Silver Mountain Village plan review continued
SILVERTHORNE – Progress on the Silver Mountain Village residential and commercial project was delayed another two weeks Tuesday when the Silverthorne Planning Commission voted to continue any motion on preliminary plans to its Oct. 1 meeting.
That means the plans won’t come before the town council next week, a review that had been scheduled for Sept. 25.
Planning commissioners said their aim is to give the developer more time to eliminate some of the many conditions attached to town staff’s recommendation for approval of the plans.
Bob Keiber, who moved for the continuance, said it’s important to proceed slowly with a project of Silver Mountain’s size.
“What we’ve got before us is probably a tie for the second- biggest development in the history of Silverthorne,” he said, adding that the largest project is Eagles Nest. “I think it’s a viable project, but not at this stage. I think we’re close.”
Silver Mountain Village is a locals-oriented neighborhood planned for the west side of Highway 9 at the base of Ruby Ranch. The 72-acre development is slated to include 11 acres of commercial space, anchored by a 58,500-square-foot Safeway, 181 affordable and market-rate, single-family townhomes and multi-family residences, a 10-acre school site and a one-acre child-care site.
The project has been years in the making. Two years ago, the sketch plan was OK’d, and a modified plan that included the grocery store was approved in January 2001. Sketch plan is the first of three approvals any Silverthorne project needs, followed by preliminary and final reviews.
Since January 2001, the planning commission had undergone some dramatic turnover. Of the commissioners present Tuesday – two were absent – only chairman Keith Schaefer was on board during the sketch plan reviews.
“This is their first exposure to it, and it’s a big project,” said community development director Mark Leidal.
But even the new commissioners had plenty to say about the project.
Commissioner Mike Cockrell said several requests the council made at sketch plan still haven’t been addressed.
“There is a lot of unfinished business that was supposed to have been done at this stage,” he said, going point by point through those items.
Cockrell also said the current emphasis of the project seems to be on the commercial portion and the new Silverthorne Elementary School site.
While shopping center developer Brad Kornfeld said his company and Safeway hope to have the entire commercial portion of the project completed by Thanksgiving 2003, the date for breaking ground on the residential areas isn’t set. In August, landowner Seminole Land Holdings gave the school district a deed for its 10-acre parcel, and Superintendent Wes Smith presented the district’s ideas for the building during the meeting. The comparatively short discussion on housing alarmed Cockrell.
“No timetable has been set for the affordable housing,” he said. “If this project has become a simple shopping-center-for-school-site swap, it should be presented as same.”
Cockrell wasn’t the only one who noticed the shift in focus.
“It seems to me the developers have been concentrating on the commercial and have let a lot of questions go on the residential,” said Commissioner Roseanne Shaw.
“Personally, we need a school desperately, affordable housing even more so,” said Ruby Ranch resident Jeff Bork. “It makes no sense to build a big commercial development when there’s no housing for the people that work there.”
Mixed in with the criticisms, however, were endorsements for the project.
“I think it’s time for this project to go ahead,” said resident Ray Blatnick. “The developers have been very cooperative and have worked hard. They deserve it. And it’s private property.
“We need all of it,” he said, adding that, as a Frisco Safeway shopper, he’s particularly interested in having a Silverthorne grocery store. “Almost every trip I take to Safeway, I see someone from Silverthorne that used to go to City Market.”
Summit Housing Authority Director Gordon Ferris said the developer deserves credit for supporting affordable housing.
“Seminole Land Holdings has agreed to give 20 lots in this development to the Summit Housing Authority,” he said. “That’s unheard of. This is a developer who has gone above and beyond to really reach the lower level of affordable housing. Police, firefighters … will be able to live among the people they serve every day.”
While not everyone supports the commercial aspect of the project, resident John Alhquist said people can’t pick and choose what they want to see happen.
“I’m a former economics teacher, and one of the lessons I tried to give early is, “There’s no free lunch,'” he said. “Everybody wants affordable housing. They want the school and daycare. But it’s not free. I think it’s a tradeoff worth making.”
In addition to the school site, the developer also is donating an acre for development of a daycare center.
Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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