Melanie Zwick
Fraser, CO Colorado

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April 23, 2013
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Op-Ed: Unsuitable terms of Byers Peak Ranch annexation

For most concerned citizens, the issue is not whether the Town of Fraser annexes the property being called Byers Peak Ranch (which includes the the Colorado Adventure Park tubing hill). The real issue is the unsuitable terms of the annexation documents, including the Planned Development District (PDD).

I am not the only one who fails to see how the proposed terms would be of benefit to Fraser residents, property and business owners.

Here are just some of the unacceptable provisions in the related documents:

1. There is a convoluted payment and repayment scheme that would ultimately net the developer well more than 1,000 of his allowed 1,897 water taps for free. That is about a $10 million dollar subsidy.

2. The additional water needs required by the development would cause Fraser to make "enhancements" to the existing water system, such as making some existing wells produce more. It is proposed by faulty reasoning, in my opinion, that Fraser should pay for about half of those costs. That is about another $2 million dollar subsidy.

3. To add insult to injury, the documents propose that Fraser finance their $2 million dollar or so subsidy to pay for these "enhancements."

4. It is against Fraser Town regulations to degrade a water course. It is proposed that a reservoir (they call it a pond) be built on St. Louis Creek for municipal water storage for the Town and possibly for other uses for the developer. Any river runner or angler knows what happens to streams that have been dammed. They are ecologically damned.

5. Fraser regulations allow building heights of 35 or 45 feet depending on the zoning. The developer is allowed buildings of 55 feet in the annexation documents.

6. It is suggested that there would be economy of scale to have more water and sewer customers. This has not been shown to be the case in the past. Very long-time locals will remember what they used to pay, even considering inflation. Not so long ago, we saw how rates increased after the building of another large Fraser development. Economy of scale certainly was not working for us then.

7. The developer is given 35 years to build this project. Besides the fact that those who might live that long could spend their lives in a construction zone, no provisions are made to take into account the change in the value of a dollar over that time period.

8. It is proposed the developer give the town 6 acres which is wetlands. Unless the Town leaves it as open space as a water filter (not likely) there will be expense and ecological cost to make it "useful."

We expect the developer to be required to pay his full costs. We do not want to nor should we have to be paying for him to develop. Part of the full cost of a development is bringing enough real, wet, actual water to serve the whole development.

It is a fact that residential development does not pay for itself. Because the developer is given 35 years to build and residential is usually built before commercial (as we have seen), it will probably be many decades before the town gains back the $12-plus million in subsidies. A more likely scenario is the subsidies will never be recouped after considering the ongoing maintenance costs of roads, infrastructure and the proposed reservoirs.

The next public hearing is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, a session where the developer rather than the public speaks. It is certainly less than fair to have no time for the public to reply after the developer. The last opportunity for the public to comment is by written comments due to the town today on April 24. Hopefully, at last, the town trustees will present their respective reactions to this proposal to increase the town size by a factor of three.

Melanie Zwick has been a business owner in Fraser for 25 years as well as a property owner in the town for two decades.

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The Sky-Hi News Updated Apr 23, 2013 08:27PM Published Apr 23, 2013 08:25PM Copyright 2013 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.