Summit County eyes infrastructure needs for Lake Hill housing in 2017

Kevin Fixler
The 45-acre parcel is sandwiched between the Dillon Dam Road and Interstate 70. The county acquired it earlier this year from the U.S. Forest Service.
Courtesy of Summit County government |

After nearly a year of study, review and revisions, Summit County now has a draft version of the Lake Hill master plan in its hands and is moving toward finalizing the roadmap for the pivotal affordable housing project’s construction.

The document was presented to the Board of County Commissioners during a work session on Tuesday morning to lay out what the consultant team led by Corum Real Estate Group determined based on months of feedback and analysis from countless meetings, including three community open houses. The intent is for the enterprise to take a sizable bite out of the 1,685 units of local housing recently identified in a demand assessment that asserted crisis-level need throughout the county.

The master plan was originally scheduled for completion by the end of September, following the county’s last open house event on Sept. 7. County government chose to delay that release though, after the town of Frisco decided to host its own citizen meeting on Sept. 28 to address potential concerns from the housing expansion. The idea was to include those comments into the ultimate design recommendations.

Questions about added traffic congestion, trail connectivity, as well as potential water and sanitation impacts, were part of those discussions in Frisco. Early conversations between the county and the town located just south of the 45-acre parcel suggested plenty of capacity to service both the eventual development on top of current and future needs. But more questions have arisen as the project’s parameters have become clearer.

“There are some infrastructural issues there that do need to be resolved,” Don Reimer, Summit County planning director, explained to the county commissioners. “I think it’s a positive conversation. I don’t think that anybody’s saying we can’t do this or whatever else. They do want to make sure that they can accommodate all of their existing lands within the county as well.”

Talk of a potential Frisco annexation of the county parcel remains on the back burner at the moment. As town council considers Frisco’s long-term plan, however, which could include some redevelopment ventures — possibly increasing density by converting some single-family dwellings into multi-family units — it will want to ensure the town is prepared and secure.

“They’re just trying to do their due diligence,” said county manager Scott Vargo, “to make sure that they have a comfort level of what their community build-out looks like and then what this project looks like in addition to it.”

Nothing is set in stone at this point regarding gas or power lines, both of which already exist on the property. But preliminary discussions with Xcel Energy have resulted in the county’s understanding they can simply tap into both. Establishment of a regulating station will be necessary for gas, and the intent is to pull the power lines presently overhead underground ahead of any vertical construction.

To keep costs down, the property will ideally tie into both Frisco’s wastewater and drinking water lines, using the Frisco Sanitation District’s mains. The water tank located just east of the former U.S. Forest Service land also makes sense to use, though alternatives will remain available should Frisco eventually decide it doesn’t wish to offer up the essential resource.

Aside from infrastructural logistics, which for now is scheduled for 2017, Reimer confirmed a strategy of phased development once financing is established down the road. The 436 total units for Lake Hill as outlined in the master plan — containing a mixture of ownership between single-family, duplexes and townhomes, in addition to several multi-family complexes — would not be finished for about a decade. The first phase, projected to begin in 2018 with completion in 2022-23, would include 193 units — 21 single-family homes, 37 duplexes and 135 multi-family rentals.

Those targets are still subject to change as the master plan heads toward completion. If, say, the desire for ownership as opposed to rental properties spikes, or the community experiences a market downturn like that of 2009, then the proposal is flexible and can be adjusted.

“The first phase is pretty much set,” said Reimer. “We feel comfortable with what we can fit on the site, the number and breakdown of units, two parking spaces per, and the amount of open space we want to have. But this is a plan and plans do change, even if this is the guideline and roadmap for what we want the project to look like at this moment in time.”

A meeting between county staff and a stakeholder group is scheduled for early November to iron out other details. From there, the county commissioners are planning to meet with the Frisco town council in the middle of November to work together to settle on a final game plan.

“I do like the idea of a joint meeting with the town council to take a look at where we’re at and what do we think that we can in partnership do next,” said Commissioner Thomas Davidson. “We also have to continue to think about and identify other sites, and we have to make sure that we don’t drop the ball. So, lots to do.”

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