Usable open space debated

Hayden Planning Commission wants term defined

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— In Hayden, all developers are required by town ordinance to set aside 25 percent of their land as open space, but the land they offer up is often land they couldn't develop anyway.

Developers offer steep hillsides, drainage and flood plains up as open space, and Thursday night the Hayden Planning Commission asked Town Manager Rob Straebel to better define what is usable open space.

The town ordinance is fairly vague, Straebel said.

Once the Planning Commission agrees on a definition of suitable open space, they will recommend an amendment to the town ordinance.

The need to winnow and define development requirements is a new goal of a Planning Commission preparing itself for Hayden's inevitable growth.

Though actual construction has been minimal, five development proposals have come before the commission in the past two years and one promises to double the size of the town over several decades.

The commission discussed the town's comprehensive plan at length Thursday night. The plan addresses guidelines for roads, water, sewer extensions, open space requirements and other infrastructure needs in the event that Hayden grows.

State statute demands that all towns have a plan for growth within three miles of the town's boundaries.

Two annexation requests Old Farm Village and Sunburst Ranch have come before the Planning Commission in recent months, making it imperative to decide how far the town is willing to stretch those boundaries.

"The consensus was that we are not interested in annexing any land outside of our urban growth boundaries," Straebel said.

The Planning Commission only has the power to make recommendations to the Town Board, which makes the final decision, but its recommendations still carry weight and could affect the future of one development in particular Sunburst Ranch.

The defined urban growth boundary stretches beyond the current town limit to the south and also includes land around Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

4S Development Limited, the developing partners of Sunburst Ranch, have asked the town to annex 682 acres of land into town limits. Three hundred fifty-six of those acres are outside of the urban growth boundary.

"If the town decides that they don't want to annex our development, we'll be forced to regroup," 4S partner Tom Fox said. "We're not ready to give up yet, but if this project is not something this community wants, we are not going to jam it down anybody's throat."

To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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