Silverthorne brings up forest land swaps, development in nearby towns as possibilities for workforce housing |

Silverthorne brings up forest land swaps, development in nearby towns as possibilities for workforce housing

Units are under construction at the Smith Ranch neighborhood May 31. Silverthorne is at the tail end of building the workforce housing neighborhood and is already discussing new ideas for development because of an ongoing shortage of workforce housing in the county.
Photo by Sawyer D'Argonne /

The Silverthorne Town Council threw out ideas for affordable housing solutions at its work session Wednesday, June 9, amid countywide conversations about an increasingly scarce supply of affordable workforce housing.

Town Manager Ryan Hyland said that while Summit County, Frisco and Breckenridge were considering an emergency declaration, there was concern about whether such a declaration would be appropriate. He said the county is considering drafting a proclamation instead to raise awareness about the problem Summit County is experiencing.

Silverthorne Mayor Ann-Marie Sandquist said a proclamation would let the state government know what the housing situation is in Summit County as well as what steps the county and municipalities have taken to build workforce housing.

Council member Michael Spry said land continues to be an issue but that there is a massive amount of federal property around Summit County: the White River National Forest. He suggested some sort of land swap with the U.S. Forest Service.

“The White River National Forest is 2.3 million acres. What would 100 acres do?” Spry asked. “I know trying to get national forest property developed just ain’t happening, but … is there a different way to spin it? Are there land swap components? … Are there people looking at that type of opportunity or resource?”

Hyland said there are conversations happening with the Forest Service about leasing campgrounds in the winter for people who live in their vehicles but that there hasn’t been any push for development beyond that.

Assistant Town Manager Mark Leidal pointed out that the Forest Service has identified certain parcels as disposable but would require an exchange process. He said these parcels are a few plots of land on the west side of town that would be difficult to develop because they are steep slopes.

Sandquist suggested developing parcels in other areas of the county, such as unincorporated areas of Summit County, or other municipalities. She also brought up nearby towns — Leadville and Kremmling — where land is cheaper and suggested acquiring land in those areas to be used for workforce housing.

“I think everything is on the table right now,” Sandquist said.

Hyland said there are some open space areas between Silverthorne and Dillon or along U.S. Highway 6 between Dillon and Keystone that could be potential areas for housing.

“Those are hard conversations, but you end up in a different world,” Hyland said about developing protected open space. “Every angle that we can have a conversation around is potentially on the table.”

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