Soda Creek proposal irks residents
SUMMIT COVE – A proposal to build six affordable deed-restricted houses on a parcel in the Soda Creek at Lake Dillon development in Summit Cove has nearby homeowners up in arms over allegedly broken promises and what they see as unwelcome development.
The small site – 0.7536 acres to be exact – has generated large opposition among local residents who feel the proposed development of three duplexes would detrimentally impact traffic flows, wetlands and quality of life in the area.
“We do not believe there is a reason to change the (planned unit development),” homeowners association president Russ Camp said at a meeting of the Snake River Planning Commission last Thursday.
A major planned unit development (PUD) modification would be necessary to permit the units since the lot, which is located about 90 feet to the south of the last building in Soda Creek, is currently zoned for a mail delivery facility and bus stop.
“The developer worked very hard at reducing density to make Soda Creek at Lake Dillon a better place to live,” Camp said. “(We) were told by the developer, Soda Creek LLC, that nothing would be built on this but mailboxes.”
However, any assurances homeowners might have received are now in dispute. The former owner of Soda Creek LLC, Bruce Jones, passed away early this year, leaving no documentation of such agreements behind.
The current owner, Jones’ widow Darlene, now desires to develop the land and maintains that no such assurances existed, according to her lawyer Mark Richmond.
To win rezoning, affordable housing is the only type of development that can be proposed as that’s the only way to get density on property where there isn’t any.
“I am totally unaware of any promise that he made to give that land to the homeowners association and I don’t know anything about it,” Richmond said. “I, nor any of the consultants that Bruce worked with, (remember an instance) where he failed to follow through with a promise.”
Camp, on the other hand, said Jones had gone so far as to draw up rough plans for the mailboxes and that his records consist of the minutes of a homeowners meeting where Jones presented his proposals.
But that’s not the only issue that concerns Camp and other local residents.
They say a higher-density development such as the one proposed would pose traffic safety concerns at the corner where the site is located and possibly degrade a wetlands area located on the property.
Senior county planner Lindsay Hirsh pointed to an unclear wetlands delineation in his recommendation that the planning commission continue the proposal for further discussion.
Hirsh said any development would hinge on a wetlands demarcation approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.
In defense of the development, Richmond said that many of the residents concerns could be addressed and that he felt the project would be beneficial to the whole area.
“There is plenty of room for both mailboxes and some affordable housing,” he said. “We’re trying to build a community. We’re not trying to ram this through.”
He said that the affordable housing proposal would help fill a countywide need and the underutilized land is a “logical site for starter homes.”
Still, other homeowners said they thought money was the prime motivation behind the project.
“I’m seeing dollar signs,” said one participant at the planning meeting. “All this open space we’ve got sitting there, we call it affordable housing S (and) we’re going to start chiseling away at it.”
Richmond said very little profit margins can be found in developing affordable housing.
Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or
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