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Bayfield, County agree on need to annex Homestead subdivision
8/31/2007 By: Carole McWilliams
By Carole McWilliams
Times senior staff writer
Bayfield officials want to annex a potentially major subdivision southeast of Gem Village, and the developer wants to be annexed. The question is how to make it happen.
That was the message to the La Plata County Commissioners on Aug. 21. But the discussion morphed into debate about the long-delayed effort to get an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to govern development near Bayfield.
Homestead Trails developer Grant Richards has been trying to get a development agreement with the county.
County Planning Director Nancy Lauro told the commissioners, “A development agreement is the county entering a contract with the developer, crafting new (land use) code provisions in exchange for extended vested rights.”
The county has done three of those in the last 10 years, she said – with Durango Mountain Resort, Tamarron, and Silver Pick.
“They take an incredible amount of staff time to create and administer,” Lauro continued. “We spend an inordinate amount of staff time, more than we had available with our other project load, even if the developer paid for the time.”
She said the last board of county commissioners didn’t think the Homestead is a good candidate for this.
Commissioner Wally White said, “Based on what I see and hear, I still don’t see that it meets our requirements for a development agreement.” He agreed with Lauro’s concerns about staff time.
Homestead attorney Doug Shand focused on hopes to annex into Bayfield and get town water service. The subdivision has central water supplied by wells.
“We are somewhat optimistic that we might be able to do the annexation sooner if we can get cooperation from CDOT with a “flagpole” annexation” along either Highway 160 or 160B, Shand said.
He noted that CDOT adopted a statewide policy against flagpole annexations after Pagosa Springs used it to annex to the west and forestall the prospect of the Fairfield area becoming a separate town. A “flagpole” annexation is when a town annexes a piece of property that does not border town limits.
CDOT doesn’t want the controversy that often surrounds flagpole annexations, Shand said, but in this case the town, the county, and the developer all agree the Homestead should be annexed.
“Bayfield sees this as an anchor annexation that will allow the town to move west,” Shand asserted. “We are willing to take all the steps necessary to get a flagpole annexation from CDOT.”
The alternative is sequential annexation of land in between, which could take years, he said. “We would welcome the annexation as soon as possible. We want to be in Bayfield,” Shand said.
He suggested the development agreement should be negotiated with town staff and then go to the county commissioners for review and approval. When annexation happens, the town would assume the development agreement, he said.
The town would permit 350 residential lots and around 60,000 square feet of commercial development in the Homestead, Shand said.
He cited the annexation, commercial development, and a stoplight that CDOT will require at the west end of Hwy 160B as public benefits from the project.
“I’m told there are other property owners who would like commercial development” in that area, Shand said. “We want some level of vesting, more than three years, because of the cost of the intersection and to bring town water.”
Commissioner Joelle Riddle raised the IGA issue.
The IGA, which has been in the works for several years, will cover development within the town’s claimed growth area, especially for land that isn’t contiguous with town limits. About a mile separates the Homestead from town limits.
“When we met with the town board (earlier this summer), we decided it was important to decide where we are on the IGA,” Riddle said. “We are waiting for the town to come up with a map.”
During discussion about the IGA earlier this summer, the commissioners raised objections that the town’s claimed growth area is larger than the area in the town comprehensive plan. They need to match, the commissioners said.
Town Manager Justin Clifton agreed as he spoke to the commissioners. He suggested adding the Homestead area to the town comp plan for starters.
“This area is important to Bayfield,” Clifton said. The town board worked on the IGA at a recent work session, and it should be ready to go with “a couple tweaks,” he said. The Homestead is in the town’s tier 2 (non-contiguous) growth area, he said.
“The town isn’t supporting a development agreement, but we agree there’s a need for long term vesting,” Clifton said. He wanted to know how the land use designations will be made long-term.
“That’s different from saying we support the request for a development agreement,” he continued. “We don’t want anything to proceed right before the IGA is done.” The question is what happens before the Homestead can be annexed.
As for flagpole annexation, Clifton said, “The town is interested in that as a tool, but we haven’t said we are ready to annex. We want that as a tool. If the town, county, and developer all agree, we shouldn’t be precluded. We would like county support for a flagpole annexation request to CDOT.”
He said there should be some revisions to the IGA map, but he maintained the town’s position that the sticky issue of annexing county roads next to annexed land should be dealt with separately.
Riddle said, “The road issue is big for the county.”
County Road 501 has been at the center of this. Clifton asserted that probably 80 percent of traffic on 501 is from Forest Lakes.
Riddle objected, “We are wanting to talk about something that always seems to get put off.”
Planning Director Lauro said, “I am hearing we are farther out from the IGA being consummated than I thought.”
Another town concern is potential conflict in the Homestead/ Gem Village area with a rural water district that is again being proposed.
Clifton said that to get town water to the Homestead, the developer will have to extend the water main that far. There would have to be implied consent for annexation.
Riddle suggested a work session with the town to talk about the Homestead and the IGA. “It’s the opinion of this board that we are all in this together,” Riddle said, “to get the agreements in place for good development.”
The commissioners will continue discussion at a work session on Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Town planner Joe Crain told the Times it will take six to nine months to revise the town comprehensive plan. The town and county will have to agree on some mechanism to handle development in this area before the comp plan changes and IGA happens, he said.
The prospect of a signalized intersection with commercial development around it is prompting the town to annex this area, Crain said.
The first 48 units of the Homestead (then Village East) were approved in 1996. In Feb. 2002, the commissioners approved a conceptual plan that showed 215 single family lots, 30 townhomes, plus a commercial area on 137.98 acres, in addition to the original 48 lots on 65 acres. Twenty-three lots from the conceptual plan were approved for actual construction in Nov. 2003.
In May 2006, developer Grant Richards applied for a revised conceptual plan with 350 residential units on 239.6 acres, including the 48 and 23 lots.
It included a long narrow 40 acre parcel just south of the original 48 lots.
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