Only yet-to-be sold lots will be affected
In an effort to pressure Buckhorn Ranch developer Richard Landy into honoring his contractual obligations, the Gunnison County commissioners have directed their attorney to draft a resolution enacting a stay on the issuance of building permits for all of the development’s yet-to-be sold lots.
Landy says the action could force him into foreclosure. The commissioners will consider the resolution at their December 4 regular meeting.
"We can choose to revisit the enactment at any time," said chairman Hap Channell at the commissioners’ meeting on November 20.
The subdivision, located just south of Crested Butte, has been beset by a number of problems, including water pipes that are prone to freezing, delaminating road surfaces and drainage, and landscaping issues.
Moreover, two Stallion Park deed-restricted apartment buildings—the first of a planned eight to be built—allegedly exceeded the development’s height restrictions, sparking a lawsuit by Buckhorn Ranch lot owner Michael Weiner.
Because the subdivision falls under the auspices of the county permitting process, the county commissioners and staff have taken a lead role in compelling Landy to address the development’s shortcomings.
While the update on the progress of improvements drew fewer Buckhorn lot owners and residents than past county meetings on the subject, several owners were in attendance and at least one new issue was raised.
Buckhorn Ranch Homeowners Association president Grant Bremer pointed out a leak in the development’s water system.
"Last year it was reported to me by the manager of the water company approximately 20,000 gallons a day have been unaccounted for," he said.
Twenty thousand gallons is equivalent to the amount of water held by a 16-by-32-foot swimming pool.
Jerry Burgess, an engineer hired by Landy to oversee the project at the behest of the commissioners, said it was the first he had heard "of something pretty significant."
Landy, who owns the company that provides water to the development, said he was aware of "a couple of leaks," but the amount leaking was down.
"There may be some leakage, but not anything that’s going to prevent us from providing water to the subdivision," he said.
"It’s not a major issue," he added.
Commissioner Paula Swenson disagreed, however. She said such a leak could be a problem for the homeowners.
"If water is leaking, even though you have a flat fee, you can raise the fee to the homeowners association," she said. "And these leaks can become to costly."
After the meeting Landy’s water manager Jack Dietrich said he suspected a 20,000 gallon-a-day leak last summer. However, Dietrich said currently the development is using a total of 8,000 to 10,000 gallons per day, which he said is normal for a development of that size.
"I think if we’re losing any water, it’s minimal," he said.
Aside from the possible leak, Burgess said, the project is well on its way to meeting all the infrastructure improvements the county has asked for. Burgess said issues with the utilities, including water, sewer, electric and gas, had been addressed.
"As of today, they are complete," he said.
Burgess said the roads now exceed the nine inches of road base mandated by county standards because extra road base has been added to cover shallow utility lines running under the roads.
However, Burgess said he couldn’t ascertain their integrity at this time because the cold temperatures now make it difficult to test whether the layers of chip seal are properly adhering.
"We’re going to withhold judgment on that until next summer," he said.
While commissioner Jim Starr said he was encouraged by the progress being made on the outstanding issues that have plagued the subdivision, he said he favored enacting the stay on building permits for any yet-to-be-sold Buckhorn Ranch lots.
"It becomes an issue of letting buyers know what the potential problems are," he said.
Landy said he might be forced into foreclosure if the commissioners chose to stop the issuance of building permits.
"If you enact this you are basically eliminating any sales of Buckhorn Park," he said.
However, Swenson said the commissioners had already amended the Development Improvement Agreement for Buckhorn Ranch six times in order to assist the troubled development.
"We have been very accommodating for over a decade," she told Landy.
The commissioners closed the discussion after agreeing to further discuss the building permit stay at the Gunnison Board of County Commissioner’s meeting on December 4.