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In a marathon morning session on Tuesday, July 18, the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) approved several land use applications, including one that has had probably more than its share of debate over the past year; the Timber Creek Major Subdivision Final Plat, submitted by developer Walt Harder just prior to the county’s moratorium on processing major subdivision applications to allow time for the county’s Land Use Code (LUC) to be brought into alignment with the county’s new Comprehensive Plan.

While the decision was unanimous, it came at the end of a public hearing that had already been continued from July 11. That move allowed commissioners to review several hundred pages of documents related to the application, as well as an extensive list of conditions and findings of fact recommended by the Chaffee Planning Commission.

The motion made by Commissioner Greg Felt and seconded by Commissioner P.T. Wood: to approve the Timber Creek Ranch subdivision with the findings and conditions as recommended and finalized today, and to direct staff to prepare a resolution for approval at the August 1 BoCC regular meeting.

Commissioners spent a good deal of time reviewing the findings of fact and the conditions for approval, with much discussion over clarification of the use of water — especially what the use of the word “decreed” might mean in relationship to the water rights of the two ditches and assuring protection for the agricultural ditch (es) that will be designated to keep the open spaces watered and green (much of the direction contained in Condition 16).

Regarding the proposed shared wells for the subdivision, and the population each well could support, an extensive debate ensued regarding the number of people, or bedrooms that could be supported. The BoCC settled on a maximum of 12 bedrooms per well, which might include just single-family homes, or possibly some number of auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs) to be worked out among the property owners, and monitored by county staff.

While staff had concerns over adding to staff workload to monitor this, Felt said “We’re better at this than CDPHE. We want to say a little more than what you’re legally required to comply with. We’re trying to take an extra step here to protect the interests of the other people in this county. This language does not say you can’t have fewer, bigger homes … it’s total bedrooms per well.”

Commissioners also agreed that water use needed to allow for some small outside usage and expressed that revegetation should be with native grasses and xeriscape.

One major contention was thoroughly debated: whether the use of Yuniker Road could legally be designated as a second access point to be used only in an emergency. Others in the meeting voiced the opinion that Yuniker should remain as a designated road use that might play a role as future agricultural parcels to the west of this proposed subdivision might be sold and developed.

“When Longhorn was created, it was said that Yuniker was designated as future internal connectivity,” said Brady Becker. “We talked about what if there is future development down the road … this road was plotted as a connector.. creating this as a private road for Walt does nothing for future development.”

“The Chief of the Transportation Board did say it should become an emergency access road,” said Chaffee Principal Planner Greg Laudenslager. Harder said he supported its designation as emergency access.

Neighbors living in the Longhorn Subdivision expressed concerns over the traffic on CR 160 leading to and from the new subdivision and dangers to the neighborhood’s children who walk and bike along it.

Agricultural Subdivision Exemptions Approved

In swift order, the BoCC unanimously approved two agricultural subdivision exemptions: the Woolmington Agricultural Subdivision Exemption and the Jacobson Agricultural Subdivision Exemption.

“This looks like exactly what the agricultural subdivision is meant to achieve. No questions, it makes good sense,” said Felt.

Also approved, but with more discussion, was the Cleora Townsite lot line elimination application, redrawing the lots of this 150-year-old historic townsite in a manner that can accommodate modern septic systems, and if necessary, wells. Applicant and co-owner of the entire townsite, Jeff Post outlined the potential for the site.

The townsite is 54.5 acres;  33.5 industrial, and the rest is zoned recreational. “Development will only be on the industrial zone areas and there are no wetlands,” said Post. The lot line elimination will turn the 204 tiny historic lots into 71 larger lots of 2.4 acres, 31 lots that are about 1/3 acre, and the remaining 14 town lots combined into six lots that might include multi-family (but that would be predicated on the BoCC hearing a rezoning application on Sept. 5).

Post explained that the goal is to provide attainable housing by connecting to water and sewer which will cut the costs and that he is working on several possible concepts. “We’re working on a bit of technology to create attainable housing, I’m really excited about it. At the September fifth meeting I can get into more detail.”

“It’s only taken 150 years for Cleora to fulfill its town ambitions,” chuckled Wood.

Featured image: Chaffee Board of County Commissioners left to right, Keith Baker, Greg Felt, P.T. Wood.