Homeowners question Bair Ranch donation | VailDaily.com

Homeowners question Bair Ranch donation

Veronica Whitney

Following complaints of several Singletree residents, the homeowners association’s board of directors is scheduled today to review a decision to contribute $25,000 to the preservation of the Bair Ranch in Glenwood Canyon.

“We haven’t sent the check yet,” Doug Crichfield, president of the Singletree Property Owners Association, said Wednesday. “We want to address people’s concerns. We’ll be reviewing our decision this week.”

In July, Eagle County commissioners approved a $2 million contribution by the county to preserve the 4,300-acre property as a working ranch and open space. An additional $1 million still is needed to close the $5 million deal with Craig Bair, owner of the ranch.

On Aug. 20, in a heated discussion during the Singletree association’s annual meeting, it was revealed the nine-member board had unanimously decided to contribute $25,000 from its own reserves to the easement.

“We’re a small community and that money raised by the association belongs to this community,” said Alan Aarons, who has lived in Singletree for 18 years, once serving three years on the board of directors. “The money should stay here. There’s always things that can be done here. We can always find ways to improve this land. We need to keep those funds for a rainy day.”

A matter of process

The proposed donation comes from a $300,000 homeowners association reserve fund, a combination of dues – homeowners in Singletree pay $50 per year – and fees paid to the Design and Review Board, which collects fees for every new construction.

According to Peter Bergh, a resident of Singletree and a member of the Berry Creek Metro District, it is appropriate for the association to contribute to something downvalley.

“If we don’t work more collaboratively as a valleywide society, this will not be a nice place to live,” Bergh said.

Aarons said one of the problems is that the proposed 2004 budget information the homeowners received before the meeting didn’t show the Bair Ranch contribution.

“We had already mailed the material before we considered the contribution on Aug. 5,” Crichfield said. “Homeowners association bylaws require that annual meeting materials be mailed a month prior to the meeting on Aug. 20.

“After the commissioners voted in favor of the project, we received an appeal from the Eagle Valley Land Trust to consider a donation to the project,” he said.

Open discussion

Two years ago, the association committed funds to help with the proposed Vassar Meadows/Avon land swap, which aims to conserve 440 acres in west Avon.

Although board members are entitled to make decisions like this one, Aarons said, in an issue as big as this one there should have been an open discussion.

Crichfield said the board’s decision was fueled by many people in the community who felt Singletree should step forward to help preserve the ranch.

“(The Eagle Valley Land Trust) told us there was a deadline (of Oct. 1) and we though it was land worthwhile to preserve for the future generations and the community,” he said.

Aarons, however, questioned whether the board can make this decision.

“Certainly not to spend it in a project that is 40 miles away from here,” Aarons added. “We’re not trouble-makers; we live in a small community and we appreciate the work the board is doing. But there are responsibilities that go with the position.”

Crichfield said the board has the authority to vote on the matter, Crichfield said.

“And we’re not proposing any increase in dues,” he said.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.

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