Town of Fraser fields questions about landscaping in ‘Fraser Meadow’
Grand County, Colorado
The landscaping project going on at the Grand Park development in Fraser, Colorado, has raised questions and criticism by some residents in recent weeks.
The Grand Park development comprises most of what is locally known as the “Fraser Meadow,” the large open meadow that abuts the northern boundary of the town of Winter Park and extends northward about a mile to the area of the Bank of the West. The meadow parallels U.S. Highway 40 and the Fraser River Trail.
Landscaping work at Grand Park is being done along the western side of the meadow. An irregular earthen berm has been raised and a number of trees have been planted.
In an Oct. 2 press release, Grand Park described the work as “first phase” of the construction of the “park amenities” that features “the addition of a series of ponds, creeks, newly installed landscaping, and trails. The water features will be surrounded by numerous natural and paved trails that will link the planned neighborhoods of Grand Park to The Village at Grand Park, now under construction.”
Since the landscaping began, some residents and visitors have criticized the work, complaining that the berm and trees are blocking traditional “view corridors.” They say it has screened off the meadow which many consider one of the more charming features of the Fraser Valley.
Those criticisms and questions have been voiced to the Town of Fraser.
“I and the town staff have been fielding a lot of these questions and concerns by residents as well as some from the town board about it,” said Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin. “Most of those questions are: ‘Can they do that?’
Durbin explained that the short answer is “Yes, they can.”
While over half of the 100-acre meadow is covered by a wetland delineation, most of the areas where the landscaping is taking place in areas where development is allowed.
Durbin also explained that Grand Park’s landscaping is “not development in the sense of paving or building,” which could be regulated by the town.
“There is nothing in any of the agreements with Grand Park about preserving view corridors,” he said. “But then again, nobody anticipated this happening either.”
“As a government, we can’t tell them or anyone else for that matter that you can’t do it because we don’t like that,” he said. “As a matter of fact, as a town government and regulatory authority, we cannot tell anyone within the town limits where they can and cannot plant trees.”
As for the earthen berms, Durbin explained the main concern the town has involves their effect on storm water and drainage.
“We’ve been watching that,” he said. “Some concerns have been expressed on what impact the berms will have and we’re looking into them. We’ll keep tabs on them, and if any changes in drainage occur, we’ll deal with that situation.”
While not minimizing the concerns of those opposed to the changes, Durbin said that they have to realize that anyone’s views are “subjective” and there are “lots of different opinions.”
“Some could argue that planting new trees is a good thing, especially with so many local trees dying because of the beetle epidemic,” he said. “And a few months ago, people were complaining about looking across the meadow and seeing the houses that were built on the far side. Now they’re not so easily seen. It comes down to what do you prefer.”
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