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High-density developments sought in unincorporated La Plata County

Developers say corridor between Durango, Bayfield ripe for growth
Some La Plata County developers are seeking high-density developments.

Some developers in the unincorporated parts of La Plata County are seeking higher-density developments.

At least that’s the takeaway from a handful of La Plata County properties that had their land-use designation changed Thursday.

A few times a year, the La Plata County Planning Commission hears what’s called “map amendments” for property owners who want to change the listed land-use designation on their land.

A map amendment is not an approval for actual development or a green light for construction – it’s just changing what is allowable. Actual projects for construction would have to go through a further review process.

On Thursday, four property owners sought to change their land-use designation with one common theme: higher-density development. All were approved by the Planning Commission.

Heartwood Ranch – Bayfield

A 360-acre property near Bayfield was changed from agricultural-residential (one unit per 10 to 35 acres) to perimeter residential (one unit per 5 to 35 acres).

The property is part of the Heartwood Ranch subdivision, about 1 mile west of Bayfield and about a quarter-mile north of U.S. Highway 160.

The subdivision currently has 24 homes. In the past few years, developers have worked to improve access near Highway 160 and County Road 506 and now plan to build 14 new homes on about 3 acres as part of Phase 2 of the neighborhood.

Because developers are committing about 200 acres as open space, there is leeway in construction plans to cluster homes.

“The Bayfield/Gem Village corridor is in a transitional period with increased development planned for the corridor,” the developers wrote in their proposal. “The character of the area is changing and will continue to ... but this map amendment will not cause those changes.”

SKTM Properties – Florida Mesa

An 82-acre property with one home on it now has approval for up to 82 homes.

The property, west of Durango at 30723 Highway 160, was changed from agricultural-rural residential (one unit per 10 to 20 acres) to suburban density residential (one unit per 1 to 3 acres).

As it stands, there’s only one single-family home and an outbuilding on the property. Now, up to 82 homes could be built, though the developers in their proposal do not make clear plans for future development.

“(Florida Mesa’s) district plan admits that the Florida Mesa’s future growth ‘will surely come,’ and this land-use amendment would help anticipate this growth in a way that provides the desired ‘cumulative effects’ of future development,” developers wrote in their proposal.

Echo Family LLC – Florida Mesa

An estimated 22 acres can now include a high-density commercial and residential development.

The property – located east of Durango at 33517 Highway 160 near Recla Metals – was changed from a residential designation to mixed-use (six units per acre, both residential and commercial).

The property owners, Echo Family LLC and Michael and Tammy Price, wrote in their proposal that the area is growing and is prime for mixed-use development.

“This location between Durango and Gem Village has been leaning toward becoming a growth hub for mixed uses and is currently improving the infrastructure to support it,” according to the proposal.

Kain property – Florida Mesa

About 13 acres near the intersection of County Road 302 and Heart Lane, atop Florida Mesa, was changed from agricultural-rural residential (one unit per 10 to 20 acres) to large-lot residential (one unit per 3 to 10 acres).

The property owners, Laurie and Gary Kain, say they want to subdivide one lot, totaling 3 acres, from the 13-acre parcel to build a single-family home. The Kains said the proposal is consistent with other homes in the area.

“The home planned for this property will be a small, single-family home consistent with the desires of the county to offer more affordable housing,” according to the proposal.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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