Home Depot hopes to build store in Silverthorne
SILVERTHORNE, Colorado Despite a weak economy, big-box chain Home Depot is serious about building a store in Silverthorne and confident that a strong consumer market still exists. The national home-improvement retailer hopes to build a 100,000 square-foot store south of Interstate 70, near the outlet stores close to the base of the Dillon Dam.The town planning commission unanimously approved Home Depots initial site plan and wetlands disturbance permit after three hours of presentation and discussion Tuesday night.Approval is preliminary Home Depot must address nine conditions, including previous concerns about traffic. Commission approval is merely a recommendation to Silverthornes town council. Council will review the initial plans next Wednesday, March 25.Silverthornes planning staff recommended denial of the wetlands disturbance permit, but the commission overruled staff findings by saying public benefit outweighed wetlands destruction. Home Depot also plans to mitigate the wetlands destroyed in another location.In addition to tax revenue, were also creating more wetlands and a higher quality of wetlands in Cottonwood Park (in Silverthorne), said Mike Ciletti, consultant to Home Depot. The town benefits because were increasing revenues and increasing the amount of wetlands.Home Depot representatives also said that Blue River water will be cleaner because of a drainage system built for run-off, snow melt and rain that will be built with the project.Its yet to be seen, said Mark Leidal, Silverthornes community development director.Home Depot is also proposing to use a portion of town-owned land on Adams Avenue for parking, Leidal said, and they want to trade Silverthorne with a portion of land adjacent to the Blue River. Council will decide whether this proposal is acceptable. You have a lot more work ahead of you, said commissioner Robert Kieber to Home Depot representatives.Traffic improvements required by the staff report were divided into opening-day needs and long-term traffic improvements. Commissioners and Home Depot representatives couldnt agree on road alterations needed for opening day and will continue negotiations.Commissioner Karl Heggland said hes concerned that Home Depot will not follow through on long-term issues like road maintenance and expansion needed to accommodate increased retail traffic. And Commissioner Fin Doyle said hed be keeping a close eye on Home Depot developers as plans progress for development.Public commentSix locals addressed the town-planning commission about Home Depots aim to build in Silverthorne, though most of the comments werent related to land-use issues decided by the planning commission.I implore you to do full due diligence before you go through with it, said Ann Brewster of Silverthorne.Brewster said that a Home Depot would destroy local business and damage the local landscape.What happens when the store fails? she asked. Will the town have to tear it down?Summit County resident Helen Barker suggested that Home Depot offset its energy usage by installing solar panels and using other methods of alternative energy.Paul Cannard, the real-estate manager for Home Depot, said that designs are adaptable.Were always interested in technologies that make sense, Cannard said.Many people questioned Home Depot about supporting workforce housing, as its staff would likely have low wages in comparison to the cost of living in Summit County.Carolynne White of the Land Use Council said Home Depot would likely generate $250,000 to $300,000 for the housing authority, with additional sales tax generated by the big-boxs revenue.Though Home Depot reportedly closed many specialty stores recently, White said the chain is focusing on its traditional store model, which is what theyre planning to build in Silverthorne.This is a good market for Home Depot, White said.Questions were also raised about Home Depots personal interest in the well-being of the community.Don Sather, owner of BigHorn Home Improvement Center in Silverthorne, asked that Silverthorne engage in credible studies and citizen comment before any decision is made.With a down economy and Home Depot, businesses would close, shrink and relocate, Sather said.Gary Walters, the lumber yard manager at the Breckenridge Building Center and a Silverthorne resident, said that local businesses shouldnt fear Home Depot.Can we out-service Home Depot with independent lumber service? Walters asked. Yes we can. … Silverthorne has foresight to be the commercial center of Summit County. I think its an opportunity to grow Silverthorne.According to Ciletti, because Home Depot fits the zoning for the building site, the public will not be voting on whether Home Depot can develop on the proposed site.Given the time frame for a project this size, its unlikely ground would be broken before spring of 2010.