Our View: Homeowners should count their blessings

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If the homeowners in Heritage Park want to preserve the entry into their neighborhood as open space, we have a solution for them -- step up and buy the property from owner Ty Lockhart.

Otherwise, the homeowners' complaints about Lockhart's new housing plans there ring hollow.

Last week, Lockhart appeared before the Routt County Planning Commission with a plan to build four duplexes and three single-family homes on two parcels along U.S. Highway 40 between Christian Heritage School and Heritage Park.

The discussion was preliminary, so no action was taken. Still, Lockhart's plan got a chilly reception from Heritage Park homeowners, three of whom spoke against the plan.

Opponents want the land to remain as open space.

This isn't the first time that homeowners have opposed development plans for the area. Last year, Lockhart proposed three athletic fields -- a mixture of soccer and baseball fields -- for the area. The fields would have meshed nicely with the two soccer fields west of Christian Heritage School, and Lockhart was willing to lease the fields to the city for practically nothing.

The city received a $150,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to help pay for the use of artificial turf on one of the fields.

Lockhart's original plans for the Heritage Park subdivision, approved in 1999, included housing, a school and five athletic fields.

So the new ball fields shouldn't have been a surprise to homeowners. Still, Heritage Park residents complained, saying the fields would create traffic, noise and parking problems. Residents were particularly concerned that Triple Crown would use a new baseball field.

After meeting with homeowners, the city decided to scale back the scope of the project, reducing it to one field, a multi-purpose artificial turf field that could be used for lacrosse or soccer, but not baseball, effectively ruling out Triple Crown use of the field. The city has not yet decided to move forward with the project.

The Heritage Park field is the third artificial turf project proposed this spring. The school district is putting artificial turf on Gardner Field and an indoor artificial turf field is in the plans for a new recreation center. All three fields could be used for soccer, lacrosse or football; none could be used for baseball.

After hearing the opposition to his housing proposal at last Thursday's meeting, Lockhart said, "Maybe I'll build a baseball field there." Lockhart was kidding but his point is well taken -- he has permission to build a baseball field. But he would not do so without an agreement from the city to use the field.

Instead, Lockhart wants to build seven homes that will provide some affordable housing and will still meet the county's requirements for open space in a subdivision.

And because one of the parcels is owned by the Christian Heritage Foundation, the development also will help the private school in the development.

Heritage Park homeowners ultimately got their way on the athletic fields issue, to the detriment, we believe, of the larger community need. Instead of fighting Lockhart's new housing plan, they should be counting their blessings.

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