Planners to review first phase of Villages

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The Hayden Planning Commission on Thursday will review a sketch plan for the Lake Villages Subdivision -- a 93-acre development proposed south of the Sagewood II subdivision on Routt County Road 53.

The subdivision would comprise 155 single-family and multi-family lots and a 3.5-acre lake. It is the first phase of the Villages at Hayden project, which ultimately calls for about 1,400 homes and condos as well as a golf course.

The Planning Commission, however, isn't likely to approve the sketch plans Thursday. Town Manager Russ Martin is recommending that the commission table the plan, giving developers more time to clarify issues relating to access, utilities, phasing and other aspects.

"The issues are fairly large and complex and need a little more understanding of how they will be resolved. ... That will need a little more time," he said.

New plan, old vision

The Villages at Hayden project has been in the works for about five years and is a variation of the Sunburst Ranch project proposed by 4S Development. That project called for about 2,000 homes, an 18-hole golf course, lakes, trails and common areas.

The first phase of the plan called for about 230 trailer lots. 4S Development received a lot of negative feedback from neighbors who worried the park would hurt nearby property values. Others questioned whether the very visible site was appropriate for a trailer park, said Ron Sills, who is involved in the NCPH Trust, which owns about 40 percent of the Villages project.

Reorganization of partners involved in Sunburst Ranch resulted in West Routt Properties, the development team behind the Villages, which does not include a trailer park.

"I think now we are really getting into a phase where we have taken everybody's input into consideration, and we're ready to move forward," Sills said.

The entire Villages development likely would occur in eight phases. The first phase of the project calls for 137 single-family lots and 18 multi-family or condo lots. A new trailer park still may be in Hayden's future, but it would be in a different place, Sills said.

The development also would include 21 commercial lots intended for a self-storage complex as well as light industrial and commercial businesses.

In addition to a lake, the phase would have about 19 acres of shared open space and more than 2 miles of paved trails.

Like Sunburst Ranch, the project is intended to provide affordable housing to Routt County residents. Sills estimated most homes in the subdivision would be roughly $200,000. Some higher-end homes, mostly around the lake, will be about $300,000 to $350,000, he said.

"I think there are a small group of people that aren't in favor of this project," Sills said. "I don't think it's the entire town. ... I think that's probably true of any project."

The Lake Villages subdivision would be built within about 220 acres that have been annexed into the town. West Routt Properties asked last spring for the town to annex about 680 acres for subsequent phases. The town tabled the request in order to develop an annexation agreement, which will be reviewed by West Routt Properties on Friday, Martin said.

How if fits into town

The scope of the Villages prompted town officials last year to begin revising its comprehensive plan, which establishes a vision for growth in the community and helps officials make educated decisions regarding development proposals.

Using a grant from the Gates Foundation, the town hired the Winston Associates planning firm of Boulder to conduct an impact analysis gauging developments' effects on traffic, utilities and the town's budget. The town also used CommunityViz software provided by the Orton Family Foundation to understand visual and fiscal effects of growth.

West Routt Properties contributed about $69,000 to the impact analysis study. In addition to the study, the town held a series of community meetings last year to gather residents' feedback about how to preserve the town's character and what types of growth they hope to see in the future.

"We've tried to listen to what people have said both the negative and positive, and we have tried to do what the town wants," Sills said. "Ultimately, once this project is built out, it will be a part of Hayden, and we want it to be something they are proud of."

Considerations

West Routt Properties will have more work to do before the town is satisfied with plans for the project's first phase. One of the biggest concerns is access to the subdivision, which will be from Harvest Drive to the north and C.R. 53 from the east. Based on the subdivision's layout, Martin worries that the bulk of traffic will use Harvest Drive and Poplar Street to access U.S. Highway 40. Having two access points from C.R. 53 to the east might help ease traffic on residential streets, he said.

Some issues also relate to proposed amenities, mainly the lake and trail system. Although both are nice touches, the Planning Commission probably will want clarification regarding who will be responsible for maintaining those amenities. The town also needs to determine whether the amenities, particularly the asphalt trails, will be appropriate for that area.

Other more complex considerations are related to long-term issues involving the overall project. For example, although the town's pump station may have sufficient power to provide water to initial phases of The Villages, the town needs to make sure it will be able to provide water to the full development. It also needs to make sure there will not be problems with sewer line capacity after the project is built out, Martin said.

Martin also wants West Routt Properties to develop a written plan clarifying how Lake Village will be developed in relation to how quickly lots are sold and homes are built, Martin said, noting that some lots in Sagewood II are still vacant.

The concern is that the town will have to pay to maintain roads and other infrastructure in an empty subdivision.

If the Planning Commission approves the Lake Village sketch plan, developers may apply for a preliminary plan review. A public hearing will be scheduled in conjunction with that review.

Also Thursday, the Planning Commission with meet with planner Tim Katers, who is helping the town revise its subdivision code in conjunction with the town's updated comprehensive plan.

The meeting will occur during a work session after the commission's regular meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the work session.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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