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Garfield County Report: Mystery Ranch proposal introduced

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Garfield County Commissioners took nearly seven hours to address the agenda at their Feb. 7 meeting. For more information about the agenda, an assortment of attachments, and a recording of the entire meeting, visit www.garfield-county.com

The latter part of the meeting included topics pertaining to community development. During a public notice hearing, the commissioners reviewed 14 exhibit items as part of a developer’s proposal for the “Mystery Ranch” subdivision on land south of Carbondale.

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Garfield County Senior Planner Vince Hooper presented the sketch plan. Brian Mcnellis of BMC Planning + Design joined the applicant, Antony Cullwick of Mystery Ranch, to make their case.

The proposed development would subdivide an 83.74-acre parcel and a 16.67-acre parcel  (totaling roughly 100 acres) into nine lots. The designated plots are located at 1634 Prince Creek Road and 928 County Road 111. The separate lots would serve as “unattainable housing,” as pointed out by Chairman John Martin, with 31 acres dedicated for conservation and wildlife protection.

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During the public comment portion of the hearing, Ryan Mitchell, an attorney with Balcomb & Green law firm, appeared representing T2 Carbondale LLC, “the owner of the Big Four Ranch — a historic 2,500-acre working ranch that surrounds the proposed development on three sides,” the attorney explained. Mitchell argued how much space the proposed subdivision would take up and how that would subsequently affect agricultural work for ranchers already operating near the proposed site.

“Proposed developments such as this one should be located within or adjacent to existing communities to eliminate sprawl and preserve agricultural lands for continued operation,” Mitchell said. “This proposal, to me, looks a lot like sprawl. It is located outside of Carbondale’s municipal boundary, an urban growth area, and nine homes with swimming pools and hot tubs would replace roughly 25 acres of agriculturally productive land,” he summarized.

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Simultaneously representing the East Mesa Ditch Water Supply Company, Mitchell pointed out that the applicant seeks to acquire legal access to water through the use of the East Mesa Ditch, channeling an additional .75 cubic feet per second through it. Reportedly, the ditch does not currently have the capacity to divert the proposed level of water.

Matt Nieslanik, a lifelong resident of the Roaring Fork Valley and employee of T2 Carbondale LLC, stated that the lots of the proposed subdivision “don’t fit,” referring to the ranch land and demographic that surrounds the area.

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Notably, as pointed out by Commissioner Mike Samson, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has not chimed into the conversation. Furthermore, the town of Carbondale has yet to provide any input.

Commissioner Tom Jankovksy was on the fence. He acknowledged that it’s agricultural land, but added that “nobody can make a living on 100 acres,” agriculturally. He noted that members of the planning commission indicated it is a good plan. “It’s sad to see land being split up but, at the same time, on 100 acres, I don’t know what else an owner does … I don’t know what else you do other than subdivide it.” He concluded by saying, “I’m not totally in favor of the plan, but I’m not opposed to it either.”

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Samson said that he would echo some of what Jankovsky said, but added, “I think I’m more against it than he is.” The commissioner went on, “I’m looking at the time frame here and I’m thinking,  ‘not yet.’ But I can see this happening in 10, definitely 20 years — something like this is going to happen to that land.” 

The county attorney reminded the commissioners they did not need to make a decision at the time. Samson replied, “I understand that, but I don’t want them to spend a whole lot of money if you catch my drift,” he said of the developers.

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“The use and change of agricultural water to other purposes, that’s a big impact. That’s a big issue,” stated Martin. He also noted that the potential wildlife impact needs to be addressed. “It is definitely a change of community and neighborhood, and it’s a real challenge to get your hands around,” he added.

No final decision was made at the close of the session.

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Tags: #East Mesa Ditch #Garfield County Commissioners #Matt Nieslanik #Myki Jones #Mystery Ranch #T2 Carbondale LLC
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