Hayden annexation approved

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The Hayden Planning Commission approved a recommendation to the Hayden Town Board on Thursday to proceed with annexing 676 acres on the south side of town for a residential subdivision and golf course.

The annexation request received mixed reaction from Planning Commission members and residents during public comment, but the motion passed 4-2, with Planning Commission members Tim Watt, Alicia Tuck, Kevin Copeland and Andrea Hayden in support, and Chuck VeDepo and Chairwoman Donna Hellyer opposing.

Developers are requesting this annexation to add on to more than 230 acres in Hayden for a 900-acre, 2000-home subdivision, in which an 18-hole golf course is planned in the first phase. The subdivision, formerly known as Sunburst Ranch, will be called The Villages at Hayden.

Hellyer said she opposed the recommendation because she wants to see the impacts plugged into the town's CommunityViz model before moving forward. CommunityViz is planning software, which an outside consulting firm is using to create a model of the town to measure the impacts of projects such as this.

VeDepo said he opposed the recommendation because several people in the Hayden Community Video mentioned "slow and managed growth." The Hayden Community Video is another planning tool the town of Hayden is using to analyze how the residents want the community to grow.

"We have subdivisions currently that haven't grown out," VeDepo said. "There are a lot of empty lots, and I would like to see those fill out before we start growing out."

Tom Heuer, a member of the subdivision's development group, West Routt Properties, presented information about the project. He said the project would be built in five to six three-year phases and would include a community center.

Heuer addressed one of the Planning Commission's concerns by saying that water would not be a problem.

He said an aquifer below the property has sufficient water to supply all 2,000 homes, several planned lakes and irrigation of the golf course. West Routt Properties is filing for senior water rights from the state to use the aquifer's water, and those water rights eventually would be turned over to the town of Hayden, Heuer said.

In public comment, Hayden Economic Development Commission Vice President Don Johnson urged the Planning Commission to recommend moving forward.

"The Villages is a good project because the town will be dealing with just one developer" and the design will be contiguous, he said.

Hayden School District Superintendent Scott Mader said he also like the proposal, citing three specific reasons: The developers have said they would donate land to the district for a new school, designated homebuyer fees would help pay for a new school, and the size of the project would bring more students to the district.

In other business:

Developer Paul Flood received final plat approval of a 29-lot subdivision south of Hayden Valley Elementary School. The 4-2 approval came after a heated hour-long discussion about whether Flood should build sidewalks in the subdivision. Planning Commissioner Andrea Hayden proposed sidewalks, which the town code requires for such developments. Residents and Planning Commissioners said it was not appropriate to propose sidewalks at such a late stage in the planning process, especially because Flood has come before the commission many times during almost two years while trying to meet the commission's desires. "We should have caught this a long time ago, but we didn't," Planning Commission member Chuck VeDepo said. A variance was included in the approval to exclude Flood from the sidewalk code.

The Planning Commission approved the final plat of a rental car maintenance facility with the condition that the developer, Aaron Wiltfong, provide details of the operations at the facility.

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