Routt County Planning Commission members gushed about a proposal for a 1,717-acre land-preservation subdivision north of Silver Spur.
Members from the team that developed Storm Mountain Ranch are proposing 55 lots on 1,717 acres of land north of Silver Spur and off Routt County Road 42. Under the county's land-preservation-subdivision guidelines, the development, Elk Mountain Ranch, would have home sites on 346 acres and shared open land on the remaining 1,371 acres.
"It is very comforting that, finally, people are beginning to see what this planning commission wants and why we put this plan together," Planning Commission Chairman Don Alperti said. "It will be a site the county will be proud of."
The county's land-preservation-subdivision program allows developers to build more homes than what the state's standard 35-acre lot size would allow. In return, the developer agrees to have smaller and more clustered lots and leave the remaining land as open space.
Owner Jeff Temple and land planner Tom Braun worked together on Storm Mountain Ranch, which sits just east of Steamboat Springs off U.S. Highway 40. Temple's partners for Elk Mountain Ranch are Mark Hall and Jeff Jepson.
Planning staff said they anticipated the Elk Mountain Ranch would have the same quality and neighborhood goals as Storm Mountain Ranch.
"If it turns out anything like (Storm Mountain Ranch), this will be good," Planning Commissioner Bill Norris said.
On Thursday, the planning commission reviewed the preapplication for the development and commented specifically about the land-preservation-subdivision aspect of the proposal.
Also part of the planning process, the applicants will have to obtain special-use permits for an on-site gravel crushing and screening operation and water system and a conditional-use permit for a recreational facility.
In the preliminary plans, the gravel-pit location has not been determined, but it would be used for the construction of the subdivision's roads. The pit then would be filled with water and used as an amenity.
The recreational facility would include a lodge building and seven fishing cabins along the Elk River and an equestrian facility and employee housing.
The land, which sits on Kettell Ranch and portions of Sherrod Ranch, Selby property and Sammons property, ranges from the flood plains along the Elk River to the steep sloping hillsides west of Deer Mountain. The home sites are marked along existing irrigated meadows, grazing lands, hay pastures and dry-land crop areas.
"They did a good job of tucking the homes into the typography," County Planner Chad Phillips said.
The typical land-preservation subdivision lot size is 5 to 7 acres, but the developers are proposing that buildings be restricted on lots of 1 to 2 acres. Two of the homes had the potential to pose skyline problems, and planning commissioners asked that they be moved.
Planning commissioners ques---tioned the development's irrigation system and wildlife habitat.
The applicant is proposing to transfer some of the property's senior agriculture water rights to domestic uses. To replenish the water rights that are being taken from agriculture, the applicant is acquiring junior water rights for irrigation.
If there is not enough water to fill those junior water rights, the fields would dry up. Hydrologist Scott Fifer said that would be an unlikely scenario.
"We really want to do continued agriculture use out there. That is what our development is about," Fifer said.
Concerns also were expressed about the seven fishing cabins that were within the 100-year floodplain of the Elk River.
Planning commissioners also asked that a road proposed to run through a meadow be relocated.
-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org