Planning tables Villages

Traffic, water pressure among town's concerns

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Hard or soft trails, road medians and park space were just a few details the Hayden Planning Commission pondered Thursday while reviewing the sketch plan for the 93-acre Lake Villages Subdivision.

The Planning Commission tabled the sketch plan for the project proposed west of Routt County Road 53 and south of the Sagewood subdivision.

"We want clear direction for these folks -- that's your job," town planning consultant Tim Katers told the commission at the beginning of the meeting. "Don't leave this phase unless you're ready for them to go down the road."

Lake Villages would include about 137 single-family lots, 18 duplex to eight-plex lots and 21 commercial lots. A 3.5-acre lake would be in the middle of the subdivision, which also would include more than two miles of trails and a large park.

The project is the first phase in The Villages at Hayden project, which ultimately may have 1,400 single-family homes and condos.

The Villages is a version of The Sunburst Ranch project proposed by the 4S Development about a year ago. Most of the partners from that group want to build a similar project intended to provide more affordable housing in Routt County, said Ron Sills, who is part of West Routt Properties.

Most homes in the subdivision will be roughly $200,000, said Sills, who emphasized the commission needed to keep in mind how various additions and changes might affect home costs.

"We are willing to do as much as we can to make this a nice area," he said. "We just have to keep in mind costs."

Katers said Lake Village is a "clean slate" -- previous Sunburst Ranch plans have no bearing on the project. At the same time, he said the new plan seeks to resolve potential traffic issues in the Golden Meadows and Sagewood subdivisions, which were among residents' concerns in the Sunburst Ranch reviews.

"They're listening to what was said in the past and within the limits of topography are trying to address it," Katers said.

Traffic and roads

Questions remained about Lake Village traffic on Harvest Drive, Poplar Street and C.R. 53.

Developers altered their original sketch plan to include six access points from the north, west and east sides of the subdivision. The main access, intended to funnel traffic from later growth, is a boulevard connecting Lake Villages to C.R. 53 near the south end of the development.

Town Manager Russ Martin suggested that developers consider moving the boulevard toward the middle of the subdivision, where it will create a four-way connection with county roads 53 and 37.

Martin and commission chairwoman Donna Hellyer also emphasized that traffic studies would be needed to determine how residential streets and C.R. 53 will need to be improved to handle projected traffic loads.

The commission also questioned the need for a 24-foot-wide island in the middle of the boulevard, intended to provide space for cars to pull out into the roadway while waiting to make a left turn.

"They look good but are maintenance intensive, and I don't know how practical they are," vice chairman Tom Rogalski said.

Martin said the islands could have a hard surface instead of landscaping and also could be engineered to help with drainage.

Rogalski and commission member Karl Koehler also wondered whether the wide boulevard and island were overkill.

"We're looking at the big picture, but what if it doesn't become the big picture?" Rogalski asked.

The commission decided an island, 12 to 24 feet wide, should be constructed as an entrance feature from C.R. 53 and be extended later if needed.

Trails and parks

Surface-types for the subdivision's trail system evoked considerable discussion among commission members, who wondered whether expensive concrete trails were necessary in addition to detached sidewalks already planned in the project.

Katers suggested that crusher fines, small angular pieces of rock used as the surface of the Dry Creek Park trail, might be suitable in Lake Villages, especially around the lake.

Some commission members encouraged developers to start with crusher fines and apply concrete later if needed, but development partner Tom Heuer emphasized that it's best to do concrete while equipment is in place during development phases.

Commission member Andrea Hayden emphasized that developers should do it right the first time and build concrete sidewalks.

During public comment, however, residents Tammie Delaney and Joni Shafer noted that a soft surface trail would be more appropriate for horseback riding and also would extend the town's Nordic trail system in Dry Creek Park.

Resident Gordon Dowling said he was concerned about the 10-foot width of the proposed trail.

"All I'm going to say is half the kids in the town will be out there on their four-wheelers," he said.

The commission will consult with the Hayden Recreation Board on the issue but also asked developers to consider using concrete on the main part of the trail and crusher fines on other parts.

Lake Villages will have about 19 acres of open green space, according to the sketch plan. The main park would be in the south-central part of the development and would include a 1,200-square-foot pavilion overlooking the lake. Developers also are considering tennis courts and a skateboard ramp among other amenities.

The commission suggested developers also build a small pocket park or sitting area in the north part of the subdivision. The Recreation Board also will provide input on the parks issue.

Larger issues

Another important issue is the town's ability to provide adequate water pressure to the first and subsequent phases of The Villages at Hayden project. Martin requested that developers' engineers provide more information regarding phasing of the project in relation to water pressure needs.

The Planning Commission also wants developers to provide more information about the types of businesses that would occupy the commercial lots.

Developers have said the lots are intended for light industrial and possibly an equipment storage lot. Commission member Kevin Copeland was concerned about the visual effects of equipment storage and other businesses in the commercial area, proposed in the southeast corner of the project, next to C.R. 53.

Martin also wants developers to clarify how the project will pay for itself. He is concerned that lots would be developed prematurely with no homes to provide tax dollars supporting infrastructure maintenance and replacements.

"The clock is ticking on the developments we have already," he said.

Sills said West Routt Properties plans to build most of the homes in the development. Potential buyers will choose a new home based on four models, and on-site banking services will be available to provide financing.

"Our concept is totally different than what has been happening in the county," he said.

Martin stressed that the developers' concept was very helpful and should be available to the Planning Commission in written form relating to the sketch plan.

Although developers were hoping for sketch plan approval, Martin emphasized the group will save time and money by confirming big issues in the sketch plan phase.

"If we get this right now, other issues will fall into place much more quickly in the preliminary and final plats," he said.

Hellyer emphasized additional details are important not only for the Planning Commission but also for the town.

"If those issues are clarified, it will be much more acceptable to the community," she said.

The Planning Commission may see a revised sketch plan for Lake Villages at its next meeting Feb. 10.

The Hayden Recreation Board's next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 8.

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

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