Grand County Planning Commission votes against zone change for Murphy Lane property
by Lisa J. Church
Staff Writer
Aug 22, 2013 | 1476 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the fourth time since 2005 the Grand County Planning and Zoning Commission has voted against recommending a zone change for a 17.17-acre parcel of land at the southeast corner of Murphy Lane and Cedar Hills Road in Spanish Valley.

Randy Day, a developer with Red Rock Partners, LLC, is asking the county to rezone the property from rural residential (RR), which allows the construction of up to 1.6 dwellings per acre, to small lot residential (SLR), which allows up to eight units per acre.

A crowd of more than 50 people packed the Grand County Council chambers for the planning commission’s Aug. 14 public hearing on the proposed rezone. Citing a variety of issues including traffic safety, noise and incompatibility with the county’s 2012 General Plan, about a dozen residents of the Cedar Hills area voiced their objections to the rezone proposal.

Day told the planning commission and the crowd that his intentions for the development were being misrepresented by those who oppose it.

Spanish Valley resident Greg Kennedy told the planning commission that rezoning the property and allowing a high-density subdivision would decrease property values and “make residents unhappy.”

“It’s no one’s responsibility to accommodate that if it doesn’t benefit the surrounding community,” Kennedy said. “It doesn’t meet the general plan requirements ... It’s been brought up three other times. At some point it ought to be laid to rest.”

Dennis Silva, a resident of the adjacent Highland subdivision, presented the planning commission with a petition signed by 286 local residents who, he said, oppose the rezone request.

“If you’re going to ever justify this development based on [small lot residential zoning] it’s not going to fly,” Silva said. “We don’t want SLR out there.”

Pati Vidiella urged the planning commission to stick to provisions of the general plan.

“We need to follow the general plan ...,” she said. “It gives us a good framework for future rezoning.”

She also cited traffic safety issues, saying the increased traffic on Murphy Lane would “cost all of us.”

In a presentation to the commission, Day and planning consultant Dan Burkhart of Durango, Colo., said the subdivision planned by Red Rock Partners would include no more than 60 dwelling units.

“You can’t do lots small enough for 137 units,” Burkhart said. “I’m guessing no more than 60 [would be possible].”

Burkhart also said that the county’s new land use code, which includes a future land use code that is intended to take future growth and development into account, is flawed.

“I’ve looked at your code and I don’t really see how it gives any incentive [for building affordable housing],” Burkhart said. “... You’ve actually created a disincentive because every development that comes in the door will do conventional development.”

Day said he hopes to create a subdivision that middle-income residents can afford to live in.

“I want to build 50 or so units ­– very close to around 50,” Day said. “ ... I’m trying to hit development in the middle. I really am trying to build a subdivision for the little guy.”

Day said he hoped to build homes that young couples and middle-income residents could afford. He said being able to build homes on smaller lots would help accomplish that goal.

“I just want to do a nice subdivision like Solano Vallejo that people can afford,” he said. “I realize there’s give-and-take here. And I do not want 130 units on [17 acres]. I just want a reasonable decision based on reasonable information. I’m just trying to create something that’s going to help my family stay in this valley.”

Between 2005 and 2007, Redstone Development, represented at that time by Day, submitted three separate applications for rezoning the property, which at the time was owned by the Grand County School District. A 2005 application requested a rezone to multi-family residential; a 2006 request proposed rezoning the property to SLR; and the 2007 application requested a rezone to large lot residential, planned unit development. The 2007 proposal included a master plan that called for 34 dwellings and 30 percent open space. All three rezone requests were not recommended favorably by the planning commission and were denied by the Grand County Council.

During discussion following the public hearing, planning commission member Dave Stolfa said that based on his calculations, “even with 60 units that comes out to 35 percent” of the density in the entire neighborhood.

Planning commission member Dave Cozzens said he was “very disturbed by what I see happening in my county.”

“I don’t think it’s a new thing. I call it ‘fear and smear’,” he said, adding that he has long argued that the land use code “is a mess.”

“We’ve got the carrot and the hammer. Every time you get close to the carrot the hammer comes down on your head,” Cozzens said. “Our land use code is a bait and switch. They tell you you can do all these things, but when it comes down to it you really can’t.”

The planning commission voted 4-1 against recommending the proposal. Cozzens was the lone vote in favor. Commission member Ryan McCandless was not present. The zone request will be forwarded to the Grand County Council, which will vote on the proposal at a future meeting.

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