Preservation allows for higher density

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A recent change to the Land Preservation Subdivision ordinance prompted developers Andy Daly and Bill Butler to change their plans for Alpine Mountain Ranch, a new luxury home development just south of the city limits.

The ordinance change, which Routt County commis--sioners signed March 21, could allow the developers to add density to the 1,216 acres of land they purchased for $19 million last year. Alpine Mountain Ranch is east of Priest Creek Ranch and north of the Catamount Ranch & Club.

Instead of 43 luxury homes on separate 5-acre lots, developers are proposing 63. Daly, who was president of Vail Resorts from 1982 to 2002, said that is contingent on county planning commissioners agreeing it is in line with the ordinance changes.

Under state law, developers historically have been allowed to develop houses on 35-acre pieces of land to preserve open space. The LPS is intended to allow for even more open space by increasing the density of developments. Developers are awarded an additional building lot for every 100 acres of "remainder parcel" or open space.

The original plan called for 900 acres of open space to be set aside as preserved land. That open space allowed them nine additional "bonus" lots that will go for about $1 million each, Daly said.

The ordinance change was encouraged in part by the Yampa Valley Land Trust. The ordinance now provides additional incentives to guarantee open space.

The change is part of a pilot program that the county adopted to encourage the transfer of development rights, particularly in the South Valley area.

Before, the open space had to be connected to the development.

To secure open space on the valley floor, developers can buy development rights from that land and count that as open space. Daly is proposing 20 additional building lots contingent on the building rights being transferred from the unconnected valley floor land.

"Before, you would have to buy land that was abutting and contiguous to this lot," said Chad Phillips, assistant county planning director.

Daly would wait for approval from the county before purchasing the land from the valley floor.

"We look at it as a point of view that the valley floor is an icon for the Steamboat area," said Daly, who said he spends about half his time in Steamboat. "It captures the historic character of the valley. It's a tremendous move by the commissioners to preserve that heritage."

Daly said he does not think there would be any major financial advantage to buying the building rights from the valley floor and transferring them to the Alpine Mountain Ranch. He praised the county for providing a development option for the valley floor.

"(There is) some question as to how successful it's going to be, but I think it's a great first step," Daly said.

The LPS, and a conditional use permit for a caretaker home are expected to go before the Planning Commission in May.

Before Daly and Butler purchased the land, developers in the early 1990s had hoped to construct a high-density resort village.

A chairlift was proposed to connect the development to the mountain. Daly said after they purchased the land, they never considered such a use.

Prudential Steamboat Realty and High Mountain Sotheby's International Realty plan to start selling Alpine Mountain Ranch lots soon. A rollout party for the development was Friday at Hazie's.

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