Commissioners approve sketch plan for affordable housing in Red Hawk Ranch

Renderings show the proposed three-story buildings that would house affordable housing as presented by Red Hawk Ranch’s developer. Commissioners approved the sketch plan for the three buildings totalling 72 units with a number of conditions.
Commissioner’s packet/Grand County

Grand County commissioners have approved a sketch plan for workforce housing in Red Hawk Ranch despite the increase in units from the preliminary plat.

In October, commissioners approved the preliminary plat for Red Hawk Ranch, near Tabernash, which included 46 units on two tracts. The sketch plan for those two tracts, which was first presented to commissioners at the Jan. 25 meeting, increased the number of units to 70.

Due to the discrepancy and a number of questions, commissioners continued the discussion to Tuesday’s meeting.

“As proposed, this does not comply with the preliminary plat,” County Manger Ed Moyer said Tuesday.

Jeff Vogel of Vogel and Associates, representing developer Graceland Holdings, explained that the change was made to make an affordable housing project feasible.

“We thought we were going to be going down a market rate path,” Vogel said. “We since then found a workforce housing developer, they got financing (and) we got into a program — that’s how it evolved into where we got to today.”

Typically, sketch plans reflect the preliminary plat. The county’s legal council explained that the commissioners could still OK the sketch plan as long as one of their conditions for approval is that the preliminary plat would have to be approved with the amendment to account for the additional units.

All three commissioners expressed their hesitancy over a sketch plan that didn’t match the already-approved preliminary plat.

“I’ll have a hard time looking at the neighbors in the eye, but I’m leaning toward trying to get these 72 units that are truly affordable housing because the community needs them so badly,” Commissioner Rich Cimino said.

Another condition of approval of the sketch plan relates to an agreement ensuring that the 72 units would have a rent restriction requirement, to be approved by the county’s housing authority, ensuring that these units serve Grand County residents with an average median income between 80-120%.

According to data presented to the Grand County board of adjustment last month, this would equal a monthly rent of $1,183-$1,774 for a one bedroom unit or $1,420-$2,130 for a two bedroom unit depending on the number of people in the household.

As presented, the three buildings that would house these 72 units would be three stories tall and made up of 25% one bedroom and 75% two bedroom units.

Vogel pointed out that affordable housing was not a requirement of the Red Hawk project.

“We’ve seen a significant need,” he said. “We’ve reached out to employers, stakeholders in the community … and we’ve had a lot expressed interest in this type of housing. We just feel like there’s a huge void and this is an opportunity to fill it.”

One sticking point for neighbors was the height and density of these three-story buildings in a relatively wide open area — to the north of the proposed building is a residential home, with undeveloped parcels to the south and west and the Crooked Creek open space corridor to the east.

Becky Arnold, who lives in the home north of the property, condemned the commissioners for not following the preliminary plat.

“I do not understand this process. This isn’t a poker game,” she said. “You can’t just take chips here and put them there. The preliminary plat means something. Public comment means something.”

Commissioners noted that the developer did try to take into account Arnold’s concerns, adjusting the buildings and their positioning to impact her home’s sightlines as little as possible.

According to county code, the heights for these three buildings would typically be restricted to 35 feet, but the board of adjustment is currently looking at a variance allowing an additional 5 feet. Another condition of approval for the sketch plan is the approval of this height variance, which the board of adjustment will be discussing Wednesday.

The commissioners unanimously approved the sketch plan with conditions.

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