Planner eases tension over Sunburst proposal

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After some debate, raised voices and frustrated looks, planning consultant Tim Katers got what he was looking for Thursday: a positive response from the Hayden Planning Commission and Sunburst Ranch developers.

Katers, of Katers and Associates in Loveland, was hired by the town to review problems the Planning Commission had with Sunburst Park North, the first phase of the planned 900-acre Sunburst Ranch subdivision.

"The Planning Commission (members) had several issues they knew they didn't like," Planning Commissioner and Town Board Liaison Lorraine Johnson said. "They just didn't know how to address them."

Katers asked Planning Commission members to describe their issues with Sunburst Park North.

Planning Commissioner Chuck VeDepo said his main problem was the lack of consistency in the sketch plans. He said the developers bring new sketches to every meeting.

Land surveyor Gordon Dowling, representing Sunburst developer 4S Development, responded that the only reason the plans are changed so often is because the Planning Commission requests the changes, and 4S has simply been following those requests.

Hayden residents Jack Giessinger and Don Johnson made comments in agreement with Dowling. Planning Com-missioner Tom Rogalski said he had concerns the 19 commercial lots proposed for the entrance to Sunburst Park North might be too many or in the wrong place. He also said that cars backing out of the subdivision's driveways and onto the main road could be a safety issue.

In response to Rogalski, Hayden resident Jeff Fry asked commissioners if they backed out of their driveways, and after nearly everyone said yes, he asked why that would be a concern.

Planning Commissioner Steve Morrison said many people back out of their driveways on Poplar Avenue, but it is still dangerous. He also said that many of residents back out onto low-traffic streets, whereas some of the development's streets are four-lane arteries to the rest of the 900-acre subdivision.

"This is a pivotal aspect of the project," Town Manager Rob Straebel said. "We want something we can be proud of."

Katers reflected Straebel's comment, saying that the approval of the sketch plans is important in regard to the rest of the development.

"I understand the frustration on both sides," Katers said. "But this is just a part of the process. It may not be pretty, but it's part of the process."

Katers said he saw problems with the road infrastructure, drainage, open space, trails and water supply.

"Hopefully no planner or Planning Commission in the world would approve the open space that exists now," Katers said. "It just doesn't make sense."

The sketch plans indicate small, scattered patches of open space. Katers said the open space needed more refinement but said he could not make a good judgment on how to proceed because the plans do not have enough context.

"I'm still wondering what (the developers) are thinking," Katers said. He offered to stay in Hayden for one or two days to rewalk the property in question with the developers and sit down with them and town officials to work out differences.

"I get stuff done," Katers said. "I'm not here to fritter away time."

"We've got to work together, so this is probably a good step," Dowling said.

Planning Commission members thanked Katers for helping in the resolution to the conflict.

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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