Silverthorne fire station site plan gets approved, yet the planning process remains in the works

Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News
The new Silverthorne Summit Fire & EMS station site plan gets approval from planning commission.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

The Preliminary Site Plan to construct a fire station in Silverthorne on Blue River Parkway was approved Tuesday night by the town’s planning commission.

The long-awaited station is finally on its way to Silverthorne after almost two decades of discussion.

Concerns in the community over the lack of a station in Silverthorne helped propel the advancement of what will be the fifth Summit Fire & EMS station in the county. It will be the only single-floor fire station in Summit County.

The hope is to break ground in the beginning of 2024. 

The most recent estimate of the project cost came this spring and should fall between $6 and $8 million

 It is slated to be on the east side of Colorado Highway 9, also known as Blue River Parkway, across the street from the Eagle’s Nest development and Raven Golf Club.

The fire station planners are currently in talks with the Colorado Department of Transportation about the possibility of a stop light in the area. In the planning commission meeting, Chief Davis noted that there will just be a flasher to help stop traffic to help the fire trucks get on the road, at first. 

The town of Silverthorne received a CDOT grant to help develop safe streets and sidewalks throughout town in addition to being a part of CDOT’s I-70 corridor study. The town and Summit Fire plan to use the study’s results and recommendations from both of these groups to help inform the need or the feasibility of a stoplight near Highway 9.

As it stands now, the plot of land is vacant. Silverthorne town staff noted that previous staff members built a recreational path through the property, Blue River Trail, anticipating that nothing would be built on the land. The easements associated with the Blur River Trail and Silverthorne’s landscaping code were a topic of concern for the planning commissioners. One commission member voted not to approve the finalized site plan because of these reasons.

Town code and fire-wise standards currently conflict with the plans. These kinds of fire standards are a newer concept, hence why many municipalities do not consider them in their code, that aim at reducing wildfire risks. 

Currently a nearly bare lot, town code would require 27 trees and 40 shrubs based on the classification of the facility. Summit Fire & EMS said this does not adhere to fire-wise standards. 

The town and Summit Fire & EMS demonstrated a willingness to find middle ground on the matter at the planning commission meeting. It was explained to the planning commission that the community development director, under town code, has the opportunity to approve alternative methods for landscaping a site. 

The constant collaboration between these two entities was emphasized to reassure the planning commission that middle ground could be found. 

Planning commission members showed hesitancy toward the concept. Members pointed out that governmental entities and services should be held to the same level of accountability as constituents. The argument was stated as: “We do not bend rules for constituents. Why do it for a fire station?”

Staff explained that changes made to the project could result in a code revision to incorporate fire-wise standards as opposed to bending the code for the station.

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