Safeway project comes back to town |

Safeway project comes back to town

SILVERTHORNE – The controversy surrounding Silverthorne’s proposed Safeway is bound to re-ignite next month when developers forge ahead with their next request for approval.

Shopping center developers Kornfeld-Koslosky Properties submitted preliminary and final plans for the project Friday, which is anchored by a 65,000-square-foot Safeway and accompanied by another 18,000-square-feet of adjoining shops. Three pad sites, planned for free-standing businesses, are also part of the plan.

The Silverthorne Town Council approved the center’s sketch plan in January.

The preliminary and final plans will show up in front of the Silverthorne Planning Commission in late May, at the earliest.

While the Safeway project is a hot topic, it is hardly a new one. The grocery store proposal has come before the council several times, first planned as part of Silver Mountain Village, a 72-acre mixed-use development that eventually lost steam along with its developers. Since that happened, Kornfeld-Koslosky – which has a contract to buy 11 acres for its commercial development – has moved ahead alone with its retail project.

The controversy that accompanies the plan stems from the project’s proposed site on the Smith Ranch, along Highway 9 between the Elks Lodge and Willowbrook subdivision. Few people dispute the need for a grocery store, but many say the privately-owned ranch is the wrong place to put it.

Some residents feel so strongly about the site they want to put the project to a vote. If the council approves the development, Eagles Nest resident Jim Shaw says he’ll lead a petition drive to create a referendum. Shaw would need to get the signatures of at least 5 percent of the town’s registered voters to create that referendum.

“We’re going to do everything we can to let the town have a choice,” he said. “I think the town is reasonably divided on this issue, so I don’t think there’s a problem in getting the number of signatures.

“It isn’t that we’re against a Safeway for sure, but if you’re going to change the character of Silverthorne that much – by moving a strip mall into an agricultural meadow – then more than four people ought to have to vote.”

Shaw referred to the four council members who have traditionally voted in favor of the development.

A potential snag is that the town’s charter doesn’t allow referendums on several issues, including the rezoning of property. The portion of the Smith Ranch on which the Safeway is proposed is now zoned agricultural. If council OKs the rezoning proposed along with the development, the land would be zoned as a planned unit development. Because it’s a rezoning issue, the council doesn’t have to allow a referendum.

“It would be up to the town council whether to accept that petition or not,” said Town Manager Kevin Batchelder. “I would suspect they’d weigh in on the side of respecting it.”

Developer Brad Kornfeld said the proposal is essentially unchanged from its original design, though all the buildings are situated lower on the parcel and so have what he feels is a smaller visual impact to drivers passing on Highway 9. Safeway’s architecture, which has been consistently criticized, has been beefed up from past presentations.

Kornfeld thinks the project has had enough scrutiny that both preliminary and final plans can be approved in one step.

“This project has been before the town and community for over 30 months now,” he said. “The site plan, anchor, access points, all of that remain substantially unchanged from when we first submitted this project 30 months ago.”

Kornfeld still hopes to break ground this summer or fall, with an opening in late 2003 or early 2004. While he earlier said Safeway’s contract with Kornfeld-Koslosky was tied to a 2003 opening, Kornfeld is negotiating to extend that timeline.

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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