Letter: Is the Roam Development a fair business deal for the town of Winter Park?
February 2, 2018
Is the Roam Development a fair business deal for the town of Winter Park?
I attended the Jan. 30 Winter Park Planning Commission meeting, which included discussion on the proposed 172- acre Final Development Plan (FDP) for Roam (a.k.a., Beaver's). I am very excited to see this development and I am in favor of the annexation. The annexation has many benefits for both the town of Winter Park and the Fraser River Development Company (FRDC). This parcel with river access, Highway 40 access, is contiguous with the National Forest, and the future southern gateway to the town is very valuable to the developer. This is an important annexation and the provisions included in the FDP should be carefully reviewed. (This document is available on the Town Web site). From my many years dealing with development from both sides of the table in growing municipalities, the FDP with Vested Rights Development Guide as currently proposed is not a fair deal for the town of Winter Park.
My major concerns are the inadequate open space, inadequate Fraser River Easement and access, vested rights for 20 years and the cost burden to the town.
The developer in his presentation indicated that 55 percent to 60 percent of the land would probably be undeveloped due to flood plain, wet lands and steep slopes. When pressed by the staff and commissioners, he backed down and only agreed to abide by the Federal Flood Plain and Wetland regulations. This may sound good, but these statements are misleading. In fact, federal regulations allow to building within the flood plain and wetlands if mitigation takes place. The reader should be aware, the FDP calls for only 4.2 percent of the development to be guaranteed open space. How much open space will be provided: 55 percent or 4.2 percent? The percentage of open space should be stipulated now, not later, and it should be more than 4.2 percent. The town should also receive more than 5.5 acres of park for Porphyry Park.
The FDP calls for an easement of only 16 feet along the east side only of the Fraser. Right now, nothing prevents development to the edge of the Fraser flood way on the west side, and the building heights can be up to 75 feet. Will we have the canyons of "17th Street, Denver" right here in the Fraser Valley? How large should the Fraser River corridor ultimately be? I think the easement should be increased.
The town should also minimize its cost risks.
Nothing in the FPD limits the cost to the town. The FDP allows changes to be at the developer's sole discretion, (not by mutual agreement) and the expenses to be paid entirely by the town. I would also like to see how much revenue the town expects to receive from the real estate development transfer fee.
This annexation will set the future of the town for the next 20 years or more. The town should require much more from the developer than what is stipulated in this document for the quality of life of its current and future residents. The town board is currently working on the final annexation agreement. However, if the FDP, which was before the planning commission on Jan. 30, is any indication of the final annexation and development agreement, I worry the town will not benefit from a fair and balanced agreement.
I would encourage others to get involved with this great project and familiarize themselves with the agreements.
Gary Behlen, Winter Park