Ranch back on S’thorne’s plate
SILVERTHORNE – The Blue River Ranch proposal is breathing new life – and reigniting old controversy.
While a 350-home, 500-acre development anchored by an 18-hole golf course may be enough to start tongues wagging, the hottest issue so far is a proposed extension of County Road 2020 through the planned upscale community.
The development is planned for the east side of Highway 9 on land extending from the Blue River to the national forest boundary.
The main access to the golf course property would be on Bald Eagle Road off Highway 9.
County Road 2020 offers the primary access to the existing Ptarmigan subdivision above Silverthorne. The road now dead-ends at land proposed as part of Blue River Ranch. The town wants 2020 to become a second access to the ranch. That secondary access would allow traffic from Blue River Ranch onto 2020 and down the mountain into town via Tanglewood Lane.
It’s not just Ptarmigan residents whose homes border 2020 who oppose the idea. The Blue River Ranch developer is, too.
“Our position is that it would be an emergency-access only,” said ranch project manager Matt Dean, who represents the new developer, Sentex Destination Properties. “We’re in alignment with Ptarmigan (residents).”
The town is taking a different position.
“Staff has and will continue to require two, full access points to serve this development,” Silverthorne public works director Bill Linfield wrote in a memo about the project. “I am concerned that we not even consider anything less than the required two full accesses.”
Community development director Mark Leidal agreed, saying the town is “adamant a subdivision be served by two access points.”
“(County Road) 2020 is the logical connection,” he said. “It’s yet to be seen if (the ranch) can be served from another location.”
Annexation proceedings for the project, now formally dubbed the Blue River Ranch and Club, ground to a halt in June when the Silverthorne Council voted to bring them to a stop. Progress on the club’s development plans had stalled for nearly two years at that point, and council members decided enough was enough and voted to halt the annexation process.
A sketch plan for the club, previously called Buffalo Mountain Village and then the Blue River Club, was approved in August 2000. From then until last June, the council – whose members said they wanted to see preliminary plans before annexing the land – continued annexation hearings on the development seven times.
Now, with a new developer in the mix, the project starts from scratch. That means approval of the August 2000 sketch plan no longer applies to the project.
Developers had scheduled the project for its sketch plan review earlier this week, then pulled it to fine-tune the application. That decision was driven, in part, by comments from neighboring property owners.
“Over the last couple of weeks, we have met with a variety of the surrounding neighbors – South 40, Hamilton Creek, Ptarmigan – and learned a lot about the sensitivities our neighbors have on the plan we’ve proposed,” said Sentex’s Matt Dean, the project’s manager. “At the same time, we received a staff report from the town with a list of conditions.
“We thought it would be best to address the surrounding neighborhood concerns and also address – to our best ability – the staff conditions, within a revised sketch plan. This is an effort to make this project a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.”
Dean expects developers will resubmit their sketch plan proposal by mid January.
Sentex Destination Properties is a second-home division of Sentex Homes, Dean said, adding that the company has worked extensively on resort community developments. He wants to see this project, now years in the town’s files, move along quickly.
“We’d love to be able to move dirt next summer,” Dean said. “My feeling is that that’s probably wishful thinking. I think fall ’03 would be the soonest we’d be able to actually turn dirt.”
Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at email@example.com
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