Silverthorne Safeway campaigning heats up | VailDaily.com

Silverthorne Safeway campaigning heats up

Christine McManus/Summit County Correspondent

Committees have formed, both for and against proposed zoning changes that would allow a grocery store and retail center to be built on 11 acres of the 72-acre Smith Ranch. The site is between the Elk’s Lodge and Willowbrook neighborhood on the west edge of Highway 9 in northern Silverthorne.

Voters who live in town will decide Dec. 9 whether to rezone the 11 acres from agriculture to planned unit development. Campaign efforts on both sides have included flyers, word-of-mouth, honk-and-wave volunteers, yard signs and advertisements.

The “Yes for Silverthorne” committee is led by Mayor Lou DelPiccolo, Councilmembers Karla Trippe and Peggy Long and businessman Ken Gansmann.

The group urging a “no’ vote on the rezoning is Silverthorne Advocates for Votes on Expansion, or SAVE, which includes town residents Marilyn Repsher, Jim Shaw, Janet Carter, Nancy Fulton and Bonnie Brown.

“The Town Council did a good thing when it submitted this to a vote of the people,” Repsher said. “There are a lot of people who don’t go to meetings but who care deeply about the town and it’s future.”

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The future of Silverthorne depends on its sales tax revenue because no property taxes are collected in the town, argues a “yes” committee flyer.

“A no vote means a vote against local jobs and local families in order to block alternative uses of a privately owned, 11-acre parcel situated along a busy state highway,” Trippe said.

Opposition leader Repsher questions whether the proposed grocery store and retail shops would create new jobs or move jobs from other parts of Silverthorne.

The “yes” and “no” campaigns clash on a range of issues, including the potential effects on existing businesses and private property rights, the town core, economic development and the proposal’s compliance with the master plan.

SAVE members do not want the ranch developed, but the property owner said he has a right to develop the property.

“The main point is that this is private property, and it will never be declared as open space,” said Boulder resident Tom Garvin, the primary investor in Seminole Land Holding Company that bought the Smith Ranch five years ago.

Size matters

If voters pass the rezoning, developer Brad Kornfeld has approval from the Town Council for detailed plans including a 58,000-square-foot grocery store, 18,000 square feet of attached retail and 18,000 square feet of individual stores.

Proponents say Kornfeld has reduced the height of the proposed grocery store to be shorter than the BigHorn Materials and Ace Hardware store nearby on Highway 9. Opponents said the 95,000-square-foot development will be almost as large as the Silverthorne Target but in an area outside the town core.

Campaigners disagree on the definition and location of the “town core,” where businesses and customers should be directed. Proponents say Silverthorne is four miles long and generally less than one mile wide, making the entire town within the town core.

Opponents say the proposed shops at Silver Mountain Village would be a new commercial area, outside the commercial area identified in the master plan – from Little Beaver Trail (near Office Depot) to West 13th Street.

More sales tax

Proponents say the grocery store and retail shops would bring in additional sales tax revenue for services such as snow plowing, road maintenance, the recreation center and the Silverthorne Pavilion. Opponents say the bigger the town gets, the more it will need additional large commercial developments.

Proponents say no other adequate site is available for a grocery store and retail center.

Opponents say they believe a grocery store could be built behind the Mountain Sports Outlet, or by redeveloping the Xcel storage lot, the Rainbow Drive Factory Stores or near The Mint restaurant. Such sites are cost prohibitive or not available, said proponents of the Smith Ranch rezoning.

The election will cost the town about $4,000, said town finance director Donna Braun.

The only polling place is the town hall. Voters can cast early ballots between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays (except Nov. 27 and 28) until Dec. 5.

About 80 of the 2,200 registered voters cast ballots already, said town clerk Michele Karlin.

Christine McManus can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or cmcmanus@summitdaily.com.