A voter’s guide to the Byers Peak Annexation agreement | SkyHiNews.com

A voter’s guide to the Byers Peak Annexation agreement

On Nov. 5, Fraser voters will decide whether to annex a 295-acre parcel and accompanying development located directly southwest of the town. After six years of negotiations with the developer by three consecutive town boards, the Byers Peak Ranch annexation agreement was approved by a six to one vote in May of this year. The approved agreement was successfully petitioned by a group of Fraser residents called Fraser and Friends for Responsible Development, spearheaded by Andy Miller and Jane Mather of Fraser. The petition put the agreement to a vote of the people, which is where the agreement now sits. The Fraser and Friends for Responsible Development maintain they want to put the town in a better position by renegotiating an agreement, however the developer of the property, Byers Peak Properties, LLC, Clark Lipscomb, president, has confirmed that if the agreement were voted down, he would pursue developing the property within unincorporated Grand County. The Grand County Planning Commission already has approved preliminary sketches for a Byers Peak development, in the event it is not annexed into Fraser. Fraser voters are now faced with the decision of whether to annex the property into the town or allow for the property to be developed in the county. While the decision will be made by yes or no votes on ballots, the decision does not come easy for town residents as they weigh the pros and cons of annexation. Understanding the agreement is an arduous task. The multi-million dollar question is what exactly the town stands to lose or gain if the annexation is approved and what the town stands to lose or gain if the development is built in the county. Water storage The most important part of the Byers Peak Ranch annexation agreement in the Town of Fraser's opinion concerns water augmentation. In the existing agreement, the town has brokered with the developer for him to build and dedicate to the town two reservoirs with a total aggregate storage of 60-acre feet of water. Both proponents and opponents of the annexation agree that water storage is a necessity for the town in order to protect existing water rights the town has and to protect the water availability to Fraser's "blue zone" water users. The blue zone is comprised of "Old Town," Workshire Acres, Byer's Vista, Victoria Village, Lower Ptarmigan, Upper Ptarmigan, Forest Meadows, Wapiti Meadows, and the Fox Run subdivisions. The town needs this water augmentation for in the event senior water rights holders, located downstream of the town, call for water. In the town's current situation, if those senior water rights holders were to place a call on the river, the town potentially would have to reduce the amount of water being pumped from wells that supply blue zone users, or completely shut down pumping from these wells. In such a scenario, blue zone users could end up with less water or no water. The risk of having to reduce or stop pumping from the wells that supply the blue zone users is a reality in as few as two consecutive drought years, according to Fraser Trustee and Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Sumrall. Augmentation ponds would serve as needed back-up water. If the developer of the property were to build in unincorporated Grand County, the town would not receive these water storage facilities and would have to seek other ways to ensure blue zone users would always have water. Opponents of the annexation assert the town should have spent more time looking into alternative ways to protect the blue zone's users, and believe ponds can be built cheaper than what is outlined in the agreement. The town relied on cost estimates from its engineer and views the annexation agreement as an ideal opportunity to complete this task. The town does have other opportunities to mitigate its blue zone water needs, though most of those would be dependent on renewable agreements that would require annual payments, according to the town. There stands the possibility such agreements would not be renewed if agreeing parties needed change, Sumrall said, saying reservoirs are the best way for the town to stay in control of its future in the long-term. It is possible the town could build augmentation ponds without the Byers agreement, though currently the town does not have the financial resources to undertake such a project, he said. Building augmentation ponds without the Byers agreement would require obtaining land for pond construction, financing construction of ponds, legal fees, and paying off financing by either a mill levy or possible rate increase to the town's blue zone users. Rate increases would not be split among all town water users due to the development agreements made with Rendezvous and Grand Park, town officials said, which are serviced by the town's yellow zone water system. Rendezvous and Grand Park agreements stipulate all plant investment fees, or tap fees, paid for by new yellow zone customers go toward paying for the building and expansion of the yellow zone. Blue zone users — or 889 Fraser residents — likely would bear the full weight of paying for water augmentation if the agreement were voted down. The town engineer estimates the cost to secure water rights and build an acre-foot of water storage is $75,000, according to annexation agreement documents, bringing the cost of constructing 60-acre feet to $4.5 million. The developer would be required to build two augmentation ponds, called the Forrest Meadows Augmentation Pond and the Byers Peak Ranch Augmentation Pond, within 11 years after the agreement is enacted. The developer would pay for the design, construction, and all legal fees associated with dedicating the ponds to the town, under the annexation agreement. The money spent by the developer to construct the ponds would be recouped through collection of water tap fees once the developer begins to construct buildings on the property. The town would collect and hold the first 711 water tap fees sold in the Byers development in a separate account as security for construction of ponds, according to the annexation agreement. The town's current rate for a water tap fee is $7,700. After collecting 711 water tap fees, the account is estimated to end up with $5.5 million. The town's current well system, with minimal investment, can serve these initial water taps and the town does not anticipate having to make further upgrades until after the first 711 water taps. After the first 711 water tap fees are collected and reimbursed to the developer, the town will then begin spliting water tap fees with the developer in order to pay for further upgrades to its system, according to annexation documents. Though opponents to the annexation believe the town should split water tap fees with the developer from the beginning to ensure the development contributes to both new and existing infrastructure instead of just getting reimbursed for building the augmentation ponds. According to the existing agreement, if the cost to build the water facilities falls under $5.5 million, the town would keep the remaining balance. If the cost exceeds $5.5 million, the developer would not be reimbursed for the overage. In essence the developer is loaning the town money to construct ponds, at zero percent interest, and would be reimbursed once the ponds are completed and the town has certified cost. But opponents question the town's logic in reimbursing tap fees once the ponds are built, saying the town could come out ahead if it were to use revenue from tap fees to build augmentation ponds on its own, without relying on the developer, Clark Lipscomb. If the developer never builds a home in the development, the agreement states, the town would still have 60-acre feet of water storage and the developer would have no way of getting paid for ponds construction. The developer also agreed to give the town access to 30-acre feet of water in existing Grand Park augmentation ponds until construction of the two storage ponds.
Opponents of the annexation state they believe water tap fees should be split from the beginning to ensure this development contributes to both new and existing water infrastructure. Potential revenues and impacts Whether the development is annexed into the town, the town stands to benefit from sales tax revenues from people who move there and spend money at local businesses. However, the town may also see impacts, such as increased traffic, gravel operations and construction traffic. Revenue the town stands to lose if the development were built in the county includes property taxes, use taxes, wastewater plant investment fees and its share of the water plant fees. Using assumptions of average square-footage and maximum number of residential units, it's estimated use tax revenue would be $7.35 million upon build-out. (According to Winter Park/Fraser Building Official Harold Howland, an average home likely would be 2,000 square-feet with a 500 square-foot garage) The town would miss out on revenue from fees and taxes collected in connection with the development, but it would also not be responsible for expenses related to the development, such as providing more police protection, snow removal and street and sidewalk repair. Property taxes would be collected on an annual basis and would be based off value of properties, money sufficient enough to maintain public streets and provide police protection, according to Fraser Mayor Peggy Smith. Town officials maintain projected revenue generated from the project would exceed development-related expenses. The split structure of the water tap fees would provide the town enough revenue to expand the water system, the agreement states, as the town and Byers development grow and need more water infrastructure. The town would keep 100 percent of wastewater plant investment fees, which are presently $7,500 each. In theory, if the town had more customers paying in to its water and wastewater system, the proportionate share of basic operating costs would be less. If Byers is developed in the county, and if the developer chooses not to use the town's water system, the town would not collect water and wastewater fees from Byers residents. The developer has said he plans to construct his own water and wastewater facilities. The county would most likely negotiate some form of compensation for traffic impacts to the town if the development were built in the county; however, what those are remains unclear, according to Grand County Planner Kris Manguso. Zoning and density The planned development district plan in Fraser differs from the county sketch plan in that it has commercial zoning and more density than the county plan. Amounts of required open space are the same in the two plans. Open space under both plans is required to be at least 20 percent of the total acreage of the project. Under the town's planned development district plan there are 23.3 acres of the property zoned as mixed-use for commercial and industrial usage, comprising 7.9 percent of the property. Under the town's plan, six acres or 39,000 square feet would be dedicated to the town to use at it sees fit and 181,000 square feet would be designated for light industrial, warehouse and storage facility uses. The sketch plan submitted to the county has no portion of the property zoned for commercial use. The average density under the town's plan is 4.9 units per acre and the average density in relation to the sketch plan submitted to the county is currently labeled as "approximately 4 dwelling units per acre." Opponents to the town annexation applaud the preliminary county plan for having homes more clustered, less density and lower building heights. The town's plan currently calls for 1,897 units, while the sketch plan submitted to the county calls for 1,233 units. The county's and town's plans differ in height limits of buildings and have changes to setbacks. The developer requested and received a variance for the height limitations in portions of the town's plan of 45 feet. In the sketch plan submitted to the county, the buildings presently do not exceed 35 feet. The height variance approved by the town allows for more flexibility in architectural design of buildings, according to Lipscomb. The buildings setbacks in the county sketch plan are 30 feet. The building setbacks in the town's plan vary according to planning area and are anywhere from 20 feet to 50 feet, dependent on building height. The town negotiated for larger setbacks from Mill Avenue, comprised of 50 feet of open space trail, to preserve the views of existing structures on the north side of Mill Avenue. Under the county sketch plan, the developer is not required to increase setbacks. Land use control The Byers property is designated as a Fraser growth area in the Grand County Master Plan. The town stands to lose total control over land use and development oversight, if the development remains in-county. Town officials negotiated gravel operations associated with ponds construction, brokering a strict plan, such as limiting truck traffic during High Country Stampede Rodeos. The plan is deemed more strict than if gravel operations were permitted through the state, which may occur if the development remains in-county. The agreement limits the acerage of land the developer can excavate at one time and limits the height and duration of each gravel pile. The developer is also held responsible for street repair needed due to gravel operations. In the town's agreement, the Planned Development District Plan splits the property into 11 different development areas. The developer would have to gain approval before commencing development for each area. As it presently stands through the county, the developer would seek one approval for the whole subdivision. The town has negotiated the agreement to ensure that any purchaser of the property and accompanying agreement would be held to the same responsibilities as Byers Peak Properties, according to town officials.

Fraser residents protest Byers Peak annexation

FRASER — A petition against the town's approval of the annexation of Byers Peak Ranch development has been submitted to the Town of Fraser, with 73 signatures from people who agree with the protest. The petition needed 48 signatures to be considered valid. Although the town determined not all of the signatures were valid, the petition had enough signatures to be legitimate. Any registered elector in the Town can protest the ordinances approving the annexation until Aug. 14. The town board will now have to reexamine the ordinances and decide whether to repeal them based on the public's concern. If the town board decides not to repeal the ordinances, the town's registered electors will be able to vote on the annexation and the terms of the agreement, most likely in the November election. The group who created and submitted the petition is called Fraser and Friends for Responsible Development and is headed by two Fraser residents, Jane Mather and Andy Miller. "We are basically trying to get a little better deal for the Town of Fraser," Miller said. The newsletters highlight the concerns the group has with the agreement, including the allocation of water tap fees and the construction of water storage ponds. The group maintains agreements made are more beneficial to the developer than to the Town. The group has also voiced concerns about the way the property will be developed, saying they would like to see larger buildings hidden from view in order to protect the view of Byers Peak. "Our hope is that the town board would strike a better deal with Clark (the developer) so it won't go to election," Miller said. The annexation agreement was approved by the Fraser Board of Trustees with six yes votes and one no vote on May 29. The annexation of Byers Peak Ranch would annex a 295-acre parcel south of Mill Avenue and west of the railroad tracks to the Town of Fraser, and will give the developer a 35-year period to build 530 detached and 905 attached residential units, 550 lodging units and RV sites, and 270,000 square-feet of mixed use, commercial, and industrial units — if the developer were to completely build out the development. The developer of the project, Clark Lipscomb, president of Byers Peak Properties, LLC., stated he intends to build homes on the property that are affordable and will allow residents and newcomers the option to live and work in the Fraser Valley instead of having to live outside of the Valley due to high home prices. The town spent years and hundreds of hours working through the annexation agreement and created a subcommittee dedicated to the project. They also held numerous community meetings to help Fraser residents understand the agreement. The public hearings concerning the project had overflowing attendance of concerned citizens. Not allowing the annexation of the property could present some challenges to the town and its taxpayers.The main concerned voiced by town officials and staff is that the developer will develop the property whether it is annexed into the town or not. The developer could develop the property in unincorporated Grand County if the annexation agreement fell through, meaning the town would have no control over the development and would not see any of the taxes from the development, despite the development being in Fraser's backyard. Another concern surrounds the town's water and its ability to supply current and future residents with water. Part of the agreement is that the developer would construct and dedicate to the town two augmentation ponds that would allow the town to firm up 60 acre-feet of water rights for future use. The agreement also includes provisions for the developer to help pay for improvements to the town's water system, including well improvements and improvements to the town's wastewater plant. If the agreement fails to go through and the town does not receive the proposed water storage and improvements to its water system, the residents of the town will be stuck with those costs, according to Fraser Mayor Peggy Smith. "It will be a matter of educating the public," Smith said. "It's really going to be a challenge to get people to understand the financial ramifications [if the agreement fails]." All of the documents relating to the annexation agreement can be found on the Town of Fraser's website at frasercolorado.com. To be placed on the emailing list of the Fraser and Friends for Responsible Development, you can contact Andy Miller at lonesomehut@lonesomehut.com or 970-726-4099, or Jane Mather at jmather@criticalcore.com or 970-726-9500. Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

Guest Column: Byers Peak annexation petition puts Fraser at risk

On May 29, the Fraser's Board of Trustees approved the annexation of Byers Peak with a 6-1 vote. This came after an exhaustive effort by the Town beginning in 2007 to make the best decision possible for the future of Fraser and its residents, including months of public testimony and difficult negotiations with the landowner. The Plan was recommended to the Board by the Fraser Planning Commission after several public meetings and three public hearings on May 25, 2011. For the next two years, two different boards carefully evaluated the annexation at workshops, study sessions and public hearings too numerous to list here. The question was never whether Byers Peak Ranch would be developed — the question was whether it would be developed in Fraser or the County. Concerns surfaced when we read in the Sky-Hi News that Andy Miller and Jane Mather were taking steps to submit a petition proposing to place the question of the annexation on the ballot in an effort to take this decision out of the hands of the board. The basis for this is they feel the annexation agreement could be better, they do not understand parts of the agreement "so don't trust it," and the process did not allow for sufficient public input. These assertions could not be further from the truth. The Board listened carefully to residents and negotiated an agreement with the landowner that reflects residents' concerns. If the agreement was any more on the side of the town there would be no agreement and the landowner would be proceeding to develop in the county – which may still happen if the annexation is overturned. Yesterday Cheri Sanders and I met with Jane and Andy to go over their concerns and explain parts of the agreement they said they did not understand. For example, they believe the developer is not paying the way. Fraser's policy is that development pays its way and Byers Peak is required to pay for all costs and assume all risks. There have been suggestions that the Town does not have sufficient water – this is also not the case – our water attorneys and engineers have certified that the town has more than sufficient water for the entire Town and Byers Peak, but needs local water storage facilities to protect the water rights. They believe that the developer is getting free water taps from the town – this is not true, the developer must pay for and construct facilities that may be reimbursed with water taps only for the actual costs certified by the town from the purchase of taps within Byers Peak — protecting residents outside Byers Peak from paying for improvements that will be necessary with or without its development. We met to see if the proposed election that could undermine years of good faith efforts could be averted. The benefits of the annexation will protect the town's water rights and obligations; reduce future costs; create revenue; create jobs; expand the Town's economic base; establish development controls; and require Byers Peak to provide water rights and construct reservoirs to satisfy existing and future water augmentation needs. We think the agreement is very important to Fraser's future and we found that revenues from water/sewer tap fees, building permits, plan review fees, use tax fees and property taxes may help stem the steady decline in town revenues, and are much greater than costs to the Town for the development. The Board did not come to its decision easily. But, we want the residents of Fraser to know that we kept our fiduciary responsibility to make responsible decisions that are in the best interests of the town. Six out of seven Trustees who voted in favor of the annexation believe that the agreement is not perfect, but residents will lose much more by letting Byers Peak be developed in the county. During the discussion yesterday it became evident that Andy and Jane have other reasons for opposing the annexation. We respect the effort that Jane and Andy have made to provide input during the process and we asked them, for the sake of Fraser residents, not to proceed with the petition and risk losing the benefits of the annexation as negotiated. Proceeding with the petition places Fraser at greater risk and increases costs to its residents.

Fraser mulls servicing water to Byers Peak Ranch

FRASER — The Town of Fraser is working through negotiations with the owners of the Byers Peak Ranch property to provide municipal water and sewer services to the planned development. During the Wednesday, Feb. 5, meeting of the Fraser board of trustees, a draft agreement was presented to the board as well as a short presentation from the property owner's spokesperson Jack Bestall. The property's developers are seeking to have the entire planned development serviced by the town's water and sewer system as opposed to their original plans to build an independent water and sewer system for the development. The move to request town water and sewer services comes after possible annexation of the property, which sits directly southwest of the town, was voted down by Fraser voters during the November 2013 election. After the annexation agreement was voted down, the developer applied to build the property in unincorporated Grand County, for which the county has approved a sketch plan. Bestall has said that while the move to service the development with the town's water and sewer system could provide for a future opportunity to annex the property into town, the owners of the property are not interested in hearing discussions regarding annexation at this time and will move forward with building the development in unincorporated Grand County. Residents of the Fraser Valley opposed the annexation agreement in part due to the portion of the agreement that focused on water and wastewater service for the development. "I'm really happy to see Byers Peak come back with this service agreement because it addresses some of the problems that were in the annexation agreement," said Jane Mather, one of the Fraser residents who opposed the annexation agreement and ultimately challenged the agreement and sent it to a vote. "But we want to make sure the additional costs of serving this development doesn't fall on the residents of Fraser." "We are interested in coming to an agreement," Bestall said. "But we are not interested in raising old arguments." The draft service agreement that was presented to the Fraser town board on Wednesday states the town would supply 1,233 single family equivalents, or SFEs, to the development, which would cover the entire planned development. The agreement also provides for the developer bearing the cost to connect to the town's water system, including any construction costs to connect to the system. Proceeding with caution Residents of the Fraser Valley who wanted to ensure the town would not incur the costs of the connections raised concerns at the Wednesday meeting. Andy Miller, a resident of Fraser, said he wanted to see further evaluation of the impacts of the increased SFEs as it wasn't clear if the existing water infrastructure the town has would handle the additional users. Part of the draft water service agreement allows for the town to use existing water storage at Grand Park ponds to protect the town if senior water-rights holders farther down river were to call for water. The risk of having a call placed for water downstream by senior water-rights holders is becoming increasingly dangerous as water users downstream are experiencing drought conditions, such as California, which currently has only 12 percent of normal snowpack. "We have to be prepared for large climate shifts because they are beginning to occur," Miller said. Bestall also stated that the developers believe the revenue generated from adding the water taps to serve the proposed development could help reduce or alleviate the Fraser Firming Fee that was imposed on Old Town residents earlier this year. Implementation of fees began the process of ultimately building town water augmentation ponds. According to Bestall, the town stands to collect a substantial amount of revenue if the agreement were to go through, including nearly $9.5 million in water tap fees and about the same amount in sewer tap fees as well as collection of water usage fees that will be charged to the residents of the new development if the town were to serve the development. While the agreement is still in draft phase, the town is working toward finalizing the agreement and expects the topic to be highlighted in upcoming town board meetings. "I anticipate this subject to come up at the next four or five meetings," said Mayor of Fraser Peggy Smith. The draft agreement as well as a copy of Bestall's presentation to the board can be found at the town's website at frasercolorado.com by clicking on the pull-down menu "government," to "board of trustees" to "agendas," to "current board of trustees packet." Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

Letter to the Editor: Let views be heard on the Byers Peak anexation

Let views be heard on the Byers Peak anexation To the Editor: The Fraser Valley community should know that this Wednesday, March 6, at 7 p.m., the Fraser Town Board of Trustees will be holding another public hearing so that the Town Board can hear public comments regarding the annexation of the land owned by Byers Peak Properties (BPP), 295 acres west of the railroad tracks and between CR 72 and CR 73. For those who are interested in sharing and discussing information about the annexation, I started a Facebook page – Fraser and Friends for Responsible Development. (www.facebook.com/pages/Fraser-and-Friends-for-Responsible-Development/134408106736544) After reading documents in the Board Packet on the Town website and reviewing the Town staff’s answers to questions from the February public hearing (available in the Board Packet), I still have many concerns about the proposed structure for the BPP annexation. As others might also have concerns or be able to provide explanations, I started the Facebook page as a forum for information sharing and discussion. I certainly appreciate all of the work our Town staff, Board Trustees and consultants. The Town consultants’ credentials and experience are certainly impressive. Yet, none of us are perfect, and sometimes, we can overlook significant issues. For example, the proposed cost and revenue sharing agreement for water infrastructure and improvements shifts costs and revenues around in ways that could lead to millions of dollars in additional costs and foregone revenue for the Town. In proposing this approach, the Town obviously believes it’s reasonable but, so far, they haven’t really addressed the concerns presented at the February public hearing or provided a financial summary that shows the financial impact of the annexation agreement. If you are interested in the details, please see the Facebook page. If you have comments, questions or clarifications, please share them with others on the Facebook page. In addition, please write or attend the public hearing on Wednesday. Because the annexation is quasi-judicial, the Town Board members must all receive the same information, either through written or oral comments at the public hearing. If you make a statement at the hearing, please also provide a written copy so that trustees can refer to it later. Jane Mather Fraser

Letter: Mather, Would the long-term cost of $5.5 million have been worth the short-term savings of $650,000?

With the current Town of Fraser election, we are once more debating what types of development agreements the Town of Fraser should sign and what costs Town residents should incur to support growth in Fraser. With my two years of service on the Fraser Town Board, regretfully ending due to the requirements of a new job, I now have an even stronger belief that Fraser voters made the right decision in voting down the 2013 annexation agreement with Byers Peak Properties (BPP), avoiding significant long-term costs and limits on the Town's ability to manage growth. Thanks to that vote, the Fraser Town Board is now negotiating agreements with Clark Lipscomb and BPP that will benefit the Town of Fraser in both the short and long term. In contrast, candidates Smith and Quinn continue to believe voters should have supported the annexation agreement, as indicated in their responses to the SkyHi New's question "Describe one time when you believe the current town board got it wrong." .Mayoral Candidate Smith stated "My biggest regret was our failure annex Byers Peak Ranch into the town of Fraser. As a result, we are spending $650,000 to purchase augmentation storage from Grand County #1." Trustee Candidate Quinn stated "The town board did not get it wrong, however the wrong result occurred when we, as a town, missed the opportunity to have a voice and help direct the land being developed bordering the town of Fraser." He also said that with that vote, residents were trying "to shove the status quo down peoples' throats" and were "freaking out when someone wants to develop a piece of property." True, the Town of Fraser would not be spending $650,000 for augmentation water storage, but that is just the short-term impact. With the proposed annexation, the Town of Fraser would have essentially lost millions in water tap fee revenue. The first 711 water tap fees, about $5.5 million at current rates, would have been collected and held in a separate Developer account. Some of that would have reimbursed BPP for augmentation pond construction, including the cost of ponds that would have been used for snow-making at the Colorado Adventure Park tubing hill, one of the developer's private businesses. Most of that $5.5 million would have been held in this account through the 35-year development period, "locked away," without the ability for the Town of Fraser to use those revenues for other water infrastructure costs that this development would have incurred. Water rates would likely have increased much more than now expected. As to development control, in managing development at Rendezvous and Grand Park, the Town Board faces the constant challenge of working within a 1986 annexation agreement, which locks their hands from making decisions that reflect current conditions and values. Similarly, the BPP annexation agreement would have most likely limited Town of Fraser control not increased it. So if you have yet to vote, please consider whether you want to elect a Mayor and Town Board Trustee who believe that saving $650,000 in the short-term is worth giving up revenue of $5.5 million in the long-run? Or should we have a Mayor and Town Board trustees who respect residents' votes, ask the right questions and demand that the Town Staff find the answers? Jane Mather Fraser

Town of Fraser grows by 295 acres

FRASER —With six "ayes" and one "no" vote, the Fraser Board of Trustees approved the Byers Peak Ranch Annexation agreement and related documents during the Wednesday night regular meeting, bringing the six-year negotiation to a close. The annexation of Byers Peak Ranch will annex a 295-acre parcel south of Mill Avenue and west of the railroad tracks to the Town of Fraser, and will give the developer a 35-year period to build 530 detached and 905 attached residential units, 550 lodging units and RV sites, and 270,000 square-feet of mixed use, commercial, and industrial units — if the developer where to completely build out the development. "I appreciate that a lot of people worked really hard on this and worked for some important benefits for this community through this annexation, and I am very pleased that we have made it there," said Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin. The board chose to include a condition in the motion to approve the annexation that buildings in the development not exceed 45 feet in height, striking down the developer's requested 55-foot height limit. Clark Lipscomb, the president of Byers Peak Properties, LLC., and the applicant of the annexation has indicated he will accept the condition. Yet the developer could ask the board to amend the agreement to allow him to exceed the height restriction if he wants to build a building that is taller than the 45-foot height restriction; the board indicated during its deliberation of the topic it would be willing to consider approving a building above 45 feet if it is appropriate. "The town made a really good deal for the town and I think it will end up being a very successful project for us as well as the Town of Fraser," Lipscomb said. The developer stated he does not think he will begin construction of the project until next year, though he has already started working on the initial process of constructing two water augmentation ponds, which will be built by the developer and dedicated to the town. The developer plans to build homes on the Byers Peak Ranch property that are affordable and will allow residents and newcomers an option to live and work in the Fraser Valley instead of having to live outside of the Valley because of high home prices. The Town of Fraser has spent hundreds of hours working through the annexation agreement, having created a subcommittee dedicated to the project consisting of Fraser Mayor Peggy Smith and Trustee Steve Sumrall and held numerous community meetings to help the residents of Fraser understand the agreement and voice questions or concerns about the project. Smith opened the board's deliberations with a statement outlining the history and the agreement and providing the different possibilities if the agreement were to be approved or not. "This annexation is not whether the property should or should not be developed. The applicant owns this property and it will be developed, if not in the town of Fraser, than in the County. This annexation is a decision based on what is best for our community now and in the future," Smith said. "In order to have a sustainable community we need to attract younger families and new businesses that create new jobs. By annexing Byers Peak Ranch into the town of Fraser we can maintain control of the sales tax generated in the development as opposed to competing against Byers Peak Ranch as we do with the town of Winter Park. Imagine a Fraser Valley that instead of competing against our community members unites and focuses on our real competition, Summit County and Steamboat." Trustee Cheri Sanders voiced her support for the agreement during the beginning of the deliberations by saying "I can't tell you how many hundreds of hours I have put in on this, and as being a long time resident and knowing the implications both ways, I would say, yes, my thoughts are we need to proceed with annexing Byers Peak Ranch into the Town of Fraser so that the Town of Fraser can watch out for itself and not depend on the county or anybody else to guide our growth." Members of the community voiced concerns about the agreement throughout the process and provided a very large amount of input to the town. The public hearings hosted overflowing rooms of concerned citizens and dozens of written comments were submitted to the board during the public comment period. "I think it's great that the community really engaged in this," Durbin said. "People really care about this community and that is a great thing." After the public comment period was closed and the board's deliberations began, Smith gave a synopsis of the final agreement saying "this agreement needs to be considered in its entirety as a collaborative work, which is the best deal we could have reached after years of negotiation, it is not a one sided agreement but a fair agreement that represents the needs of both parties now and 35 years into the future." "We all love the beautiful meadow that has graced the valley for hundreds of years and this view is very difficult to give up. I'm asking the board not to focus so much on the view but on the vision of Fraser's future," Smith said. "I believe a community that is not growing is in the process of dying. It is my hope tonight that we take the steps necessary to move Fraser to a sustainable future." Water One of the most important pieces of this agreement to the Town of Fraser is the construction and dedication of two water augmentation ponds for the town, which includes junior water rights. The town will be getting 60 acre feet of water storage from the developer who is required through the agreement to complete the construction of two augmentation ponds in a timely manner, something he has already begun. The Forrest Meadows augmentation pond will store 25 acre feet of water for the town and the Byers Peak augmentation pond will store 35-acre feet. The construction and dedication of these two augmentation ponds will allow the town to firm up their water rights for future use. This is something the town has said is essential to its ability to provide water to current and future residents. "We will receive 100 percent of the sewer tap fees and a percentage of the water tap fees structured so that the timing coincides with the expansion needs of the town. This is a structured fee program, not a subsidy, it is a financing mechanism that provides both parties with the capital they need when they need it," Smith said. The developer has agreed to pay $60,000 once the agreement is executed to allow the town to immediately begin well improvements to supply the first SFEs for the development as well as 160 SFEs for the town. The town will also use the money for the water rights applications for the two augmentation ponds. Future improvements to the town's water system will be completed as the project moves forward and more water tap fees are collected. "I think that it is a tough deal with a lot of emotions surrounding it," Durbin said. "But at the end of the day this agreement brings some things to this community that the community needs."

Byers Peak applicant responds

FRASER — The public hearing regarding the possible annexation of Byers Peak Ranch continued Wednesday night with the applicant's opportunity to respond to questions and concerns voiced during the public comment period of the hearing process, which ended on April 24. Some of the main concerns Fraser residents voiced during the public comment period included concerns about the water plant investment fees related to the proposed project, the time allotted for the development of the project, gravel operations related to the project, and the overall concerns about the development of the area and the developer. "After about four months of a lot of misinformation and a lot of accusations, we appreciated the opportunity to present the case for the application and respond to concerns," said Jack Bestall, a representative of Byers Peak Properties, LLC., during a phone interview Thursday morning. During Wednesday night's meeting, Clark Lipscomb, the president of Byers Peak Properties, LLC., offered testimony where he provided his background information to provide the audience with a picture of his history in the county, what his goals and aspirations for the Town of Fraser are, and offered some replies to concerns that were voiced during the public comment period. Lipscomb said he plans to provide an affordable place for people to live in the Fraser Valley because a large number of people who work in the Fraser Valley cannot afford to live there. More people living in the area means "more of their dollars are being spent in this community than Granby down the road," he said. "The stronger we make Fraser, the more apt it is to become the strongest leader in this community and in the county and the better off I am, of course, and the better off all of the residents of the town of Fraser are. That is the end goal," Lipscomb said. Lipscomb spoke for longer than an hour in defense of himself and the proposed project and wrapped up by saying "I hope that maybe you got some of your answers about me and who I am and what my goals are for this community, and while they may be different than your goals, they're good goals and they are quality goals and they are big aspirations. Trust me we are going to need some luck to be able to pull it all off and to be as successful as we would really like to be, but if we get there, this will probably be one of the premier and most stellar communities to live in in Colorado." Bestall also spoke during the meeting to help clarify some of the terms of the agreement. Bestall spoke about the proposed 60 acre-feet of water storage that would be built and dedicated to the town if the agreement were to go through. "Fraser's water status will be enhanced, that is the bottom line. Fraser currently lacks adequate local water storage. It needs both to meet state requirements and it also needs improvements to its water systems. These are significant. The storage will firm Fraser's water rights that financially could be a major burden to Fraser on its own. With the storage, the agreement will address water responsibilities as well will include maintaining Fraser River flows, which are beneficial for the entire town and of course environmental quality. Finally an expanded Fraser water system with more users means more fee revenue, which will help gain greater financial stability for Fraser and potentially lower rates [for its users]," Bestall said. "We think this is not only a development paying its way but we think this is perhaps an economic driver for Fraser, which, if we can partner on this thing, could really be a big benefit," Bestall said. "The board has made sure there are few risks for the town while there are many important benefits if this property is annexed." Fraser town position "No agreement is foolproof," said Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin. "But I am confident of the provisions we have in this agreement to protect the town and its interests. "Without this storage we are at risk of having to turn off Fraser wells as water becomes more and more scarce," he said. "Regardless of any future growth, the Town of Fraser is going to continue to experience the increased costs of service provisions across the board. Rate payers will face expensive infrastructure that can only be funded via PIFs (plant investment fees) or rate increases, we need this infrastructure," Durbin said. "While this annexation agreement isn't perfect, no deal is ever perfect or fully favors one side, nonetheless I believe this deal provides the town with improvements that are necessary for the community and consistent with the mission of our water fund. Durbin went on to say the annexation of the property will provide residents benefits otherwise very costly and or difficult to achieve. The annexation also would grant the town control over the property, "which is significant," he said. The property is currently zoned to be developed in unincorporated Grand County, and if the developer decided to build in unincorporated Grand County rather than annex to the Town of Fraser, the town would not have control over the property. "It would be our recommendation to pursue approval of the annexation agreement, annexations, zoning of the property, and other related matters," Durbin said. The proposed Byers Peak Annexation would, if approved, add to Fraser an area south of town that eventually would consist of 530 detached and 905 attached residential units, 550 lodging units and RV sites, and 270,000 square feet of mixed use, commercial, and industrial units built out over a 35-year period on a 295-acre parcel. Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

Byers Peak requests water and wastewater from Fraser

FRASER — Fraser Mayor Peggy Smith has instructed the town's staff to begin developing both a service agreement and an ordinance to enable the town to provide water and sewer services to Byers Peak Ranch. The process to begin working on an agreement for the town to provide water and sewer services to the development comes after the proposed annexation of the property into the town was voted down by Fraser voters during last year's November election. After the annexation was voted down, the developer of the property applied to build the development through the county and had the sketch plan for the property approved by the county planning commission. Previously the developer of the property, Clark Lipscomb, indicated he would attempt to build a stand-alone water and sewer system to serve the 295-acre parcel of land and accompanying development. The proposed agreement to supply Byers Peak Ranch with Fraser water and sewer would provide the town with a number of benefits, according to a presentation by the developer's representatives. "Why don't we extend Fraser water and sewer systems into Byers Peak and, of course, all at the developers cost and under the standards of the town," said Jack Bestall, a representative of Byers Peak Properties LLC. "The idea would be that this would do several things." Bestall outlined that if the town were to provide water and wastewater services to the development, it not only would keep the Fraser Valley from having another stand-alone system similar to Winter Park Ranch's, but it would also enable the developer to annex the property into the town at a later date. According to Bestall, the developer is not interested in entertaining the idea of annexing the property into the town at this time after spending six years and a substantial amount of money on the annexation process with the town, only to have the agreement voted down during the most recent election. The developer also believes the town could see a substantial amount of revenue by providing water and wastewater services to the development through both plant investment fees for both services as well as monthly service fees from each tap that is created through the project. The extra revenue generated by providing water and wastewater services to the development could potentially reduce or eliminate the Fraser Firming Fee that was imposed by the town on Blue Zone water users, Bestall said. The Fraser Firming Fee was imposed to enable the town to investigate and eventually build a water storage system to protect the town's ability to provide water to its residents in case of a call for water from senior water rights holders downstream of the town. Additionally, the developer proposed leasing some of its existing stored water to the town to provide immediate protection for the town's water users. The developer has requested that the town charge him the fees that are currently imposed for new in-town water and wastewater taps. The town currently does not have any regulations on the books concerning out-of-town water and wastewater service and would therefore need to pass an ordinance on the subject before agreeing to provide service to the development. According the presentation, if the developer was charged the current fees for in-town water and wastewater taps, the town could see close to $19 million in plant investment fees for providing water taps to the 1,233 units that have been approved through the sketch plan submitted to the county. The town's trustees agreed that providing water and wastewater services to the development could hold some potential advantages for the town. "I think this is an opportunity for the town," said Trustee Steve Sumrall. "I think we can work out an agreement that is advantageous to the town for a long time into the future and get some more customers for the town." "I think we can go that direction as long as the agreement comes down to a way that Fraser benefits and the people of Fraser benefit as well as the developer," said Trustee Cheri Sanders. "But it is going to take some negotiations because there are some things I have some reservations about." Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

Letter: Byers agreement not perfect, but still best thing for Fraser

To the Editor: The Byers Peak Ranch Annexation agreement represents six years of hard work that was done by three elected boards. We have spent hundreds of hours negotiating this agreement in good faith with the developer. We have spent $350,000 (paid for by the developer) on attorneys and engineers working through the details. Is the agreement perfect? No, there is no such thing as a perfect agreement. This agreement is a collaborative work that represents the best deal we could reach after years of negotiation. It is not a one-sided agreement but a fair agreement that best represents the needs of both parties into the future. It satisfies the town's goal of making sure we have the security and the oversight which guarantees compliance with built in consequences for non-compliance. It also gives the developer the flexibility to develop his property over the next 35 years to meet the ever changing needs of the market. It is important for everyone to know that if Byers Peak Ranch is not annexed into the town of Fraser, it will be developed in the county so the developer has nothing to lose. The town would still be subject to all of the impacts, including increased traffic, and gravel operations for pond construction, without the benefit of receiving any of the taxes and fees. The town of Fraser would lose all land use control and compliance oversight on 295 acres adjacent to our town. If the annexation is overturned, the town of Fraser will need to build 60 acre feet of augmentation storage to protect our water rights in the Blue Zone. The need for this augmentation storage is based on zone's water rights, not on the size of Byers Peak Ranch. Our water engineer estimates the augmentation to be $4.5 million, not including the cost to purchase 12-15 acres of developable land and negotiate the water easements. The developer has agreed to pay for these all of these costs as part of the annexation agreement. If Byers Peak Ranch is developed in the county, the town of Fraser could be negatively impacted by how the developer chooses to process the sewage from this development. Without the town having oversight, the county and the developer will decide if a large septic system is best option for Byers Peak Ranch which could negatively impact our water table. The County and the developer would also make the decision of where to locate a mechanical plant which could negatively impact our neighborhoods. The developer could choose to build a mechanical plant under current town of Fraser zoning regulations in our business district which would negatively impact our business district and future sales tax revenues. Having multiple sewage treatment plants in an environment as fragile as the Fraser Valley may result in state oversight requiring the town of Fraser to provide sewer to Byers Peak Ranch since our plant is under-utilized. I know this is a very emotional decision for the town of Fraser. We will all miss the view of our beloved meadow. I urge you to join me and the Town of Fraser's Board of Trustees by putting our emotions aside and to Focus on Fraser's Future by voting yes on Referendum 300 and 301. Peggy Smith Mayor of Fraser