Summit County: Property values key for Blue River in plan update
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE – As the update of the Joint Upper Blue Master Plan moves forward, the Town of Blue River is standing firm on a set of provisions intended to protect the town from property tax losses in the future.
The conditions would protect Blue River from policies in the updated master plan that might lower home values and threaten the town’s most important source of revenue.
With the provisions, Blue River officials specifically target deed-restricted (affordable) housing within town limits, which have been shown to devalue property, saying the town already offers the most affordable housing options in the area without deed-restricting.
“We are the affordable housing in the Breckenridge area,” Blue River Trustee Larry Nelson said. “We are the bedroom community.”
Blue River operates on a budget of just over $1 million, approximately 72 percent of which is funded by property taxes.
The Upper Blue Basin includes unincorporated Summit County from Farmer’s Korner to the Hoosier Pass summit as well as parts of the towns of Breckenridge and Blue River. The master plan serves as a guiding document for planning and development in the basin, used by the Upper Blue Planning Commission, the Summit Board of County Commissioners and the planning commissions and governments of Blue River and Breckenridge as a reference for planning decisions.
Breckenridge, Blue River and Summit County officials began working late last year on a full renovation of the Upper Blue master plan, which is now 13 years old.
But Blue River officials worry that unless the revised master plan prohibits it, the Town of Breckenridge, the county or private developers might buy buildings in Blue River for affordable housing and deed-restrict them, lowering the value of the property underneath and cutting Blue River’s property tax revenues as a result.
Without the provisions, Blue River residents could also be offered money to deed restrict their own homes with similar effects for their property’s value.
Nelson said the inclusion of Blue River’s provisions in the final document will be a key factor in whether the town signs on to the master plan.
Blue River’s participation in the master plan is important to the other Upper Blue players.
“We’re all living in the same fishbowl,” said county community development director Jim Curnutte. “We all live in the Upper Blue Basin. To have a joint planning effort is just an awesome thing.”
Blue River also asked to be exempt from any density reduction requirements in the master plan as a condition of its participation in the revised master plan. The density reduction policies would require governments in Upper Blue to kill the development rights on some parcels of land or encourage property owners to do so, as part of a team effort to keep the basin’s population low to protect the community’s character and quality of life. If all the development rights on a property are dissolved, the property cannot be developed or sold for development.
“The limited number of lots that the town does own, we need to preserve the right to be able to sell those if that’s what it takes to be able to continue do town business,” Nelson said.
Both Breckenridge and the county commissioners gave an initial nod to Blue River’s requests this week.
Officials will look at an initial draft of the Upper Blue Master Plan update in early March and are planning to host an open public forum to discuss the updated document later in the month.
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