County gives initial OK to Wolcott plan
WOLCOTT, Colorado – The county commissioners green lighted a new community in Wolcott.
The commissioners approved it with a 2-1 vote Feb. 21, and signed the final documents earlier this week granting sketch plan approval, the first step in the development process.
More 120 people showed up for that Feb. 21 hearing. When county commissioner Peter Runyon asked for a show of hands from those who support the project, more than 100 hands went up.
When he asked for those who opposed it, no hands went up.
“It was a bit humbling to see the public support,” said Rick Hermes, the local developer whose Community Concepts Colorado is spearheading the project. “It was surprising how many people do care.”
Now they have their initial approval with a list of 25 conditions they have to meet as they keep wading through the planning process.
“In the end, us being a local company and supporting local businesses worked in our favor. It’s a good project and a good design and we’re going to see it through,” Hermes said.
Every surrounding homeowners associations and landowners expressed public support.
“We’re on our way,” Hermes said. “The world has changed a little. Things are coming to life a little bit and hopefully we can continue on that path. Things are generally moving again.”
The project will create 1,600 jobs while building and staffing the planned community. More than 800 of those jobs would remain after construction is finished, Hermes said.
“The Wolcott development would appear to have a positive fiscal impact on Eagle County government funds,” Eagle County’s finance director, John Lewis, said in his analysis.
That means the county will collect more money than it spends to service the new community, Lewis said.
They’ll start by realigning U.S. Highway 6, moving it away from the Eagle River and closer to Interstate 70. A transportation center will be south of I-70 at the Wolcott interchange. On the north side of I-70, a commercial and residential center will be anchored by park land and conservation easements along the Eagle River.
The plan does not include a big box store, but rather “space for local businesses, artisans and live/work opportunities,” Hermes said.
The commissioners made it clear they wanted to avoid the kind of piecemeal development that has created so many problems in Edwards.
Unlike Edwards, Wolcott consolidates land owned by Jouflas ranching families, CJC Properties Limited Partnership, G. Jouflas Ranches LLC and Merv Lapin as a single master planned community.
Also unlike Edwards, Wolcott will be responsible for maintaining its own roads and conservation easement areas.
Not everyone is convinced it’s needed.
“The big question is the need for a new community at this time and should it be incorporated or not incorporated,” said county planning director Bob Narracci.
Most of the homes will be around 2,000 square feet and, so far, are proposed to be moderately priced, according to the plan. When it’s completed, Wolcott would be home to around 2,000 people.
The sketch plan approval starts the clock on a two-year deadline for the developers to bring in a formalized plan. Hermes said they hope to begin construction in the summer of 2013.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.