Heritage Park homes debated

County officials, public divided on initial plan

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— Routt County's needs for affordable housing and open spaces collided Thursday night in a discussion about Heritage Park.

At a meeting of the Routt County Planning Commission, local property and business owner Ty Lockhart presented a plan to build seven duplex housing units on two parcels of land near Christian Heritage School, on the west edge of the Heritage Park subdivision, about two miles west of Steamboat Springs. No action was taken on the presentation, which was given only to receive feedback from planning commissioners.

But the discussion dominated a meeting that also included initial approval for a feed and supply store in Phippsburg, expanded residential zoning in Milner, a permit adjustment for a country store in Stagecoach and a go-ahead for an emergency services communications tower near Hayden.

Lockhart said he hopes to build houses on vacant land adjacent to U.S. Highway 40 -- across Brandon Circle from Christian Heritage -- and directly east of the school. The two parcels were originally slated to be used for athletic fields, but Lockhart said "adamant opposition" from Heritage Park homeowners changed his mind.

"If the homeowners don't want fields there, we'll switch horses and put lots there," he told commissioners.

Heritage Park resident Kenneth Hamil argued that homeowners objected only to athletic fields that would be used heavily, as opposed to the lighter-use soccer fields that are part of the subdivision's development plan, and that houses should not be built on the parcels.

"These areas are already developed, as open space," said Hamil, one of four Heritage Park residents who spoke Thursday night. One resident said housing lots would have less traffic and noise than athletic fields, but two other residents opposed Lockhart's plan.

"I would never have bought my house (in February) if I had known there would be rental properties in my backyard," Judy Griffith said.

Planning commissioners were split on the issue, citing conflicting needs to provide affordable housing for the community and to preserve open spaces such as the two parcels.

"I frankly don't know how I would vote on this," co-chair Diane Mitsch Bush said. "The balancing act in Routt County is to find the greatest public benefit. I would need to see more information."

Lockhart said he didn't know whether he would return to the planning commission with a revised proposal for the parcels.

"Maybe I'll build a baseball field there," he said.

The commission also:

Allowed Steamboat realtor David Combs and landowner M.A. Compestine to re-zone two blocks of land in Milner as residential. Combs said with the re-zoning, he plans to build as many as 13 homes on 28 lots.

Approved a site plan for the Flattops Supply Store in Phippsburg. The plan calls for a 4,000 square-foot store on the corner of Pine Street and Colo. Hwy. 131.

Removed the Stagecoach Marketplace parcel from the Stagecoach Ski Area parcel, allowing developer Chris Wittemeyer to move forward with store plans and possibly begin building the store at the corner of Routt County 212 and Schussmark Trail within 12 months.

Amended a permit from the West Routt Fire Protection District to allow for construction of a propane generator, small building, and 20-foot-high tower about two miles northwest of Hayden, to improve communications between emergency services agencies.

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