West Hills workforce-housing development deal nears in Keystone | SummitDaily.com

West Hills workforce-housing development deal nears in Keystone

On the heels of greenlighting a large expanse of new workforce-housing units in the Snake River Basin late last month, Summit County is working toward approving 66 more at a nearby property.

The Board of County Commissioners is collaborating with Summit Homes Construction to begin building townhomes at an 11.5-acre site being labeled West Hills on the north side of U.S. Highway 6 at Antlers Gulch Road in Keystone. The partnership stems from a development deal a year ago allowing the homebuilder to continue construction on two other land parcels within the basin.

In return for the board amending the guiding zoning regulations to allow Summit Homes to complete market-rate projects at The Alders and Brown's Cabin developments, Tim Crane of Summit Homes committed to building 25 for-sale workforce units on his dime. After a review of a potential location, the county resolved to construct another 41 for-sale units in a second phase with the option of having Crane erect those, too.

The proposal calls for three triplex and eight duplex buildings from the Summit Homes commitment within the first phase. The units will be a mix of two- and three-bedroom townhomes of about 1,150 square-feet. Each also has a one-car garage.

For the county-produced properties, it will constitute three triplexes and 32 condo-style units with eight units each per four of those buildings, which feature a one-car garage as well. All of the units will be compatible in architecture and construction with the neighboring Antlers Gulch Townhomes, which Crane also built.

All 66 units, to be positioned on 8 acres of land, are for-sale properties so as not to compete with the rentals just down the road at the forthcoming Village at Wintergreen. The county spent the last year negotiating with Vail Resorts, Inc. and development partner Gorman & Company to come to terms on the 196-unit complex made up of year-round, low-income rentals and seasonal apartments.

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Until December 2016 when the West Hill application was formally submitted, the site of the properties remained undetermined. Now decided, the location has had its own hang-ups as the county finalizes ownership.

The designated tract is known as Parcel D on the Wintergreen property currently owned by Vail Resorts. That guiding document for the basin, however, requires that upon request Vail Resorts must surrender the land over to the county, but for the purpose of either open space or an elementary school. The county wants to build the new employee units there, which necessitates Vail's consent, so wrapping up conveyance of the land has come with red tape that's caused delays.

"Since that Summit Cove site has been developed the school board recommends that we do not use this site for an elementary school," said Summit County planner Sid Rivers. "The county has been working diligently with Vail to obtain the deed to the property. Hopefully that happens soon."

The county board approved a two-week continuance to its next regular meeting in the interim while its staff concludes that transfer process. Once that happens, though, the homebuilder said he's almost immediately ready to go.

"We're actually ready to submit, just as soon as we get the green light," Crane said at a public meeting Tuesday. "If all goes well, then we'll be in the ground by the end of August, that's our goal. Hopefully all the stars align and we can make that happen."

Ahead of the West Hills presentation Tuesday afternoon, a debate flared up over the rezoning of a 23-acre housing development located in the Upper Blue Basin. The public hearing surrounding the Trails at Berlin Placer project lasted more than two hours as attorneys on opposing viewpoints pleaded their cases to the county board over the merits of the 14 market-rate, 22 workforce-unit plan in Breckenridge.

The contention between the two represented parties mainly rested on the desperate need for housing in the county versus the potential impacts to that undeveloped, rural area's wildlife, ecology and forest. Tree thinning would be required if the project goes forward to reduce potential for wildfire.

"We're definitely looking at health, safety and welfare, bottom line, and we're also looking at balance," said Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier. "We all love trees, but they are dangerous for fires, so balancing where you keep trees and where you cut down trees is always competing interests."

The board approved a two-week continuance for that proposal until June 27 as well.