Concerns about view corridor, affordable housing raised at county meeting
By Stephen Elliott
Staff Reporter – Telluride Daily Planet
In what should be the last step before seeking final approval in December, the developers of the proposed Mill Creek and Deep Creek subdivisions presented a final draft of their application to the San Miguel County Board of County Commissioners at a public hearing Tuesday afternoon.Though the county meeting room in the Miramonte Building was full of people and energy as the hearing started, when the commissioners opened the meeting to public comment nearly three hours later, enthusiasm and attendance had waned.A few key concerns about the project raised by the public and county staff included visibility of the homes from the road, environmental impact and the inclusion of affordable housing. County planning director Mike Rozycki presented the application for nearly an hour, followed by representatives from San Miguel Valley Corporation, the owner of the two properties.The 120-acre Mill Creek parcel is located north of the Spur and east of Hillside. SMVC plans to subdivide it into 20 single-family residential lots. The Deep Creek parcel, located east of the airport, is adjacent to the Last Dollar subdivision. SMVC proposes 15 single-family residential lots on the 91-acre property.
Though the county calls for similar developments to deed restrict a third of their lots, in this particular application they are asking for a 3.2-acre piece of property to be used for a larger affordable housing project.
“Rather than asking for deed-restricted lots, we thought a higher priority was land for an affordable housing project,” Rozycki said.
The 3.2-acre concession is on the eastern edge of the Mill Creek parcel closest to town, and SMVC would pay for a large part of the infrastructure needed to build an affordable housing project there.
SMVC has also offered a voluntary 0.25 percent real estate transfer assessment in perpetuity to go toward the county’s affordable housing efforts. Another 0.75 percent assessment will go to the county’s transportation fund.
Peter Jamar, SMVC’s land planning consultant, addressed concerns that the proposed developments were too intrusive or ambitious.
“With the public open space and large lot sizes, 86 percent of the Deep Creek site will remain untouched and undisturbed,” Jamar said. “The berms and 200-foot scenic setback on the Mill Creek development will mitigate any impact it might have on the view corridor.”
One moment of confusion and disagreement during the meeting came during the discussion of water rights for the Mill Creek parcel. Eric Bikis, an outside water consultant for SMVC, attempted to explain the complex confluence of junior and senior water rights shared by the town and SMVC, some dating back to the 19th century, but members of the commission and the assembled public remained confused.
The town of Telluride owns two-thirds of the Mill Creek senior water rights and SMVC owns the remainder.
Commissioner Joan May didn’t see a problem with the development’s use of their water rights.
“When I look at water rights I see that the town of Telluride owns the majority and that Mill Creek could dry up with or without the development,” she said.
The lengthy application process, which has been ongoing for more than two years, should reach a more final conclusion at the county’s Dec. 10 meeting, when the commissioners will decide if the development can move forward.
Don’t expect the construction equipment to show up right away, though. Even with the pending approval, Jamar said it could still take as long as 10 years. Sell the Telluride Real Estate.