TELLURIDE – At a hearing that was sparsely attended by members of the public, the San Miguel Valley Corporation cleared three major hurdles on Tuesday on conceptual proposals to develop two subdivisions on the north side of the Hwy. 145 Spur near Telluride.
The San Miguel Board of County Commissioners unanimously granted SMVC approval of two sketch subdivision plans for Planned Unit Developments on its Deep Creek and Mill Creek parcels. Also at the hearing, which was held at the Telluride Fire Station, the commissioners approved an amendment to the San Miguel County Land Use Code to create a new Low Density Residential zone district to accommodate the proposed development on parcels that were zoned Planned Unit Development Reserve. All three approvals granted on Tuesday were recommended by the San Miguel County Planning Commission from a hearing held last September.
After so many years of development proposals with SMVC, including the one that led to the voter-approved condemnation of the Valley Floor, Commissioner Art Goodtimes said the relationship has ultimately resulted in a good plan for the Deep and Mill creek parcels.
“It’s very interesting to see after so many years,” Goodtimes said, just before the commissioners granted the three approvals. “We have come to a very interesting place. I appreciate the fact that the community struck a hard deal and that you guys have come back with a very good plan that respects ecological costs.”
Before Tuesday, the two parcels of land were zoned Planned Unit Development Reserve. In the LUC, that zone district contemplated that development of an alternative density could be accomplished by rezoning the property to the Low Density Zone District. However, in 1995 the Low Density Zone District was amended to read that it applies to areas already designated Low Density Zone District. Since that district was no longer available as an alternative, SMVC proposed the LUC amendment to create a new zone district, now titled Low Density Residential following Tuesday’s hearing, that will allow SMVC a density of one single-family residence per six to eight acres.
The allowable house size approved falls within a range of 5,500 square feet to 7,000 square feet.
SMVC Land Planning Consultant Peter Jamar said his team has developed four classifications of home sizes that will be geared toward the various characteristics of each building envelope.
“The preliminary review will be the time for us to get into the nitty gritty of that,” Jamar said.
The sketch plan for the 91-acre Deep Creek parcel shows 15 lots equaling one single-family residence per six acres. The lots will range in size from two to six acres. Approximately 13.4 percent of the Deep Creek parcel will be allocated for development while the remaining 89.4 percent will be undeveloped or designated open space. Access to the Deep Creek parcel will be connected to Airport Road.
The sketch plan for the 121-acre Mill Creek parcel subdivides the land into 20 lots, resulting in a ratio of one single-family residence per 6.06 acres. The Mill Creek sketch plan offers 50 acres of common open space, 58 acres of private open space and a one-acre public garden or park. Approximately 10.6 percent of the parcel will be allocated for development and 89.4 percent will remain undeveloped or open space.
Because the parcels cannot tie into the Town of Telluride’s wastewater sewer system without annexation, individual homes on both developments would be served by onsite wastewater systems that would exceed state regulations for design criteria and standards. Based on the water rights portfolio of SMVC, and existing physical water supplies, a legal and physical water supply has been deemed by the county to be available for both Mill and Deep Creek parcels. Deep Creek’s water needs will be served by the Aldasoro Ranch water system through an agreement made with the Aldasoro Ranch Home Owners Company.
Water supply for the Mill Creek parcel will come from surface water diversions from Mill Creek, Sheep Creek, the East Fork of Deep Creek, and the San Miguel River. Augmentation ponds will support the Mill Creek system.
To satisfy the LUC’s employee housing mitigation requirements, SMVC intends to transfer a three-acre parcel of land on the eastern portion of the Mill Creek parcel to San Miguel County for affordable housing. Architect Cal Wilbourne was hired by the county to analyze the site for building potential and he found that the site could be developed for up to 22 units of affordable housing. Because of the proximity to the Hwy. 145 Spur and a potential need for berms and other issues like potential rock fall hazards, Wilbourne said there is a potential for increased costs in developing the site.
To mitigate those potential increased costs, Commissioner Elaine Fischer asked if SMVC would be willing to add a .25 percent real estate transfer assessment on top of the .75 percent assessment allocated for transportation impact mitigation to help cover the potential costs of making the site buildable for affordable housing. Both Jamar and SMVC attorney Tom Kennedy said they would be amenable to that condition and would bring a specific answer to that question back at a later date.
There was little public opposition to the proposals at Tuesday’s hearing. In fact, the number of representatives on SMVC’s team greatly outnumbered members of the public at the hearing. Sheep Mountain Alliance Executive Director Hilary Cooper asked if there was any hope of getting the Mill Creek parcel annexed into the town in order to achieve a development with smaller lots that are located closer together and has more public benefits.
“Ultimately, we feel like this is the last remaining opportunity for the county to get some creative forward-looking community servicing needs as well as ecological needs for these last remaining parcels,” Cooper said. “We appreciate the huge steps that have been taken but suggest that it could go a little bit further.”Telluride resident Linda Miller asked if SMVC would be willing to dedicate a parcel of open space for a new high school soccer field so that if the school needs to expand, it could expand where its current playing field is now.
Given the past SMVC proposal on the Valley Floor, Kennedy said that was unlikely.
“There was a time, as part of the proposed settlement with the town, where there might have been a school built out there,” Kennedy said. “That ship has sailed and we are dealing with the land use code that we have in front of us.”
SMVC plans a payment in lieu of land dedication to satisfy the school’s Land Use Code dedication requirement.
With Tuesday’s approval of the conceptual sketch plans, SMVC has satisfied the first two of five steps in the county’s land use process. SMVC must get planning commission and BOCC preliminary approval of plans to satisfy steps three and four. The fifth and final step is final PUD approval from the commissioners.