Florida developer proposes 272 home sites in Stagecoach | SteamboatToday.com

Florida developer proposes 272 home sites in Stagecoach

Song Mountain subdivision proposal

Port St. Lucie Civic Center and West Palm Beach City Center.

- 896-acre master planned community on lower flanks of Woodchuck Mountain

- Site lies along east side of Routt County Road 16, southeast of Stagecoach Reservoir

- Preliminary proposal calls for 272 building lots and 366 dwelling units spread among a series of clustered neighborhoods

- In addition to 260 single-family lots of about 1 acre each, there could be nine duplex lots and three townhome parcels totaling about 88 units

- In addition to 46 acres required to be set aside for public use (possibly water storage facility and fire station site), 433 acres or 48 percent of site would be devoted to open space

A Florida-based water resource engineer hoping to develop 272 new building lots on the shoulder of Woodchuck Mountain near Stagecoach Lake State Park has entered the county planning process with a development he says could take 15 to 20 years to fully realize.

Ji-ang Song, of Song Mountain LLC, has retained Patten Associates to assist him in pursuing a conceptual plan through the county’s subdivision sketch process. In the process, they hope to down-zone 340 acres of an 896-acre parcel from its historic high-density residential zoning.

Song promised Thursday that he and his wife, architect Young Song, would be patient developers.

“If you ask me, ‘What’s my wish?’ I’d like to bring some lots to market in a two- to three-year timeframe. That may be overly ambitious on my part. It may take five to seven years, and now, I’m thinking maybe 15 to 20 years for the (entire) project,” Song said.

“I’m not a typical developer. I’m taking a long view of this, unlike most developers – they have to meet financial goals and get in and out of it in five to seven years.”

Song said he understands that existing neighborhoods in Stagecoach, The Neighborhoods at Young’s Peak, for example, have existing inventory that needs to be absorbed. However, he felt that going forward with the down-zoning and his conceptual plan would help clarify the future of the development land surrounding Stagecoach Reservoir.

“That high density was out there like a dark cloud in the sky. I thought maybe I’d bite the bullet and try to do planning, which makes better sense,” Song said. “Down-zoning was not something I intended to do, but I talked to planners and I talked to Realtors, and I listened very intently to Peter Patten and decided sensible down-zoning could maybe be a win/win.”

The Song Mountain proposal is on the agenda for the April 16 Routt County Regional Planning Commission meeting. Staff planner Ross Easterling said the developers have provided a level of detail that goes beyond the conceptual information required at this stage. For example, they’ve consulted with the Colorado Department of Transportation and undertaken a wildlife mitigation plan.

Easterling said he plans to review Song Mountain against the 1999 Stagecoach Community Plan. However, he added that an update of that plan already is on his department’s horizon.

The high-density zoning on the land dates to the late 1960s, when development of the proposed Stagecoach Ski Area was being anticipated. That ski area was never fully realized, ultimately becoming defunct.

Scott Woodford, of Patten and Associates, said the old zoning allows as many as 3,900 dwelling units on 3,000-square-foot single-family building lots, compared to the 366 proposed by Song.

“We think we’re bringing in something much more appropriate for the land itself,” Woodford said.

Open to open space

In documents submitted to the Routt County Regional Planning Department, Patten Associates acknowledges that because the previous owner of the property did not participate in the formation of the Stagecoach Community Plan in 1999, it was designated as very low residential, implying that it was suitable for a density of single dwellings on 5-acre lots.

The Songs, as representatives of Woodchuck Mountain, LLC, purchased 2,600 acres in the Woodchuck Mountain area for $5.5 million in March 2006, according to Routt County assessor’s records. Song said he intends to follow through on the development himself and does not plan merely to obtain the entitlements from the county and market the development.

There also are no immediate plans to develop the balance of the land not included in the 896 acres comprising the current proposal, Song said. If it were to be developed, it would be as 35-acre home sites or a land preservation subdivision that clusters those home sites, he added.

“My intention is, if I sell something, I probably would sell the ranch parcel,” he said.

Woodford responded to the density criteria in writing: “Given that most of the proposed density is spread out in smaller clusters and the majority of the unit will not be visible from county roads, the distinct rural character of the area will be preserved. A total of 48 percent of the site will be open space, which increases to about 84 percent when considering only the impact of the roads and building envelopes.”

Solely the Songs

Civil Design Consultants of Steamboat Springs has laid out roads of the subdivision, Woodford said. Song added that water and sewer utilities from Morrison Creek Metropolitan Water and Sanitation District already run to within close proximity of the development pods identified for the initial stages of the subdivision.

Song said he has not developed a subdivision before and that he and his wife do not have financial partners.

“We are it,” Song said.

In his role as a consulting engineer, Song added, he has become very familiar with the development process.

“I began working with the Disney development company in 1982,” Song said. “I don’t think of myself as a developer, but I’ve helped a lot of developers get their projects realized.”

Song said he and his family fell in love with Steamboat after taking ski vacations across North America and in Europe. He said that when he came from his native South Korea to begin college in 1970, he already had a passion for rock climbing and mountaineering. He set that activity aside during his undergraduate and graduate studies but rediscovered his appreciation for the mountain environment while teaching his two sons to ski.

Song is a member of the board of the Palm Beach County Economic Council. Young Song is a principal in Song and Associates. Projects include public schools, the Port St. Lucie Civic Center and West Palm Beach City Center.

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