Roads are still an area of concern
What was at times a contentious discussion about needed improvements to the Buckhorn Ranch subdivision ended with some understanding between several homeowners and developer Dick Landy on Wednesday, July 23.
The four-hour tour and meeting, mediated by the Board of County Commissioners and the county attorney, separated two agreements regarding repairs or upgrades to the subdivision. The first is the Development Improvement Agreement, which is the contract listing the work required by Gunnison County; the second is a work list agreement between Landy and Buckhorn Ranch homeowners.
Since the incorporation of the 280 acres by Landy in 1998, the development has been fraught with problems with poor drainage, lagging road maintenance and infrastructural needs.
To come into compliance with the Development Improvement Agreement (DIA), the county directed Landy to improve road conditions at Buckhorn Ranch, and to address some smaller projects. As a result, much of Wednesday’s discussion focused on the needs of the chip-seal roads that have had areas of failure since they were first installed in the fall of last year.
The areas of most concern were two cul-de-sacs where trucks had made sharp turns and torn the chip-seal surface. The chip-seal road surface that was originally installed didn’t cure properly, leaving areas of the road weak.
Because the roads were part of the DIA, Landy is under contract to bring them into compliance with the county’s standards. According to Landy, the road repairs were completed on Friday, July 25, two days after the tour, except for one area that will not be resurfaced until the patches have had more time to set up.
“Jerry Burgess is meeting with Allen to do an inspection and we’ve done everything, so we’ll be looking to get that taken off the list. Once that is done we’ll be ready to ask for the reduction [in the letters of credit]” said Landy during a phone interview on Tuesday, July 29, referring to deposit being held by the county.
With many of the subdivision’s infrastructure issues being resolved, Landy wants some of the deposit money being held by the county released.
“I don’t want you to hold up the letter of credit at the $3 million that we’re at when we’ve got all the sewer, water, electrical, gas and phone in, because there are six cul-de-sacs that may need something,” said Landy during the meeting on Wednesday, July 23.
Commissioner Hap Channell said that he wanted the county to hold some of that deposit money in case more of the development’s roads needed resurfacing.
“I would like to hold enough of the security in case the ‘may need work’ becomes a ‘does need work,’” said Channell.
County attorney David Baumgarten agreed, while also being cautious about releasing the deposit money prematurely.
“[The improvements] may give us the foundation to reduce a letter of credit, but I think that if that’s an experiment that works then I want to make sure that we have enough security retained to do the other [repairs] if we have to,” he said.
In an effort to lessen the chance of damage being done to the roads in the future, Landy said, “We need to have at least a part-time manager out here watching this on a daily basis, and that is something we actually put it in the budget for this year.”
In addition, Landy supports a decision by the Buckhorn homeowner’s association to hold a $6,000 deposit from contractors as part of the review process as a way to discourage contractors from staging equipment on the road and reduce the chance of further damage to the road surface.
Having a management presence, said Baumgarten, would provide some protection against damage, or at least would hold the appropriate person accountable for damage, while the chip-seal is curing. Such a move would provide some insurance for the homeowners who will eventually take on the costs of maintaining the roads.
“Our concern as homeowners is that the product that we inherit from that point on is something that we’re going to have to deal with every year,” said Buckhorn homeowner Fran Guy. “If we’re at this stage of the game right now and it hasn’t been turned over to us, I can just see that it is going to be ‘open up your wallet and let the money come flying out every year.’”
Although the discussion of the roads provided some of the liveliest debate, the county also addressed concerns about water leaking from the lakes on the property, and also included the reclamation of common areas in the DIA. The placement of street signs and the installation of culverts to improve drainage were also addressed.
One area of agreement between Landy and the homeowners was that a ball field that had been specified in the DIA should be reconsidered, since no one seemed to want it. Instead, the homeowners asked if the money that would have been used for the field’s construction could be placed in an account for another purpose at a later date.
“Dr. Landy is obligated to construct [the ball field], based at least in part on requests by the Town of Crested Butte to alleviate demands on Town facilities and a change in that requirement would require a formal amendment to the land use change approval,” says Baumgarten. However, all sides felt such a solution was the right one.
The deadline for the completion of work detailed in the DIA is October 31. Landy is confident that the engineers and contractors working on the projects will have no problem meeting the requirements of the agreement by the middle of August.
The county commissioners also made it clear that they would not address the issues related to the subdivision that were not part of the agreement, such as the specific condition of a recreation path that had been identified in the DIA only as being “earthen,” or the presence of an equestrian center on the property. Both issues were raised by homeowners.
Wednesday’s round of discourse between Landy and the county represents the latest developments in a subdivision process that was started in the 1970s and got final approval in April 2004.
“I’d just like to get to the point where we can say that we’ve done what we were supposed to do,” said Landy. “I’m just trying to get to a plateau where the county will sign off that we’ve done what we’re supposed to do. I want you to know that this is my baby and I don’t want to mess it up.”