Grand County approves final plat for controversial timeshare
Sky-Hi Daily News
Once it looked like The Ridge timeshare project would be approved in Winter Park Ranch, full-time residents Ron and Janie Glos decided they didn’t want to live there anymore.
“My house is for sale because of this project,” Janie said.
The Ridge is proposed to be built practically in their backyard, after county commissioners’ approval Tuesday following a two-hour public hearing on the final plat.
Many Winter Park Ranch residents were afraid this would happen.
A neighbor to the future project, Corin Woods, was so disappointed tears formed in her eyes after the meeting. She was upset, mostly, for her neighbors who she feels had been treated poorly during the lengthy and involved proceedings.
“It’s the way the county so disrespects its citizens who did a ton of work and found errors on this project,” Woods said. She was offended that she and her neighbors have been referred to as “Nimbys” or “not in my back yard” complainers.
“That’s not the point of this,” she said. “It’s having a commercial entity in a residentially zoned district.”
For taxation purposes, state law defines timeshares as residential. And the county zoning regulations allow for multi-family units in Winter Park Ranch if they are owned, not rented out. Since Silverleaf will be selling week-long slots to buyers, County Attorney Jack DiCola says the project conforms to Winter Park Ranch zoning.
The 136-unit timeshare project will be located on 15.32 acres, surrounded by mostly single-family homes.
Despite neighboring residents’ efforts to derail the project by calling out possible misleads, hiccups in county processes, the interpretation of what is “commercial,” and “commercial” dossiers on other Silverleaf timeshare projects, commissioners Gary Bumgarner and Nancy Stuart voted for the project.
“One point I would like to make is it’s our job when things come before us to make sure all rules have been met,” Stuart said.
She pointed out that people usually don’t want government to interfere in property rights.
“If you buy the land, if you follow the rules, you should be able to do what you want,” she said.
Bumgarner also relied on the law in his decision.
“We are sworn in to follow the laws as they are in the Constitution in the state of Colorado,” he said. “It’s said as law that timeshares are treated as residential.”
Commissioner James Newberry opposed the project, touching on a larger subject that he said he feels needs to be addressed countywide.
“Along the lines of commercial, there are other units, other ‘commercial’ properties being rented out for less than 30 days,” he said about short-term rental properties in Winter Park Ranch that are zoned residential.
“It’s a huge can of worms on how we’re going to regulate those. And people say, ‘Silverleaf is coming to you honestly, rather than other projects that are approved single-family and eventually become timeshares,'” he said. “I see this as more than just a condominium use; it seems more like a commercial endeavor . . . I still have an issue with commercial. If we go in the direction I want to go, again, it’s not going to be popular anywhere in the county.”
Commissioners approved the Silverleaf project despite its potential to compound the existing nightly rental dilemma prevalent in Winter Park Ranch. Although Silverleaf plans to sell each unit in week-long slots, it is beyond their control on whether future owners will opt to rent out their time for less than a week.
And, commercial-type endeavors, such as a ski shop, could crop up within the property if it’s not deemed public, limited to timeshare-association members only.
Neighbors also stated concerns about the development’s impacts to water quantity.
“Sure, there’s water on paper, but we’re in drought central, and there’s no proof (that the area will have enough) until there is water in the ground,” Janie Glos said.
Neighbors called out county errors along the way, such as a gross miscalculation in the school-impact fee the developer is required to pay. Becky Rand, who lives on Mulligan Street, found an error that showed Silverleaf being expected to pay $27,000 rather than the accurate $591,000.
County Attorney Jack DiCola, who on a tape was caught by neighbors saying something indecorous about Glos after she’d left the room during a county commissioners meeting on the matter (he later apologized), stated that he appreciates the diligence citizens have shown. The school fee error was missed until Rand re-calculated it. DiCola said that such discoveries are examples of how citizens can help government, which is appreciated.
Neighbors called out the declarations or covenants of the future Ridge development, which from Winter Park Ranch citizen Mark Baker’s standpoint had about seven parts that contained “commercial standard language.” Commissioners and the county planner pointed out that zoning regulations supersede covenants.
Neighbors also complained that commissioners acceptance of evidence relative to their decision on The Ridge after commissioners said they would no longer take evidence was a violation of Sunshine Laws. The county manager explained that the “evidence” was follow-up research to a question that had come up during the public meeting about how many nightly rentals there were in Meadow Ridge.
Neighbors said that Silverleaf’s list of concessions for The Ridge, such as switching parking around to create a buffer for neighbors, reducing density by two, reducing lengths of buildings, creating a berm, dropping three-story buildings to two-stories, was merely a part of the county’s ultimate acceptance of the project. And Silverleaf’s attempt to meet with neighbors about the project was a weak effort, Woods said, in that it was scheduled mid-week at 4 p.m. with little notice.
But in the end, it was the cold, hard law that clinched the project for Silverleaf.
In reference to the “commercial” guise of the project, however, citizens had hoped for something else.
“All we citizens are asking for is common sense,” Rand said.
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