In what was likely anti-climatic for many of the 140 or so residents who gathered at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds for the Feb. 21 special meeting on the Centerville Ranch sketch plan proposal, the public hearing was continued again, to March 12. The continuation, said Board of Commissioner Chair Greg Felt, was to allow time to absorb new information about the project.
Owner/developer Jeff Ince had submitted a new proposal to the county that day, further reducing the number of proposed residential lots on the 940-acre parcel to 133 total lots.
The proposed sketch plan for the Centerville Ranch Major Subdivision was originally a 210-lot plan ranging in size from one acre to 8.4 acres, broken into 12 filings. The lots are situated on the meandering ridge lines of the ranch, located to the east of U.S. 285 across from the Centerville Sugarshack and just south of the historic Centerville Cemetery.
“We got a revision reducing the number of lots from 210 to 160 lots Feb. 14 and we got a second revision this morning, making a further reduction to 133,” said Felt. “This hasn’t been closely reviewed by staff yet. The staff recommended, and the applicant has agreed to a continuation of this hearing for staff to review the new revision. We are empowered, maybe even advised, to run an amended application back to the planning commission.”
Normally when a continuation is agreed to, the meeting stops at that point. That did not happen Thursday.
“We should move forward with the continuance, and step outside protocol and allow folks to talk if they want to,” said Felt. While at first, it appeared that dozen’s of those present wanted to address the commissioners about the sketch plan proposal, it soon became apparent that people entering the meeting had simply signed their names to what they thought was an attendance sheet, not a speaker list. Others wanted to wait to learn more about the revisions to the plan. A large number of those who had signed up waived their right to speak.
Felt began the session acknowledging that commissioners have already received considerable public comment. “A lot of the comments has been opposed to the project presented,” said Felt, who said he’d made a list of issues that have already been brought to their attention. He then went on to elaborate on more than 20 written concerns they have received to date.
“Those issues include physical groundwater and sustainability, the impact to neighboring wells, impact on sight lines and water and sewer system, impacts on water quality to neighbors and the Arkansas River.” Adding impacts to wildlife corridors, scenic byway impacts, view shed for visitors and residents, views of Brown’s Canyon National Monument, traffic impacts and traffic in Centerville and those who anticipate complaints from new homeowners for the shooting range and county landfill.
“We got letters in with concerns about the physical impacts for law enforcement, fire protection and taxpayers subsidizing the extra costs. There were letters concerned about the big undeveloped tract and how to protect it. Others are concerned about the overall impact to the agricultural community and the economy by removing an ag property from production, and others pointed out the historic buildings on the property” said Felt.
“Then there are letters about other impacts – that said the sketch plan isn’t in line with the comp plan, that the land use code isn’t in alignment with the comp plan, that the land use code has components in conflict with the code itself, that it’s not in alignment with the (Ballot initiative) 1A programming and not in line with the Envision process. Other brought up the need for moratoriums. We’ve read all the public comments.”
Public comments continued in the concerned but respectful vein demonstrated during the Feb. 14 meeting. Behavior that Felt said was commendable. “This is a sketch plan. There are a lot of steps past this point in a plan approval. During the earlier county meeting, despite how it was portrayed, I felt it was congenial. My point is that I was proud of our county.”
“On the water issue, we’re facing a triple storm of increasing population density and a sort of lack of thorough knowledge of the hydrology of the specific region,” said Kent Wood. “We’ve got a climate change issue too. We don’t know whether the past is a good guide to the future.”
“In my opinion, the Centerville subdivision should construct a central water distribution system,” said Ralph Lindberg who said he lived two miles west of the proposed subdivision. Second, to minimize contamination issues in years to come, they should have a central sewer system.”
The 5 p.m. March 12 special meeting, continuing the public hearing, will also be held at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds.