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Public comment encouraged at Board of County Commissioners meeting
Media Contact: Mike Bordogna, County Manager, 970.728.3844, firstname.lastname@example.org
(May 3, 2022) – San Miguel County, CO --- San Miguel County and the Town of Telluride have begun the process of rezoning the recently announced Diamond Ridge land acquisition from Forestry, Agriculture, and Open (F) to Community Housing (CH). At the County Planning Commission hearing held on April 21, 2022, numerous public comments were made. We felt that it might be helpful for the public to understand our responses to some of those comments in advance of the Board of County Commissioners’ meeting and public hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at 9:35 AM. Details to attend via Zoom are on www.sanmiguelcountyco.gov.
We have heard consistently from our community over the past and present that it is the responsibility of local governments to create local housing opportunities for the people that work in our communities. We have also heard and observed that the lack of housing for local workers is one of the greatest threats to our local economy and community, especially during the pandemic where many have been displaced locally and forced to move further away from where they work. Many refer to the need for another Lawson Hill-type of development in the east end of the county that allows local workers and their families to purchase or rent long-term housing close to where they work. The Diamond Ridge property is a land banking opportunity to allow for a similar type of development to Lawson’s residential component in the future.
We have been looking for properties close to the employment centers of Telluride and Mountain Village for years, and there are few options available that could accommodate a development that allows for a significant number of homes. It has also been our experience that even those that support affordable, or deed-restricted Community Housing, do not wish for it to be built near them. Further involvement of community input will be conducted and incorporated into any development that may be proposed in the future for this site, if we are able to acquire the property.
Many are confused about what stage of the process this project is in currently. We are only in the diligence phase before acquiring this property, not close to any development planning stages, which would happen much later. One of the major diligence actions to ensure that we will be able to create any level of meaningful Community Housing in the future is rezoning. Rezoning this portion of the property now is so that we can ensure that the property can be used for the development of Community Housing in the future.
Many of the questions that have been posed regarding how many homes would be built, how much traffic generated, and what wildlife mitigation efforts would be implemented will be determined through detailed study and community input at the development proposal stage, which we will not even be able to get to unless we can first rezone this piece and acquire the property.
Some have compared this land opportunity to other developments that are being worked on by the towns within our county. None of the other projects that are being proposed in the towns are in the acquisition diligence phase like this one. Real estate transactions happen privately for a reason. We have seen that when interest in a property not under contract already is shared, prices can be inflated, bidding wars that drive up the price can happen, and unfortunately, sometimes those with the means buy up property to foreclose the opportunity for others to buy land and develop it, similar to what is currently happening in Crested Butte.
We are evaluating the potential impacts of any level of development as they relate to Deep Creek Road. Because this project is being built for working families in the R1 area, almost all employment and school vehicle trips will be traveling to the east from this property on Last Dollar Road (T60), and not to the west toward Montrose/Norwood.
Because Deep Creek Road (62L) is a dirt road with several constraints, such as hairpin turns and a 20 MPH speed limit, many vehicles would be less likely to choose it even when traveling west. After driving the roads from Diamond Ridge in both directions, we found that the time to travel from the entrance of Diamond Ridge down Deep Creek Road (62L) is 3.5 miles, and took 11 minutes and 8 seconds to arrive at Highway 145. Traveling from the airport road (T60) from Diamond Ridge to the intersection of Highway 145 and 62L was 6.2 miles, but took 10 minutes and twenty-one seconds, largely due to the 3.5 miles on the highway and the greater speed limits (40-45 MPH).
Additionally, the time taken to turn right at the intersection of T60 and Highway 145 and go around the roundabout added 53 seconds on average to return to the same point at the T60/Highway 145 intersection.
To provide written public comment to the BOCC on the rezoning application prior to the public hearing, fill out the public comment form here: https://bit.ly/cpcpubliccomment. Alternatively, participants interested in attending the BOCC to comment in-person can join the meeting via Zoom here: https://www.sanmiguelcountyco.gov/661/Agendas-and-Minutes. The BOCC public hearing on the rezoning application is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at 9:35 AM.