Tuesday, January 24, 2006
County commissioners had praise Tuesday for the developers of 62 rural estates that will change land ownership patterns but preserve some of the agricultural practices in the lower Elk River Valley.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Elk Mountain Ranch subdivision. It would create 62 5-plus-acre lots on 1,797 acres, leaving 1,325 acres of undeveloped land.
"The fact that we're able to preserve huge acreages in agriculture -- it's a wonderful thing," Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
Developer Jeff Temple said cattle and horses would continue to graze the property after luxury homes are built in four clusters on the property. Elk Mountain Ranch was created by the purchase of parcels from multiple owners in an area west of Steamboat Springs. It is bounded on the west by the Elk River and on the south by Routt County Road 42. The development was approved under the county's Land Preservation Subdivision Ordinance. It re--wards developers with more building sites than the minimum afforded under state law. In exchange, they agree to confine building sites to smaller areas within the overall site.
At the county's insistence, the developers have agreed to pave a portion of C.R. 42 from the entrance to Silver Spur subdivision to the entry gate of Elk Mountain Ranch. That section of road crests a steep hill. The developers have agreed to reduce the 11 percent grade on the hill to 8 percent by shaving its top and depositing some of the fill at the bottom of the road. Commissioner Doug Monger praised Temple's group for its willingness to bring the old road closer to modern standards.
"My main issue with this project has been C.R. 42 and that hill," Monger said. "I've called up in my nightmares the times I've been stuck there and lost a horse trailer. There are 20 families who already drive over that hill. I appreciate you guys helping us fix that."
Rancher Don Sherrod, who sold a portion of his extended family's ranch holdings to Temple and his investors, said he was uncertain whether he would continue ranching in the valley. He said it was necessary to sell some of his family's acreage to buy out siblings who left the area. Despite some misgivings, Sherrod acknowledged the development of the land was to be expected.
"It's not fair to sell (the land) for development prices and expect it to not be developed," he said.
Temple and his brother previously created a similar development south of Steamboat, Storm Mountain Ranch. It was on a smaller scale. Since then, Temple and a different group of partners developed Maytag Ranch near Salida. The homeowners association there owns a herd of 150 grass-fed cattle under the care of a ranch manager, Temple said.
At Elk Mountain Ranch, Temple has agreed to work with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to minimize the effects the development will have on elk, grouse and other animals that use the upland shrub habitat on the land.