Sagewood project set to move ahead

Town and developer hope lawsuit will be resolved soon

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— Although the proposed Sagewood development is on hold because the town and developer are embroiled in a lawsuit, both sides are hopeful the issue will be resolved soon.

The lawsuit was filed by developers late last year to try to force the Town Board to approve Sagewood's development plan without $52,000 in impact fees that it has stipulated as conditions of approval.

"I think they could have a great project up there, it's an attractive and livable area and a valuable development. But, I commend our elected officials for sticking up for the need of off-site improvements," Hayden Town Manager Rob Straebel, said.

Sagewood developer Tom Hallin said he'd like to put the lawsuit behind him and move on.

"We'd like to move forward," he said. "Maybe we can get this thing resolved sometime this summer. I understand the court processes can take a long time but I'm certainly hopeful."

Negotiations began to break down during the development's approval process when the town and the developer's representatives disagreed on the need for off-site improvements.

The Town Board and Hallin hired Transplan Association Inc. of Boulder, an engineering consulting firm specializing in traffic studies, to study the off-site impacts of the proposed 65-home development in Filings 5 and 6 of Golden Meadows.

Transplan found that the adjacent street network and site access is adequate to accommodate traffic increases in the area, but the company recommended safety improvements at the Breeze Basin and Third Street intersection as well as the corners of Poplar Street and Jefferson Avenue.

The Colorado Department of Transportation agreed to foot the bill for a $13,500 traffic signal at the corner of Poplar and Jefferson, but the town will have to pay the estimated $250,000 for improvements to Breeze Basin and Third Street. Consequently, Town Board members asked Hallin to pay for 20 percent of the improvement costs because the new development accounts for approximately 20 percent of the total growth possible in the Golden Meadows area.

"This was clearly not a capacity issue but a safety issue," Straebel said. "We weren't willing to compromise safety issues at the intersection and asked the developer to help pay for the needed improvements. The off-site impacts were too great for approval."

Hallin and his Golden Meadows 5-6 development company filed a civil law suit in Routt County Court in late 1999 to try and force the town of Hayden to approve the proposed development.

Hallin is disputing a $52,500 off-site impact fee the town requested his company pay in order to develop the land a fee board members unanimously agreed was needed to accommodate safety concerns at the intersection of Breeze Basin and Third Street.

Golden Meadows 5-6 representatives objected to being strapped with the costs of safety improvements to the Breeze Basin and Third Street intersection. A traffic consultant that they brought to a Town Board meeting argued that, while such road improvements may be necessary once all of Golden Meadows is developed, the increase in cars on the road due to Sagewood alone would not require the upgrades.

Hallin and his group first approached the town Planning Commission in March 1999 with the proposal for the new development, characterizing it as an opportunity for affordable housing.

Affordable housing is an issue that Town Board members agree must be dealt with in the community, but board members said they are not willing to compromise public safety for the sake of lower-priced housing developments.

"The developer approached the town with this as an affordable housing project. I guess it depends on what your definition of affordable housing is," Straebel said.

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