Thursday, November 15, 2007

Subdivision at 360 Ranch (West of Steamboat)

Subdivision with a twist
Land preservation proposal goes before Planning Commission
By Tom Ross

Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Planning Commission will hear a proposal tonight for a rural subdivision on Routt County Road 42 that could foreshadow the future of the rolling farmland west of Steamboat Springs. Wilton Development’s 360 Ranch would create 11 homesites of roughly 5 acres each on a 355-acre tract formerly farmed by Frank and Dot Hussey. Wilton Development purchased the property, known as the L Lazy H Subdivision, for $6.74 million in February.

The developers are submitting their plans under Routt County’s Land Preservation Subdivision ordinance, which would award them two bonus lots above the nine they are entitled to by state law. The bonus lots are awarded in exchange for clustering the homesites on one portion of the property. The site is immediately west and on the opposite side of a mesa from the Steamboat II and Silver Spur subdivisions.

What makes the 360 Ranch proposal unusual is that the western boundary lines of two “remainder parcels” described in the permit application were carefully drawn to conform to the urban boundary delineated in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. The plan governs how the city could grow beyond its current limits.

Tony Connell, a partner in the project, confirmed that those lines were drawn so that in the event that the remainder parcels are annexed into the city in the future, they could be considered for more dense housing. “The land was chosen specifically with that in mind,” Connell said. He credited another partner, Randall Hannaway, a Realtor with Colorado Group Realty, for recognizing the potential of the property. Connell added that Hank Wilton, a resident of Virginia, is the general partner of Wilton Development. The company has offices in the 800 block of Lincoln Avenue.

Connell served on the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission in the late 1990s when the provisions of the original West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan were hammered out. Subsequently, he was the developer of the West End Village residential neighborhood where market-rate homes helped to subsidize affordable housing within the subdivision.
Connell is convinced that someday, the large homes that would be built on the lots at 360 Ranch could subsidize a denser community housing project closer to Steamboat II.

“It’s really exciting to me,” Connell said. “I think this one offers the same possibility. In fact, I know it does.” County planner Mitchell Harvey said the 360 Ranch proposal is on the consent portion of tonight’s Planning Commission agenda, meaning it could be approved with little discussion. However, any commission member could call it up for a full discussion of its merits.
Harvey said the proposal actually entails two components. In addition to a “Land Preservation Subdivision Exemption” that would allow the two bonus lots, the developers are seeking a conditional use permit in the ag/forestry zone district.
The permit would allow them to build indoor and outdoor hot pools with a building resembling a grain silo. There also would be a cluster of buildings at the entrance to the ranch on C.R. 42. They would include a caretaker’s residence, office and storage buildings.

Connell said no matter what transpires, the 360 Ranch LPS would always offer a large tract of open space that would remain in agriculture. He said the developers are consulting with representatives of the Colorado Division of Wildlife about planting a grain crop that would benefit wildlife such as cranes and grouse. Connell said that when the Husseys sold the property to Wilton Development, they retained their home on 35 acres.