Vail’s neighbor reaching development limit |

Vail’s neighbor reaching development limit

Kim Marquis

A build-out analysis by Summit County’s planning department projects that, based on the current growth rate, the county will reach residential build-out by 2013, or in less than 10 years.

Build-out is achieved when all of the land zoned for a certain type of construction has been developed.

Summit County, including unincorporated areas and the four towns, is currently 68.7 percent built-out for homes, the analysis found. Land zoned for commercial development is 60.7 percent built-out.

Considering that 25 percent of the county’s residential building capacity was absorbed in the 10 years prior to 2002, planners concluded that development would consume another 25 percent by the year 2011 and reach build-out by 2013.

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Projections were compiled by county planners John Roberts and Mark Truckey. Considering what would happen in a decade or so when Summit County reaches build-out, Roberts points to Aspen, where the development process is quite different.

“When that community reached build-out, real estate values went through the roof,” he said. “You have to begin to consider what that does to surrounding counties, what it does to the types and kinds of development seen and you start to see infill and redevelopment.”

Dave Petersen, managing broker at the Re/MAX office in Frisco, said the local real estate market might experience the same events as Aspen once reaching buildup, especially in redevelopment.

“Older homes will be torn down and replaced with new homes,” Petersen said. “Property values here have already been going up all through the 1990s, and redevelopment is happening already where the value of the land exceeds the value of the structure.”

It is clear that if the pace slows due to unforeseen factors, the time frame to ultimate build-out will be prolonged. However, planners project that even under a slower growth scenario, the county is likely to reach build-out within the next 20 years.

The transfer of development rights, or TDR program, also could affect build-out projections but rather than add or subtract density, the program is a kind of zoning game, in which density is transferred from backcountry parcels and added to in-town properties.

As a county planner, Roberts expects to see more complicated development proposals and the use of intricate programs like TDRs as Summit reaches buildup. Proposals will be scrutinized more closely, he said.

“Square footage becomes more of a premium,” Roberts said. “Planners in Vail are now arguing about each foot in development proposals. Things become much more complex when a community reaches buildup.”

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