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Elk River plan moves ahead

Planning Commission unanimously backs development

— The Routt County Planning Commission on Thursday recommended approval of the county’s largest land preservation subdivision project, calling it a model for future projects.

Commissioners unanimously approved an application for the Elk Mountain Ranch land preservation subdivision exemption, which is for 62 five-plus acre lots on 1,797 acres. The remainder parcel, or open space, totals 1,325 acres. The ranch is east of the Elk River and north of Routt County Road 42.

The county’s land preservation subdivision program allows developers to have more lots than the state’s standard 35-acre lot size would allow. In return, the developer has smaller, more clustered lots and leaves the remaining land open. The Elk Mountain Ranch partners asked for 11 of their 13 possible bonus lots.



Planning commissioners tab–led the land preservation subdivision review earlier this month so the applicants could address four issues: the proposed entry gate, improvements to C.R. 42, effects on wildlife and cumulative effect.

On Thursday, Tom Braun of Braun Associates addressed the four issues with commissioners. One change was that the gate to the community would be left open.



Before approving the land preservation subdivision exemption, or LPS, commissioners voiced their support for the project. “This is an excellent LPS project,” commissioner Fred Nichols said.

Diane Mitsch Bush, vice chairwoman, agreed. “I hope this becomes a model for other LPSs,” she said.

The commission was then asked to review the applicants’ proposed uses for the open space. They needed a conditional-use permit to construct a private recreational facility on three sites totaling 14 acres. The recreational facilities include a lodge, fishing cabins, an outfitters’ center, a pool, a fitness center, a spa and employee housing units.

The permit also was up for review earlier this month, but the commission tabled it so the applicants could address concerns raised by county planning staff members.

One concern was the fishing cabins, which were spread out and located in floodplain areas. Braun said the number of cabins was reduced from eight to seven, and the cabins would be put into two clusters off the floodplain areas.

Commissioner Jay Gallagher complimented Braun for moving the cabins. “I appreciate your responsiveness to our concerns,” Gallagher said.

A couple of residents also spoke in support of the permit.

John Hillenbrand, who moved into the area five years ago, said he hoped to be an employee of the ranch. “Some good things will happen in Steamboat Springs and Routt County because of this project,” he said.

Dan Simon, who lives on the Elk River, said he’s glad this project has been proposed. “I can’t wait until it gets done,” he said.

The land preservation subdivision exemption will have to go to the Routt County Board of Commissioners for approval. Elements of the project yet to come before the county include the water system and the proposed on-site gravel operation.


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