What will annexation cost Minturn?
MINTURN – Faced with annexing a Beaver-Creek-sized and priced chunk of land that will bring wholesale change the town, Minturn officials took action: They packed their bags and headed to Florida.They aren’t taking spring break. Instead, they’re talking with officials in Flagler County and elsewhere on the east coast of Florida between Daytona Beach and St. Augustine, where developer bobby Ginn has built huge developments. Ginn purchased 5,300 acres on and around Battle Mountain between Minturn and Red Cliff in December for $32.75 million, and plans to build a private ski hill and golf course with up to 1,400 residences on it. He has asked the development be annexed into Minturn.Town Manager Ann Capela, Town Attorney Allen Christensen, town planner Wiley Smith and Economic Development Director Nicole Magistro made the fact-finding trip. The group wants to see first-hand what happens when small communities are faced with the effects of large developments.It’s not the only thing the town of 1,100 residents is doing to prepare itself for a large annexation that would triple the size of the town. Council members invited Ted Wong, mayor of Granby, to talk about how his Colorado mountain town has dealt with large annexations that have quadrupled the town’s acreage in just three years.”Water and money are the biggest criteria,” he said, adding Granby tries to ensure the property they’re annexing has both resources. Wong also said development should pay its way.”You don’t want to saddle existing residents with the cost brought by development,” he said.Early planning should be done in joint sessions of the town council and the town’s planning commission, which is typically an advisory board. “You have to decide what you want your town to look like five or 10 years or more down the road,” he said. Instead of hiring additional staff, Granby hired consultants, Wong said. The cost of those consultants is passed along to the developer. And it’s likely the developer will ask to use some of the additional sales tax revenue the development will generate, Wong said. Granby, he said, usually does a 50-50 split.”Don’t offer it,” he said. “Let them bring it up.”In Avon, for example, the developer of The Home Depot and Wal-Mart stores will receive all sales taxes until the shopping center pays off its debts. Another key is letting town staffers run the negotiations with developers, Wong said.”We trust our team. You don’t want to have board members cut out of the herd” with individual communications, he said. The development in and around Granby has begun to show some positive signs. Last year sales taxes in the town of 800 hit $1 million for the first time, Wong said.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado