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The approval of the sketch plan for Cozart Estates major subdivision by Chaffee County Commissioners gives a green light to a major housing subdivision in the county, at the same time municipalities like Salida could seem to be turning on the caution lights. The project, located along U.S. Highway 50 between Poncha Springs and Maysville, is seeing a far different pace of progress than another high-profile project, Salida Crossings, further east in Salida.

“It’s night and day difference, between working with the county and Poncha Springs, and working with Salida,” said project leader Duane Cozart, whose Salida Crossings condo project now faces a citizen petition in Salida. “I’ll be breaking ground here in a few days on this project. In Salida, I’m delayed for months and the delay could add as much as $10,000 per unit cost to the project.”

The major subdivision known as Cozart Estates is officially being developed by Weldon Investments LLC, with Cozart’s father, Arthur Dean Cozart, as managing member. The nearly 51-acre subdivision at 14300 U.S. Highway 50 will include eight lots, ranging in size from 2.33 acres to more than 20 acres. It includes a nearly eight-acre open space lot recorded on the plat. The new lots will be served with wells, and augmentation certificates must be purchased for all lots before the plat is recorded.

A second road into the subdivision is proposed, which will require a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Geological surveys of the steeply-sloped acreage and Weldon Creek will require that both the preliminary and the final plat include building envelopes. Both the current entrance and the proposed second entrance are east of a new entrance road off U.S. Highway 50 to the Holman gravel pit project.

The area is considered a moderate fire risk. County approval requires that a fire cistern will be added, and that there be suitable space for emergency vehicles to turn. Lot eight, the largest of the lots lying along U.S. 50, has a steep slope rising from the highway. While it’s not planned to be developed at this time, the developer is discussing its future with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“The proposal mentions possible future development on lot eight, which isn’t there now,” said Commissioner Greg Felt. “I don’t want to deal with lot eight now, but I wonder about future (road) access.”

With the rugged terrain, the developer is proposing a trail system through the area of approximately one and a half miles that will include steep walking sections. Planner Christy Barton said the exact route of the trail hasn’t been designed yet.

“The trail will be a 25- to 40-foot-wide route designated on the property,” said Cozart, adding he wasn’t sure yet if the trail, which would back up to lots one and two, would be open to the public. “The Monarch sign is about 10 to 15 feet inside my property; that’s where we’re looking at an access point with CDOT.

“Just the frontage along 50 is about three-quarters of a mile long. If there ever is a bike trail, it could tie into our section. It’s about 170 feet from the highway to the top of the ridge and it goes down about the same amount to the lots, then it goes up to 170-180 feet toward Weldon Creek. We’re doing a slope study.”

“I’m pleased by the idea that the trail along U.S. 50 could take bike traffic off the highway for a passing area,” said Commissioner Keith Baker.

Motion to approve was made by Commissioner Dave Potts, seconded by Baker and unanimously passed.