Green family working with Gypsum to secure ‘personal vision’ for 36-acre parcel along Cottonwood Pass Road
Green annexation plan features eight, 2- to 6-acre lots along Cottonwood Pass Road
GYPSUM — For 18 years, Scott and Cappie Green have lived on their 36-acre parcel located on the southern boundary of Gypsum.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property. We raised all five of our kids on it,” Scott said. “It required enough work to keep them all out of trouble.”
But the youngest of the Green children will graduate from Eagle Valley High School this spring, and while the couple still wants to live in a place large enough so their kids — and someday their grandkids — can come home to visit, they are ready to let go of some of their sanctuary located along Cottonwood Pass Road.
“It’s a big job to take care of 36 acres with all of the kids grown and three businesses to take care of,” Scott said. “We are at the age where the kids are raised and while Cappie and I will never quit working, we would also like to go and see a bit of the world.”
But as they began considering what to do with their land, the Greens honed in on the idea of giving other families the opportunity to raise children the way they did — with farm chores and 4-H animals and a bit of room to roam. Their property is located right next to Chatfield Corners, a popular Gypsum housing subdivision. But instead of shopping their property to a developer to expand that type of land use to the south, the Greens recently began their own annexation process with the town of Gypsum. Their proposal features eight lots, ranging in size from 2 to 6 acres.
“The owners have raised a family on the property and have come to the town of Gypsum with quite a modest proposal,” noted planner Tom Boni as he introduced an annexation petition and zoning discussion Tuesday night before the Gypsum Town Council.
Boni said the Green’s current home is located on one of the proposed eight lots in the 36-acre annexation. The other seven lots are designed to allow secondary agricultural uses that will maintain the ranching character of the property.
“It’s not a development really. It’s the Green’s personal vision for how they would like to see that property develop,” Boni said.
The Greens say they will be watching the growth at their property unfold. They plan to remain in the area, but maybe not in their current house.
“We have a seven-bedroom house and at some point, there will be two of us in it,” Scott said. “But we are not going away. We are staying on this property or at least in Gypsum. We have options.”
‘Water is sacred’
Today the Green land is lush, the result of generations of cultivation and irrigation.
“The wetlands there are on a part of the property that was originally dryland. It has been irrigated for 100 years,” Boni noted.
What that means to the town is the annexation involves something that may be even more important than land — water.
The property has strong senior water rights that would be absorbed into the town’s portfolio.
“Water is sacred,” Scott said. “I get it that the town wants to control the water going forward.”
But in his discussion with the Gypsum Town Council on Tuesday, he also noted he wants to ensure that enough water rights stay with the property to keep it green.
He noted the domestic impact of the eight lots would be around 16 acre-feet of water annually. His water right is for 800 acre-feet annually.
“From a landowner’ perspective, it is kind of unfair to take all of the water,” he said.
Gypsum town councilman Chris Estes, a rancher himself, is also familiar with water issues.
“The town’s attorneys want the best water rights they can get to put in the portfolio,” Estes said.
Estes also noted that the annexation agreement can include provisions for Green to lease back water from his original right.
“Let’s come to better terms about how much you can get back,” agreed Gypsum Town Engineer/Assistant Town Manager Jim Hancock.
Green noted his annexation plan includes installing a sprinkler system for the lots instead of the current flood irrigation system. That alone will save a lot of water, he said. Additionally, he noted the goal is to keep enough water with the land so that new owners can keep their pastures green. If the valley is experiencing drought conditions, Green said the new owners won’t have the ability to use up water needed in the larger community.
“If the water isn’t in the ditch, we can’t use it,” Scott said. “Last year, I didn’t irrigate much. I sent the water down to my neighbors.”
Other issues for the subdivision include sewer service and the amount of land earmarked for a road right of way. With Green annexation petition now submitted, staff and the applicants will continue their negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues
The official public hearing date for the Green annexation is scheduled March 26.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.