The Foundry, voted down by Routt County commissioners, would have treated addiction |

The Foundry, voted down by Routt County commissioners, would have treated addiction

— Routt County commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday, with Commissioner Cari Hermacinski dissenting, to deny a permit that would have allowed Scott Borden to develop a residential addiction rehabilitation facility, the Foundry, on 48 acres 10 miles south of Steamboat Springs on Colorado Highway 131.

Planning Commission voted March 5 to recommend denial of the permit, finding that the proposed use was too intense for the agricultural lands in the South Valley.

County Commissioners Tim Corrigan and Doug Monger agreed, citing incompatibility with the county master plan, even though Borden had modified his proposal since the Planning Commission vote by reducing the number of clients who would be on site at any given time from 24 to 18. He also proposed to reduce the size of a new residential bunkhouse from 6,000 to 3,600 square feet.

“I’m very supportive of this kind of facility,” Corrigan said. “It’s an excellent way to provide those services. Unfortunately, that’s beside the point of our conversation here today. I’m concerned about the intensity of use.”

Corrigan was skeptical about Borden’s estimate that vehicle trips at The Foundry could be limited to 16 per day, an estimate that was based on the fact that the residents, who would be on the premises for 90 days at a time, wouldn’t have cars. Borden said he also planned to minimize deliveries by arranging for the six staff members to purchase food and other goods on their way to work.

Monger, who disclosed before casting his vote that he had rented the same parcel of land from a previous owner in the last two years to pasture his cows, expressed frustration that Borden hadn’t chosen to initially limit his rehab center to the number of clients that could be accommodated in the existing house on the property.

After acknowledging that Borden may be up against economy of scale issues, he said, “If we toned it down to something more reasonable, I’d hope this is not a lost cause. I hope we could comeback with something that uses the building that’s there right now.”

Hermacinski said she had no issues with the intensity of use the rehab facility might create. She pointed out to fellow commissioners that, earlier this year, they had approved a guest ranch just outside Hayden that by some measurements might be a more intense use of an agricultural property.

“We approved the Horse and Hen wholeheartedly,” Hermacinski said. “It’s on 160 acres, but could have up to 624 guests in a year, and we’re talking about 72 guests,” annually at The Foundry.

She added that Horse and Hen obtained a permit that allows it to host up to 10 special events a year of up to 80 people each.

Borden began his presentation to the commissioners by explaining how the rural nature of the property he acquired just for this use supports the mission of The Foundry.

“What makes this site ideal, being a ranch location,” Borden said, is that “our plan is to provide a holistic approach,” involving treating, “every aspect of a person’s life and overall health.

“Giving residents a chance to connect with nature in an open, serene setting provides an opportunity for experiential therapies,” Borden said. “Being on a ranch in a rural area is a major part of The Foundry operation.”

With 32 people in the audience, Borden’s plan had its supporters and detractors during the public comment period.

Emily Duksa, who lives nearby, observed that in her view The Foundry did not fit the county’s rules for use of a home for a business.

“This is a great idea, but this is not the place for it,” she said.

Stuart Handloff, representing the nonprofit Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, described the link between substance abuse and suicide and suggested The Foundry would address the lack of a rehab facility here.

“We feel it’s going to make an immediate difference both in terms of mental health and suicide,” Handloff said.

Matt Kovac, who introduced himself as an engineer who lives just across the highway from the proposed rehab center, said he thinks the place for a facility like The Foundry is in a more developed area of the county.

“This is not a residential operation no matter what game of semantics we play, no matter what definition we give it,” Kovac said.

Jay Wright, pastor at Anchor Way Church, told the commissioners that he has been working with a series of people in need of rehab with no options in the Yampa Valley.

“I’ve had five individuals per year the last two years who have needed something like The Foundry, and we found ourselves at a dead-end road without going to the Front Range,” Wright said. “I’m currently working with three people.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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