S’thorne planners recommend Safeway | SummitDaily.com

S’thorne planners recommend Safeway

Christine McManus
Ultimately, Silverthorne voters will decide the fate of what will happen to the Smith Ranch. Presently horses graze on the hay fields which were recently harvested by Brad Smith under colorful autumn trees. Some community members want to preserve the view corridor, while other are anxious to have a local grocery store chain in their neighborhood.

SILVERTHORNE – The Silverthorne Planning Commission gave a half-hearted recommendation Tuesday night for the preliminary approval of a proposed Safeway near the new Target store several miles north of Interstate 70 on Highway 9.

The proposed “Shops at Silver Mountain Village” is seen as a potential cash cow for the town by some, rivaling neighboring Dillon’s City Market shopping center. To others in town, the 58,000-square-foot grocery store with several retail sites nearby, is an unwanted commercial development on a beautiful historic ranch.

The rezoning has been in the works for three years in various forms, splitting the community in half.

“The reality is, we’re loving or hating this project to death,” said developer Brad Kornfeld of Kornfeld Koslosky Properties in Denver. “You can decide to be proactive about the economic health of your community or you can continue to cower in fear. This is a vehicle for the future and without it, quality retail will bypass Silverthorne and will continue to go to Dillon and Frisco.”

About 50 residents attended the hearing. Of those who spoke, 11 opposed the project and four were in favor. Many said they were concerned about adding commercial development in a slow economy. Others wanted a grocery store back in town, after the City Market went to Dillon several years ago. Several shops in Summit Place Shopping Center have closed this year, and the Silverthorne Factory Outlets are struggling compared to booming business in the 1990s.

“We would not be wasting our time and money if this were not economically viable. Look at Dillon Ridge, it’s full. Look at Frisco’s Safeway center, it’s full. Grocery stores bring spenders week after week,” Kornfeld said.

In an unusual move, Kornfeld upped the ante last week when he asked the town to give him preliminary and final approval simultaneously.

Late Tuesday night the commission voted unanimously to recommend a preliminary OK. But the vote was 4-3 against recommending final approval, with commissioners Mike Cockrell, Ron Barnes, Rosanne Shaw and Robert Kieber against final plans. Both the preliminary and final requests for approval of the rezoning from agricultural to planned development and the site plan will go before the Silverthorne Town Council on Oct. 8.

Dissenting commissioners said the plan, with nine conditions of approval, was not worthy of final status. Among the conditions are undesignated water rights, which developers have not officially promised to the town, in accordance with the town code. Wetlands mitigation also must be settled. The commission, town planners and developer hashed out a lighting agreement to avoid light pollution in the valley.

“Most of us agree Silverthorne needs a Safeway, we just want it in the town core. We don’t protest trees being cut down, but taking a community treasure and natural resource for easy tax dollars violates the community master plan,” said resident Mary Ellen Gilliland, citing numerous violations of the town master plan including view obstructions and traffic concerns.

Christine McManus can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or cmcmanus@summitdaily.com.

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