Trail extension, public access to Bald Mountain Road added to Breckenridge-area neighborhood’s development plan

A passcode-accessible gate blocks the public from accessing the Ranch at Breckenridge neighborhood at the end of Fuller Placer Road near Breckenridge, pictured on July 15, 2022.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

The Summit Board of County Commissioners approved a motion to make minor modifications to the Ranch at Breckenridge’s planned unit development.

A planned unit development is a zoning document that outlines a property’s intended use within a certain area. The plan for the Ranch at Breckenridge was approved by county commissioners in November 1992, and it has not been modified since. 

Suzanne Sabo, principal of Allen-Guerra Architecture, purchased the 212-acre plot of land in the summer of 2021. Right now, only Phase 1 of the planned unit development has been built. 

Sabo bought it at the time of sale with the intent to fulfill the original purpose of the planned unit development — to develop a second area, refered to as as Phase 2, of the property. 

However, before Sabo could subdivide it, the county asked her to make amendments to prepare the area. 

Though amendments were proposed two weeks ago, the commissioners did not pass them due to a lack of information about a proposed trail change and complaints that came up during their meeting last week. 

A stand of pine trees are pictured near the gate of the Ranch at Breckenridge neighborhood at the end of Fuller Placer Road. The original development plan from the 1990s called for the connection of a trail called Spiral Staircase through the neighborhood, and its completion was approved by the county this week despite complaints from current residents living in Phase 1 of the development who are worried about trail traffic.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

The amendments proposed would modernize the planned unit development with fire mitigation, add trail easements, updates to road access and prepare the area for development on Phase 2. 

One of the trails, the Spiral Staircase Trail, was supposed to be finished in the 1990s as an agreement between the previous property owner and the county. The trail was never finished, which left it dead-ended at the border of the Phase 2 property. 

The idea in the original plan’s amendment from June 28 was to connect the Spiral Staircase trail through Phase 1. 

People who live in Phase 1 of the neighborhood who attended the meeting on June 28, however, were worried about the reallocation. They were concerned about traffic through the neighborhood after the trail was finished. 

“They didn’t want a lot of bikers riding down that super steep hill — Spiral Staircase is one of the steepest trails in the county — and destroying the environment and creating more erosion,” Sabo said. 

One member of the neighborhood brought a proposed plan that they believed would work better.

Even though the plan did have logistical advantages, Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she didn’t have enough time or information to make a decision, and Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue also denied the motion. Therefore, it didn’t pass.

Sabo said one of her main motivations when she bought the property, and why she agreed to make amendments to the planned unit development, however, was to give the trails to the county. 

To better understand Spiral Staircase Trail and the entire property, Sabo invited officials from the Open Space and Trails Department and the Summit County Planning Department to go on a hike at the Ranch at Breckenridge to better understand the area. 

While Sabo said she was disappointed it didn’t pass on June 28, she said the walk with officials after the June 28 meeting made it all worth it. 

A passcode-accessible gate blocks the public from accessing the Ranch at Breckenridge neighborhood at the end of Fuller Placer Road near Breckenridge, pictured on July 15, 2022.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

“I think it was a great thing because the site walk really opened everyone’s eyes to the possibilities of further trails that we could dedicate to the county,” Sabo said.

Sabo said that current director of Breckenridge Recreation, Scott Reid, came up with an idea for a bike loop through Phase 2 that wouldn’t interfere with areas where residents didn’t want bikes. 

Now, new trails are proposed that would allow Spiral Staircase to potentially be a hiking-only trail, with a different bike loop up on Bald Mountain.

In addition, Bald Mountain Road has been dedicated to the county. 

Before, Bald Mountain Road — a dirt road that is used by hikers, bikers, and others recreating in the area — was privately owned. Now the county has the right of way.

“It just means that (the county) has the right to have that road there, and really it’s used as a hiking trail, biking trail … so it’s a huge thing for outdoor enthusiasts.”

Sabo said now that the planned unit development is approved, she is planning on turning in the application to subdivide as soon as possible.

“That process will take a couple months, and hopefully we will be through that process sometime in the fall,” Sabo said.

She will be dividing the area into 16 different properties to sell. 

At the second July 12 county commissioner meeting, Jessica Potter, senior planner of the Open Space and Trails Department, outlined the new adjustments.

“There’s a ton of open space dedications with this, so Open Space and the county are pretty excited about this prospect,” she said. 

“I think it’s going to be amazing,” Sabo said. 

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