Granby to adjust financing for easement on former Shorefox property

Granby is revising an ambitious agreement with the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust for a piece of land that should be able to find the financing to build a trail system.

The town owns a portion of the former Shorefox property near US Highway 40 and US Highway 34 that trustees hope to turn into a public trails system. The plan is to put 739 acres, plus parts of the Colorado River that the town owns, into a conservation easement.

In early 2020, Granby entered into an agreement with the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust promising to donate a portion of the land and pay just over $60,000 in legal expenses in exchange for nearly $3 million, roughly 70% of the land value. The money would go toward creating trails and other amenities, and the contract was to be finalized by December 2021.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and dried up the sources of funding that Jeremy Krones, the land trust’s executive director, had planned to apply for. The only grant that has been awarded to the project so far is $750,000 from the Grand County Open Lands, River and Trails Fund.

On Tuesday, Krones explained to the board that because of these shortfalls, he was requesting that the financial agreement be reworked and the contract extended. Instead of a 70% commitment equal to nearly $3 million, CHLT would contribute 35% of the value or just under $1.5 million. This would increase the town’s contribution in the form of land donation.

Krones outlined the funding he was still pursuing with the project, including a Colorado Parks and Wildlife program that could bring $400,000 with some strings attached. Because the land is a major wildlife corridor, there are areas that would be restricted from the public and a winter closure.

Krones was optimistic about the town’s chances to get this grant along with other funding sources from corporate sponsors, the Gates Family Foundation and more. The land trust’s goal would be nearly $1.5 million, including the $750,000 already raised.

The land is part of a $4.5 million purchase Granby made in 2016. That purchase included roughly 1,500 acres of land, of which 400 acres were later sold to Sun Communities for $6.2 million.

With the deal, the town made about $1.7 million and kept 1,100 acres. The conservation easement with Colorado Headwaters Land Trust would be on 739 acres of that remaining land.

After some discussions, trustees said they were agreeable to both the funding change and the contract extension. Town staff said they would come back to the board with the revisions.

In other business:

• Trustees held a public hearing on possibly rezoning the property at 643 E. Jasper Court from Multiple-Family Residential Medium Density District, known as R-2, to Highway General Business. The applicant said the property has always been used commercially, so it didn’t make sense to have the mixed-use zoning.

Changing the zoning would leave the property with R-2 neighbors on either side. However, this wouldn’t be spot zoning because the property directly across the street is zoned as highway general business.

Adjusting the zoning would open up the property to more commercial uses that not all neighbors were excited about.

Seeing both sides, the trustees said they were torn over the decision. The board closed the public hearing, meaning they won’t hear any more evidence, but decided to mull over the zoning changing until the next board meeting.

• After hearing about Fraser and Winter Park’s plan to potentially form a regional housing authority, trustees gave town staff direction to continue discussions with those towns. Nothing is set in stone yet, but board members said they’d like to keep the dialogue open for potentially joining this housing authority.

• The board appointed Lauren Huber, executive director of Destination Granby, to the town’s parks committee.

• Trustees approved the memorandum of understanding for the Grand County Drought Preparedness Plan.

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