Silverthorne Town Council approves South Maryland Creek Ranch density increase | SummitDaily.com

Silverthorne Town Council approves South Maryland Creek Ranch density increase

Alli Langley
alangley@summitdaily.com

After a couple months of opposition to a development in Silverthorne, just one person spoke against the proposal Wednesday, June 10, before the Silverthorne Town Council approved the property's density change.

The vote was 4-1 with Mayor Pro-Tem Ann-Marie Sandquist and council members Russ Camp, Derrick Fowler and Peggy Long in support of South Maryland Creek Ranch's change from 83 to 240 units and Stuart Richardson the lone dissenting voice.

"I consider it an outrageous proposal to go up to 240 density," Richardson said later. "I said, 'No, that's not right.'"

Mayor Bruce Butler only votes to break a split decision, per town charter, and Councilwoman JoAnne Nadalin had not been sworn in in time to vote on the change on second reading.

Tom Everist, a longtime resident and the property's developer and owner, said he was pleased with the council's approval and overall process.

"We're looking to start sales later this summer," he said. "We're excited to be part of the future of Silverthorne."

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STALLED THEN APPROVED

In March, the council postponed its vote on the density change for 60 days to allow Everist and his team to meet with community members. Residents' outcry centered around sprawl down the Lower Blue River Valley and growth that would change the area's rural character as well as concerns around traffic and wildlife threats.

No one attended the June 10 meeting from the conservation organization Friends of the Lower Blue River (FOLBR), which started a petition that garnered roughly 300 signatures against the development's change, said Marty Richardson, the nonprofit's director and Stuart Richardson's wife.

"It was a pretty much a done deal," she said. "The council really had made up their mind along with the town quite a few months ahead of time, and they didn't see any need to be responsive to any of the concerns."

Sandquist disagreed, citing town planning commission meetings on the density change that were open to public as well as a handful of South Maryland Creek Ranch community meetings over the last year or more.

The development is paying for itself and will be good for the town, she said. "It brings some more affordable housing into our community than what was originally proposed."

As to requests to compromise on the density, Sandquist said, the town council members can only vote on the proposal in front of them.

"There has to be a reason to say no to a project as well, and frankly they're meeting all the things that we have asked for," she said. "You have to be fair to the owner of the property as well."

STOPPING SPRAWL

Everist said though he has promised all along not to try to annex and develop his roughly 640-acre parcel that forms the north part of Maryland Creek Ranch, he made his pledge legally binding after FOLBR representatives and other locals expressed fears about what could happen to that land in the future.

Everist signed a covenant recorded with the parcel's deed that he would never annex the land into the town, which means any development must comply with county regulations that currently stipulate one unit per 20 acres.

The landowner of the property east of Maryland Creek Ranch across Highway 9, called Eagles Nest Mountain Ranch, LLC, was party to the covenant, and the county was a beneficiary. The covenant calmed people down and resolved the annexation creep issue, Everist said.

Marty Richardson called the agreement a partial win, and Stuart Richardson said it seems to be a good blocking mechanism to stop development going north.

"We're trying to build a town and then shut it off, at least I am," he said. "You have to limit growth."

The town's population of just over 4,000 residents is projected to grow to nearly 6,000 over the next 15 years, and Richardson said he thinks Silverthorne should stop there.

HOW TO GROW

Marketing studies for South Maryland Creek Ranch show roughly 50 percent of its homeowners will come from the Front Range, with the rest split nearly evenly between out-of-state buyers and relocating Summit County homeowners.

The majority of units range from $550,000 to $625,000, and 26 estate plots will be available for owners to build homes as they choose with values of $1 million and up.

Everist and his team held information sessions in the spring with FOLBR, the Three Peaks and Eagles Nest HOAs, Lake Dillon Fire Rescue and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to explain slight tweaks to the original proposal, including a revised wildlife impact plan and several strategies to relieve traffic congestion during construction and after build-out. One meeting drew about 50 people.

Everist said construction crews will be prohibited from using a road shared by South Maryland Creek Ranch and Three Peaks, the neighboring subdivision to the south, and a camera will be installed for enforcement as well as to monitor traffic in the future in case a stop sign or other control device needs to be added.

He also said some of the project's houses were moved away from Three Peaks to address view concerns, and in the last few months, the development agreed to pay the town a $4,000 fee for every lot sale past the 83 units approved nearly 10 years ago.

At its May 27 meeting, when the town council approved the development on first reading, residents still called for a compromise in the density, but almost everyone who spoke agreed that the developer made noticeable improvements, particularly in wildlife mitigation and traffic control.

Everist has pointed out that not all the FOLBR petition signees were residents of the town of Silverthorne, to which Marty Richardson said the opinions of other Summit County residents and visitors should matter as well.

"These are land-use decisions that I think the whole county will face in many other ways as we face population pressures," she said.

Anyone interested in the preservation and history of the Lower Blue River Valley is invited to FOLBR's annual community gathering and ice cream social Saturday, June 20, from 2-5 p.m. at the Slate Creek Community Hall. FOLBR is in the process of restoring the 1936 WPA structure, located on Slate Creek Road about 10 miles north of Silverthorne just south of Ute Pass Road.

BY THE NUMBERS: South maryland creek ranch

A look at how the South Maryland Creek Ranch development has changed over the last 15 years.

2001 to 2014

1 on 5 acres — rural density limit approved by town council in 2001

71 units — proposed by developer in 2005

83 units — proposed by developer in 2007

355 acres — size of SMCR parcel when annexed in 2005

416 acres — current size of SMCR parcel after addition of 61 acres in 2007

2015

2 percent — increase in development area

10 years — duration of proposed build-out

22 percent — increase in built square footage

60 percent — proposed open space on SMCR parcel

200 percent — increase in number of bedrooms

240 units — approved by town council in June

300 percent — increase in units from 2007 to 2015

$550,000 to $625,000 — price range for majority of units

$1.8 million — real estate transfer tax revenues generated per decade

$4.7 million — sales and property tax revenues generated during build-out

Sources: Town of Silverthorne; South Maryland Creek Ranch