Byers Peak applicant responds
May 9, 2013
FRASER — The public hearing regarding the possible annexation of Byers Peak Ranch continued Wednesday night with the applicant's opportunity to respond to questions and concerns voiced during the public comment period of the hearing process, which ended on April 24.
Some of the main concerns Fraser residents voiced during the public comment period included concerns about the water plant investment fees related to the proposed project, the time allotted for the development of the project, gravel operations related to the project, and the overall concerns about the development of the area and the developer.
"After about four months of a lot of misinformation and a lot of accusations, we appreciated the opportunity to present the case for the application and respond to concerns," said Jack Bestall, a representative of Byers Peak Properties, LLC., during a phone interview Thursday morning.
During Wednesday night's meeting, Clark Lipscomb, the president of Byers Peak Properties, LLC., offered testimony where he provided his background information to provide the audience with a picture of his history in the county, what his goals and aspirations for the Town of Fraser are, and offered some replies to concerns that were voiced during the public comment period.
Lipscomb said he plans to provide an affordable place for people to live in the Fraser Valley because a large number of people who work in the Fraser Valley cannot afford to live there. More people living in the area means "more of their dollars are being spent in this community than Granby down the road," he said.
"The stronger we make Fraser, the more apt it is to become the strongest leader in this community and in the county and the better off I am, of course, and the better off all of the residents of the town of Fraser are. That is the end goal," Lipscomb said.
Lipscomb spoke for longer than an hour in defense of himself and the proposed project and wrapped up by saying "I hope that maybe you got some of your answers about me and who I am and what my goals are for this community, and while they may be different than your goals, they're good goals and they are quality goals and they are big aspirations. Trust me we are going to need some luck to be able to pull it all off and to be as successful as we would really like to be, but if we get there, this will probably be one of the premier and most stellar communities to live in in Colorado."
Bestall also spoke during the meeting to help clarify some of the terms of the agreement. Bestall spoke about the proposed 60 acre-feet of water storage that would be built and dedicated to the town if the agreement were to go through.
"Fraser's water status will be enhanced, that is the bottom line. Fraser currently lacks adequate local water storage. It needs both to meet state requirements and it also needs improvements to its water systems. These are significant. The storage will firm Fraser's water rights that financially could be a major burden to Fraser on its own. With the storage, the agreement will address water responsibilities as well will include maintaining Fraser River flows, which are beneficial for the entire town and of course environmental quality. Finally an expanded Fraser water system with more users means more fee revenue, which will help gain greater financial stability for Fraser and potentially lower rates [for its users]," Bestall said.
"We think this is not only a development paying its way but we think this is perhaps an economic driver for Fraser, which, if we can partner on this thing, could really be a big benefit," Bestall said. "The board has made sure there are few risks for the town while there are many important benefits if this property is annexed."
Fraser town position
"No agreement is foolproof," said Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin. "But I am confident of the provisions we have in this agreement to protect the town and its interests.
"Without this storage we are at risk of having to turn off Fraser wells as water becomes more and more scarce," he said.
"Regardless of any future growth, the Town of Fraser is going to continue to experience the increased costs of service provisions across the board. Rate payers will face expensive infrastructure that can only be funded via PIFs (plant investment fees) or rate increases, we need this infrastructure," Durbin said. "While this annexation agreement isn't perfect, no deal is ever perfect or fully favors one side, nonetheless I believe this deal provides the town with improvements that are necessary for the community and consistent with the mission of our water fund.
Durbin went on to say the annexation of the property will provide residents benefits otherwise very costly and or difficult to achieve. The annexation also would grant the town control over the property, "which is significant," he said.
The property is currently zoned to be developed in unincorporated Grand County, and if the developer decided to build in unincorporated Grand County rather than annex to the Town of Fraser, the town would not have control over the property.
"It would be our recommendation to pursue approval of the annexation agreement, annexations, zoning of the property, and other related matters," Durbin said.
The proposed Byers Peak Annexation would, if approved, add to Fraser an area south of town that eventually would consist of 530 detached and 905 attached residential units, 550 lodging units and RV sites, and 270,000 square feet of mixed use, commercial, and industrial units built out over a 35-year period on a 295-acre parcel.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334