Green development planned for Gypsum |

Green development planned for Gypsum

GYPSUM ” There’s another development planned for Gypsum that would include plenty of greens, but none that require a golf club.

Informal pre-annexation talks began last month between the town and Kurt Forstmann of KJF L.L.C. They propose to develop the Gutierrez Ranch, often known as the Flying G Ranch. The property is located in the Gypsum Creek Valley south of the Brightwater development.

The concept for the 981-acre project is a “low density development that will integrate an environmentally sustainable residential community with associated retail, commercial and recreational uses into working agricultural ranch.”

What does that mean? The low density definition refers to a proposal for 273 units ” 168 single family lots, 90 “casitas” and 15 employee units. The development also includes a Village Center with 30,000 square feet of building space (compared to the new Costco store, which covers 155,000 square feet). The center would include an interfaith chapel and a community lodge.

Instead of perks such as prime tee times or clubhouse memberships, residents of Winding Creek Ranch would share in the harvest from a 22-acre vegetable farm and live in lakefront neighborhoods where water resources would be stored.

“This is a completely different approach to development. This is a sustainable community,” said Kurt Forstmann.

He believes Winding Creek Ranch may become a model for future resource sensitive developments.

Forstmann said the Winding Creek Ranch plan revolves around three elements: water, sun and soil.

Water is at the concept’s core. The ranch property has senior water rights to bring to Gypsum. Development of water features ” a series of lakes and ponds ” is the centerpiece of the plan, Forstmann said. The Winding Creek Ranch lakes will aid Gypsum by providing much needed reservoir space in addition to providing residents with a unique living environment, he said.

On the sun front, Forstmann said the housing in Winding Creek Ranch will be equipped with solar panels, some of which simply look like roof shingles as opposed to the massive structures people may associate with the technology.

“Colorado has 300 days of sunshine a year,” Forstmann said. “I think its fairly stupid that people aren’t using solar power for electric needs.”

He also plans to orient each house on its individual lot to maximize sun exposure, and to use green building techniques to lessen the homeowner’s reliance on energy.

“These will be highly efficient homes,” he said. “I think this is the future of home building.”

Finally, the soil characteristic relates to a plan to keep part of the ranch as farm land and to have the residents of Winding Creek Ranch share in the bounty. “Maybe part of the homeowners fees will pay for delivery of a basket of locally grown fresh and organic vegetables each week,” Forstmann said.

Forstmann talked with local entities such as the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Gypsum Fire Protection District in the planning process and adapted the development based on that feedback.

Winding Creek Ranch has proposed several amenities that would be open to the public, such as a general store and the community lodge. Forstmann said he sees a big demand for the interfaith chapel and predicts it will become a “wedding factory” when future brides see the idyllic setting on a lake. A boathouse will provide lake access for non-motorized craft. The ranch may also include some private amenities for residents such as a clubhouse and equestrian facility.

The ranch proposal has been the subject of several informal work sessions with the town in anticipation of a formal annexation request. As the development plan evolves, Forstmann plans to host a few open house sessions to introduce area residents to the plan and to answer questions.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

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