Vail Valley open space officials table land proposal
Vail CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The county open space board tabled an application Monday to keep half a piece of property known as the Colorado River Ranch from being developed.
It makes more sense to preserve the entire ranch at once, officials said.
The roughly 1,000-acre parcel ” which is home to a working ranch ” is located 12 miles north of Dotsero on Colorado River Road and is owned by a group called River Ranch LLC.
The Eagle Valley Land Trust applied to use $3 million of county open space money to help pay for a conservation easement on 514 acres of the ranch.
The spot the land trust wants to preserve is valued at $13.25 million. Without development rights, the land is worth $8.9 million, according to the most recent appraisal of the property. The difference of about $4.35 million is the cost of the easement.
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The $3 million of county open space money would pay for about 70 percent of the easement. The rest would be funded by a combination of money from grants and the owners.
In the course of reviewing the application Monday, several members of the board said they would rather approve an easement for the entire property.
The Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee is responsible for making recommendations to the county commissioners. The commissioners have the final say on whether to pay for the easement. The open space fund is made up of a portion of property tax money.
The board also suggested that a deal include more public access to the property and educational opportunities on the ranch.
The application already included plans for a 2-acre public parking area that would make for easier access to Bureau of Land Management land next to the ranch, officials said. The public land is often used by hunters.
John Lichtenegger, one of the property owners, said the deal was originally drafted as one easement that would keep the entire ranch from being developed and that the owners would prefer it be done that way.
It was split into two parts for financial reasons, he said. The land trust would likely request $5.5 million or $6 million of open space funds to help pay for an easement for the entire property.
The group plans to start working on a new application for an easement for the entire parcel and submit it to the county in a week or two.