Granby Ranch’s new developer proposes big revisions to town agreements
Granby Ranch’s developer has put forth an ambitious request to revise long-standing agreements with the town, but town leaders are already preparing to reel back some of the major asks.
The Granby Ranch omnibus agreement is an overarching contract that would cover a number of issues between the developer and Granby. As presented to the town board, a draft of the agreement would allow for shifting density within the Granby Ranch neighborhood, hunting on the property, a new concrete batch plant and adjustments to water rights.
The board has not made any decisions on the agreement, which is still in draft form. When the contract was brought up to town trustees, the town attorney cautioned that the proposal heavily favored Granby Ranch’s developer, GR Terra and GRCO.
Asked for comment, the attorney representing GR Terra and GRCO, David Richardson, explained that the proposal is meant to be a starting point.
“The omnibus agreement that we submitted was a draft to start the discussion and that was made clear in the cover email that went along with it,” Richardson said while expressing his frustration about being contacted the day before Thanksgiving for comment.
“I assume the town will have comment and reactions and suggestions, so certainly it’s a starting place for conversation to reach a mutually acceptable resolution and solution to the issues mentioned in that agreement,” he continued.
Town Manager Ted Cherry said that the proposal as presented looks pretty one-sided, but that the town would not be accepting anything without thorough discussions. He said the hope is that a final agreement will help clean up a tangle of agreements between Granby and Granby Ranch.
“There’s a number of these things within all of these previous documents out there that need to get cleaned up a little bit from our perspective as well, so we’re hoping we can come to some agreements on things,” Cherry said.
Granby’s town board has been negotiating the drafted contract in executive sessions since at least the end of September. Cherry explained that the town hopes to focus on some long-awaited road repairs and water rights.
Cherry made it clear that some of the requests in Granby Ranch’s draft agreement are impossible or would need to go through different processes for approval.
For example, Granby Ranch’s request to allow hunting on the property simply won’t happen.
“The town code is pretty clear that the discharge of weapons and projectiles is illegal,” Cherry said. “That’s the stance that our police department is taking too.”
Some major changes outlined in the proposed omnibus agreement relate to Granby Ranch’s annexation agreement and planned development overlay district plan.
The existing annexation agreement put Granby Ranch inside town limits in exchange for various concessions, while the planned development overlay district plan outlines where future construction will take place within Granby Ranch.
Cherry explained that amending the development plan can’t be done with the omnibus agreement, and any changes would have to go through the town’s planning commission before a public hearing with the board. Cherry emphasized that these changes would have to be done through a public process, with Richardson agreeing that additional work would need to happen.
“I think the document contemplated that in the first place, that there are different procedures and processes that need to be undertaken by the town to accomplish what’s been set forth in the agreement,” Richardson said.
As drafted, the proposed omnibus agreement would allow Granby Ranch to increase residential density for various planning areas without amending the developer’s preliminary plan, so long as the total number of units and square footage for the overall development remain the same.
Cherry felt that from a town engineering and planning perspective, he wants to get more information on the specifics of where that density could change.
Cherry also said the town has received an application to amend the development plan, but that it was incomplete. He added that the town is working with the developer to get those documents together and hopefully bring something forward that is agreeable to the planning commission and town board.
The drafted omnibus agreement would further revise what’s permissible on Quarry Hill. The proposal would add a concrete batch plant and allow the material to be sold inside and outside Granby Ranch. The agreement proposes permitting sand, gravel and concrete operations through at least June 2028.
As part of the existing development plan for Granby Ranch, the developer is already permitted to operate a sand and gravel pit. Cherry explained that potentially adding concrete operations would have to be a part of the planning process.
As for what could actually change with the draft omnibus agreement, Cherry said it would likely relate to roads and water.
A number of roads in Granby Ranch have been failing for years, and the former developer of Granby Ranch previously agreed to complete $3.2 million worth of repairs. While the worst problems were fixed in 2019, a large portion of the repairs has not been completed.
The town has stopped the current developer of Granby Ranch from selling certain lots until the repairs are made.
“The roads, we’re all on board with getting those fixed,” Cherry said. “That certainly is a benefit to the town and the residents that live up there. And it’s a benefit to the developer as well because they’re able to get some other houses and lots sold that are on those roads.”
Per the proposed omnibus agreement, the developer promises to complete the repairs on the development’s dilapidated roads in exchange for the bonds the town has been collecting to finance the repairs. Those bonds are anticipated to total more than $1.7 million.
Additionally, the agreement would have the town repeal any sales restrictions that still exist on developer-owned land in Granby Ranch.
However, the agreement does not outline any performance guarantees for those roads once they have been repaired, and the town would waive owner obligations for any other road construction now and in the future.
Cherry said ensuring that the roads hold up over time would be a requirement.
“We will hold them to the same standards that we hold every developer,” he said. “They’ll have to provide performance bonds (and) a warranty. That’s what got us into this mess currently: Things didn’t get constructed correctly. That’s why we have those processes in place, so that we as a town can make sure residents are protected.”
Cherry explained that he’s still getting his head wrapped around the requests related to water rights. He added that the town is working with water engineers and the town’s lawyers to better understand the development’s ask.
He said the town has communicated with the developer about the process for amending the development plan and that staff would send GR Terra and GRCO some comments on the omnibus agreement draft.
Cherry added that while there’s not a specific timeline for revising the agreement, conversations would continue until both parties come to an consensus. Richardson said the developer hopes to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
“The sooner the better, I think, for everybody because there’s a lot of subject matter there, a lot of interest to get things going at Granby Ranch and getting some of these matters discussed in the omnibus agreement underway,” Richardson said.
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