“We realize they’re there…”
It is no secret that the Lake Irwin Coalition (LIC), a group of Irwin property owners, does not like the development plans of Eleven. Eleven, under the auspices of Scarp Ridge LLC, hopes to build and expand its commercial operation located above the lake with new cabins and homes, an events venue, a rerouted trail to Scarp’s Ridge, new hiking and biking trails and other recreational amenities and an eventual renovation of the existing Irwin Lodge.
That proposal is in the Sketch Plan review phase with Gunnison County. The U.S. Forest Service is also involved since the current trail route easement up to Scarp Ridge follows a Forest Service road.
The LIC has written what it is calling a “Community Alternative Plan” for the Eleven property. They have sent the 13-page plan to Eleven executives and the Forest Service. The plan basically calls for retaining the current hiking trail easement, allowing six fewer cabin structures and eliminating some of the proposed amenities such as the zip-line.
“It is not the Coalition’s desire to prevent the development of legitimate business activities by SRLLC or anyone else,” the LIC states in its plan introduction. “It is our desire to protect realistic and effective public access to public land. The Scarp Ridge area of Lake Irwin is an asset that belongs to the public and should be appreciated by all of us….. The proponents must simply adjust their business plan expectations to match the reality of public access easements across its property as it historically and presently exists.”
LIC president David Gottorff admits the LIC plan scales back the current proposal but he views it as being more in line with the historical use of the property.
“We realize they’re there,” he said. “We don’t expect them to go away but we want them to be reasonable with their plan. We want them to move forward within the existing county [Land Use Resolution] and Forest Service easements. They need to work within the existing frameworks of what’s already up there.”
The LIC claims that the Forest Service easement along its road does not allow that road to be used to access rental units. So the LIC plan eliminates six of the eight new cabins proposed by Scarp Ridge LLC. The LIC plan also eliminates the proposed water treatment facility, the “kid’s village” and the zip-line. The LIC wants to retain the current easement that allows access to Scarp Ridge but wants to move the parking lot from the lodge to an area a couple hundred yards above the lodge.
“From our point of view, we are giving them a lot of concessions,” said Gottorff. “They can expand their business operations and renovate the lodge along with the existing buildings and build a couple of 5,000-square-foot cabins as they have requested. We don’t want them to get rid of the current public access. They can keep that and still provide a lot of jobs to the area.”
Scarp Ridge project manager John Featherman said the company is going through the proper public process and addressing concerns. “Scarp Ridge, LLC has completed the Gunnison County Sketch Plan process over the past year and received positive support for the plan from the public. We received approval from the Planning Commission and County Commissioners with conditions that we will meet when we submit the Preliminary Plan later this year,” he said. “Everything in the Sketch Plan complies with the Gunnison County Land Use Resolution as determined by the Planning Commission and County Commissioners.
“We are now in the application process with the Forest Service,” Featherman continued. “And we look forward to their guidance on designated times and processes for public input to review our specific proposals.”
The LIC will meet with Forest Service representatives to discuss the idea on Tuesday, June 24 in Gunnison. Forest Service personnel said they haven’t had the chance to look over the proposal but on the face of it, the agency doesn’t agree with the LIC interpretation of the easement along the road to Scarp’s Ridge.
“With regard to the easement stipulations: There is no interest in changing this stipulation. We do not concur with Lake Irwin Coalition’s interpretation,” said Forest Service spokesperson Lee Ann Loupe. “The stipulation(s) in the referenced easement do not bar the building of rental cabins. This provision is included to allow opportunity for the Forest Service to determine if changes to the road design, traffic control measures, maintenance, etc. would be needed should the level of use change.”
The LIC hopes to present the plan to the county when public comment is reopened over the Scarp Ridge LLC plan.