.
Net or not?
In a note to the planning commission, owner Silverthorne 3.5, LLP disagreed with the town’s calculations, arguing that net density, or the size of each lot, was key.
“In reality, the judgment on compatibility will be based substantially and primarily upon visual comparisons of properties, in other words net density and the manner in which the units are clustered,” Silverthorne 3.5, LLP wrote. “The unfortunate irony of the current recommendation of the Staff Report to limit units per acre to 3.75 is that it will most likely result in the inability of the applicants — or any future potential purchaser of the property for that matter — to build residential units on the property. It is not commercially feasible to purchase and develop a 4-acre property in order to build 15 or 16 townhomes.”
Based on those calculations, the net density of the two developments would be comparable, with Foxfield at 5.97 units per acre and the Ponds at 6.07. Several residents of the Ponds made an appearance at Wednesday’s meeting, expressing their concerns with property values, view corridors and noise with the proposed 35-foot tall townhomes.
“If you go look at that hole, put 25 units in that hole and think that’s compatible with the ponds, I don’t agree,” Ponds Subassociation president Jay Pansing said. “They’re shoehorning too many units in there … They want to disagree with the town staff on how to determine density.”
Architect Bobby Craig rebutted: “We’ve been talking density for eight years. We agree to disagree. I wanted to get to a constructive point and say, ‘What are the things we can do about the density to mitigate them to make you feel better?’”
Ultimately, council members Russ Camp and Peggy Long joined Nadalin in her vote against the proposal.
“There’s just not a lot of common area in there. I just can’t support it for that reason,” Long said. She added that a potential commercial development in that lot might be the best use at the time.
On the other hand, council members Derrick Fowler and Stuart Richardson supported the application, as they did in previous years.
“The only thing we can fairly compare this density to is the plots,” Fowler said. “We know the developer, we know the builder … You do business with the people you know. If he puts this up for sale, you could be in here with a whole different tone — not complaining about the density but about a hideous new development in there.”
The Ponds Subassociation claimed that on multiple occasions, the owner mentioned that if the plan was not approved, the land would be sold and commercial space would go in place instead. Though he had no vote, Mayor Bruce Butler added his two cents to the conversation, adding that this was his “third rodeo” with the property. He emphasized his preference that a residential development fill the space, rather than a gas station, and encouraged both parties to find a compromise that would work in terms of financials and density.
“I’m sympathetic to the difficulty of the shape of the property. I’m sympathetic to the fact that I really think a commercial application to this space would really be a long-term disaster for everyone in the ponds,” he said. “It’s unfortunate for the number of bites at the apple here that there hasn’t been a way to get agreement.”
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