Hayden Kevin Bennett and Jim Engelken's first foray across the line to Hayden developers from Steamboat Springs City Council members was not pretty.
Thursday night's Hayden Planning Commission meeting was packed with landowners whose property adjoined "Old Farm Village," Bennett and Engelken's proposed 28-lot subdivision.
Most attendees were uncomfortable, verging on angry, that the property was being developed at all. One couple, who purchased their home two months ago, was told by their Realtor no one would ever build behind their house.
Though the property is still under contract, the list of resident concerns has already accumulated.
The first issue up for discussion was the two irrigation ditches, the Shelton and Walker ditches, that cross the development.
The presidents of both ditch companies were present at the meeting.
Before the planning commission meeting, Bennett met with both of the ditch companies and agreed to revise his original design.
"The lots are now a little smaller in one area and we widened the open space," Bennett said, but the Walker Ditch still runs through one lot in the revised plan.
The idea of homes so near to the fast-moving water of a springtime irrigation ditch brought out thoughts of children falling in and being swept away.
On Thursday night, the planning commission also heard a presentation from developer Paul Flood, whose 12-acre development will cross the Walker Ditch as well. If Flood's development, which is at the beginning of the review process, is approved, it would add as many as 25 new single-family homes along a once agricultural area near Routt County Road 53.
"Public access to the ditch scares us to death," Walker Ditch President Jocko Camilletti said. "Liability issues come with increased public access, but we have to take that chance."
Beyond the safety of homeowners' children, Planning Commissioner Garold Gilbert warned the ditches would eventually need maintenance by the ditch companies.
"They will bring in their backhoes to clean the ditches and leave piles of muck and dirt," he said.
In Bennett's proposal, the ditch access was listed as an amenity to homeowners. Old Farm Village will have water rights to the Walker Ditch.
Instead of using potable water, resident would be allowed to tap into the ditch to water their lawns.
Camilletti said the Walker Ditch was built long before the town of Hayden. With that in mind, both ditch companies asked that developers be required through paperwork to give proper right of way and other consideration to the ditches.
Bennett listened to the worries of all in attendance and promised his plans were not set in stone and he would be willing to work with the town on redesigning his current sketch plan.
When the dust settled from the ditch debate, residents began questioning the way Bennett and Engelken would build the proposed homes.
"They will be inexpensive, manufactured homes," Engelken said. "We will upgrade the exteriors. These are single-family homes that the average person can buy."
One man grumbled that local builders would find no jobs from the construction of manufactured homes.
"I'm not ready to go forward on this," Planning Commissioner Donna Hellyer said. "The ditch is bringing up a lot of issues and we need to look at our water. Do we have water for all these new homes?"
At press time, discussion was still ongoing over Old Farm Village, but Hellyer stressed, "The purpose of this meeting is not to make any decisions. Those will be made by the Town Board. We are just here to clarify the plans and address issues before they reach the board."
Bennett and Engelken will eventually ask for annexation of their development into Hayden before they begin building, but first, they must close on the purchase of what is still Martha Cannon's property.