Silverthorne approves rebuilding of wetland
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
SILVERTHORNE ” The Silverthorne town council granted a developer permission Wednesday to reconstruct a wetland on town property after the company’s first mitigation project on that land failed.
The construction of the initial wetland, known as North Pond Park, was a requirement of a 1999 permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in conjunction with building the Ponds at Blue River Development. The developer Western Skies also built a second wetland, South Pond Park, to comply with the requirement.
The town council vote came two years after the Army Corps informed Western Skies by letter that North Pond violated the permit. The letter states that the site does not function as a wetland. “Specifically, the site does not meet the hydrologic, vegetation nor soil requirements,” it reads.
At the meeting, Brian Thorsen of Western Skies described the reasons the initial wetlands failed, citing holes that were not dug deeply enough, liners that did not properly hold water, the use of seeds instead of grown plants and a severe drought. He presented a revised design for council approval, which includes deeper holes, better lining and plants instead of seeds. He said a representative from the Army Corps indicated support for the design.
“We are anxious to get this built,” Thorsen said.
Silverthorne Senior Planner Michael Johnson said he thinks the plan has a reasonable chance of working.
Councilmember Stuart Richardson suggested the elevation marked on the plans could be off by as much as 200 feet, questioning the integrity of the design.
During a public comment period, resident Stinky Steinbrink provided the council with photographs of South Pond Park, the second mitigation project required by the 1999 permit. The Army Corps has not found the area in violation. Steinbrink said that the developer had suggested at a previous meeting that the South Pond was thriving, but that the photographs reveal another failed wetland.
“He’s got to correct one, and the other one he’s going to walk away from,” Steinbrink said, adding that the wording of the council’s approval should ensure that the North Pond wetland reconstruction job is completed.
After seeing the photographs, some council members suggested Western Skies should also improve the South Pond.
“If the South Pond does not work efficiently, you should do the right thing and fix it,” Mayor Pro Tem Peggy Long said.
After the meeting, she added: “Mr. Thorsen has not been a real good player in our community to date. The failure of this wetlands is an example of his lack of concern for the project he put in.”
Thorsen said the wetlands reconstruction project had not yet been scheduled and had no further comment, when reached by phone after the meeting.
Johnson said that since the permit was granted in 1999, policies have been changed in hopes of better holding developers to their commitment of wetland mitigation. Now developers are typically required to comply with mitigation requirements before they gain final building approval.
The council approved the wetland plans on the conditions that the correct elevation be confirmed and the developer maintain the mitigation site until the Army Corps accepts it as a successful wetland, which could take two to five years.
Silverthorne will now have an Art in Public Places Program, after a unanimous council vote to accept the proposal. The program will allow the town to accept and manage donations of art to be displayed inside public buildings or on public land.
The proposal came about after an artist approached the town last year to donate art for the Skate Park. The town had no policy in place at the time to accept, place, maintain or remove public art.
Silverthorne has not budgeted to commission art for public spaces, so the policy focuses on handling donations. The SPORT Committee and town staff crafted the policy from several existing programs in other areas.
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