Hayden to explore annexation | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden to explore annexation

Town Board agrees to look at pros, cons of golf course subdivision

Nick Foster

The Hayden Town Board voted 3-2 on Thursday that a 676-acre parcel of land is eligible for annexation.

The split vote was indicative of the mixed opinions of residents who spoke during more than an hour and a half of public comment.

The issue at hand seemed to be misunderstood, trustees Joe Schminkey and Tim Frentress said. Schminkey said the board was voting only to obtain more information about the pros and cons of the annexation.

Trustee Ken Gibbon disagreed, saying Hayden’s “identity is at stake” with this decision.

Trustees Schminkey, Frentress and Lorraine Johnson voted to approve a resolution stating that the land is eligible for annexation. Gibbon and newly elected Trustee Richard Bush voted against the resolution.

A development group, West Routt Properties, is requesting the town look at this 676-acre annexation for the purpose of adding to 220 in-town acres to build an 18-hole golf course and a surrounding residential subdivision, which ultimately would include up to 2,000 homes and be called The Villages at Hayden.

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Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin had recommended the Town Board vote in favor of the resolution because “it only moves us forward toward a better understanding of what impacts the town should be mitigating with an annexation agreement.”

Several residents also asked the board to pass the resolution.

“Overall, I believe from an economic standpoint, it will take a larger base of people to support this community,” Realtor Jack Giessinger said. “Plus this opportunity may not come up again, or it may come in shattered pieces. Having one developer is a very positive aspect, and without starting somewhere, we go nowhere.

“Even if the town doubled in size over the next 20 years … it would still be a very small town, but imagine the amenities it would bring.”

Johnson echoed Giessinger’s comments, saying the development could stimulate business growth and stop current businesses from simply “passing the buck around.”

Banker Joni Schafer, former Trustee Richard Hagins and surveyor Gordon Dowling also said the board should stay open-minded about the annexation.

“Any time things aren’t working out, the town can still say no,” Hagins said.

But several also opposed moving forward with the resolution.

Planning Commission member Chuck VeDepo said, by judging from the current growth in town and undeveloped lots, he does not think there will be demand for so many homes. He said the developers should use the 220 acres they have first.

Gibbon agreed.

Ron Sills, of West Routt Properties, rebutted their comments, saying that the golf course would attract people to the town and the subdivision, and therefore the annexation is needed so that it can be built first.

Also, Sills said West Routt Properties has invested about $75,000 in three market analysis studies, which revealed “all the housing here is overpriced.”

“Our plan is to produce affordable housing,” Sills said. “Our plan is to provide homes and financing packages. That’s the only way to get affordable housing in Routt County.”

The lots in the Sagewood subdivision that remain empty are vacant because it is much more difficult for a young family to come in, choose a lot, get a building loan and go through the entire process as opposed to finding a pre-built home with a simple financing plan, Sills said.

In other business:

n Mayor Chuck Grobe was sworn into another two-year term, and trustees Johnson, Gibbon and Bush were sworn into four-year terms.

n Chencho Salazar was reappointed as mayor pro tem, even though he was not at the meeting.

n Developer Paul Flood’s 29-lot subdivision, The Meadow, received final plat approval and all the other necessary approvals to start construction.

n Hagins thanked the Town Board for all they had done for the town during his time with them and asked that the trustees make all their decisions with keeping children in mind, because “they are the future.”

— To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com