Gypsum approves 591-unit Siena Lake proposal
GYPSUM — Siena Lake, a proposal for 591 new residential units — including a 332-unit neighborhood for ages 55 and older and a 227-unit smaller home development — received unanimous approval from the Gypsum Town Council Tuesday night, Aug. 14.
“This will be a departure from what we are seeing right now, but it may be a workable solution to some of the housing issues we have going on,” council member Chris Estes said.
During the public hearing for the proposal, members of the community asked several questions about the plan, but no one voiced opposition to the proposal. Developer George Roberts and his planning representatives Tambi Katieb and Alison Perry laid out the plan for Siena Lake, noting the initial phase will comprise 81 of the “mountain cottage” units — smaller houses described as starter homes.
“These are not tiny homes. They are placed on a foundation,” Katieb said.
While they don’t meet the definition of “tiny,” the homes are definitely compact. The size of units will range from 400 square feet to 1,500 square feet.
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“I just can’t conceive of anybody living in 400 square feet,” community member Larry Benway said.
“You would be surprised at how many people are interested in those small units,” Roberts said. “We think there is really a need for people who are moving into the county. This is a starter home. As your family grows, you are going to outgrow these places.”
Roberts declined a request to give estimated prices for the mountain cottage units.
“That is a really hard question,” he said. “The target will be more affordable than almost anything that is currently available in Eagle County at a comparable size.”
Ideally, Roberts said, residents will be able to purchase mountain cottage homes and have house payments that are about the same as the rent amounts they currently pay.
Active adult neighborhood
The neighborhood for ages 55 and older part of Siena Lake is proposed as phase II of the development. Perry said the reason for starting with the mountain cottages is because that part of the plan is the most easily accessible once infrastructure is built to the area.
“I am sure the 55-plus active adult community is what people are most interested in,” resident Mary Kate Ewing said. “How far do we have to get into this before the active adult part is done?”
Perry said the plan is to launch that part of the development as soon as practical, and potential residents are not the only ones interested in the 55 and older neighborhood. Gypsum Community Development Director Lana Gallegos noted the Eagle County Housing Authority has expressed interest in the development as an option for its senior housing program.
In proposing both the smaller homes and the age 55-and-older neighborhood, Roberts said Siena Lake will provide new residential options.
“The demand is there and both of these concepts don’t really exist today in Eagle County,” Roberts said.
The ‘lake’ part of Siena Lake
With a development name that touts a lake, several residents asked if the development has sufficient water rights to make good on the claim.
Roberts said the proposed lake will be 27 feet deep and the 170-acre parcel has sufficient rights to keep water in the man-made lake.
“In a dry year, it won’t turn into a mud hole if you have a house next to the lake,” Roberts said.
Gypsum water attorney Kevin Patrick confirmed Siena Lake had sufficient water rights to develop the property as proposed. Additionally, a non-potable water system has been proposed for irrigation so the town of Gypsum’s system would not be taxed in dry years.
“If they do not have sufficient irrigation water in a dry year, it is not our problem, it is their problem,” Patrick said.
Gypsum Town Council members voiced strong support for the project.
Council member Marisa Sato said she has heard lots of positive feedback about the 55-and-older proposal and that she supports the plan to bring more affordable housing options to the community.
“We have all moved here and had to start here and it isn’t easy to buy your first home,” Sato said. “The developer is talking to us about making prices comparable to rent.”
“I think it is better to do a project on a piece of land like this than ripping up somebody’s agriculture ground,” Estes said.
“I am ready to see this get going and I think it will serve the community well,” concluded Mayor Steve Carver.