Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

17 Oct 2016

City of Durango staff reject Southern Ute Growth Fund’s 3.1-acre land exchange offering

Posted by Adam Howell


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City of Durango staff rejected a proposal from a Southern Ute Growth Fund official that would have exchanged a narrow 3.1 acres of sloping hillside with a drainage and storm water detention area for 3.1 acres of flat land next to a wetlands area.

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A view of part of the 3-acre parcel offered by the Growth Fund in exchange for the 3-acre Southern Open Space Parcel that the City of Durango offered to give them as part of a blind land exchange made in September of 2015.

Nearly four months after Durango’s Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board approved a blind land exchange with the Growth Fund for land in Three Springs, a planning manager with the Growth Fund proposed the exchange with Durango’s Director of Community Development Kevin Hall.

Originally, in September of 2015, Growth Fund officials requested the transfer of the City’s 3.1-acre Southern Open Space Parcel, which they loosely claimed would be used as a parcel for affordable housing.

In December of 2015, Growth Fund Real Estate Group Planning Manager Kurt Prinslow offered a 3.1-acre parcel in return as an exchange opportunity to meet the requirements set forth in a motion by the Natural Lands Board that year.

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A view of the 3-acre parcel that the City’s Natural Lands Board agreed to give back to the Southern Ute Growth Fund in a blind exchange for a similar parcel somewhere else in Three Springs.

The motion that the Natural Lands board approved in September of 2015 was to relinquish the 3.1 acre Southern Open Space parcel adjacent to the wetlands in exchange for 3 acres somewhere else, provided that there is no reduction in the overall open space commitment of the overall Three Springs area, that the open space dedication is as large and contiguous as possible, and that it is agreed upon by the City and the developer, said Board Chairman Steve Whiteman.

Hall wrote a letter on behalf of City staff that rejected the exchange parcel, saying that the location and characteristics of the proposed open space parcel do not meet the intent of the recommendation provided by the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board.

“While the parcel will provide effective trail connectivity to the future east-west park from areas to the south, the parcel is primarily sloping hilliside with drainage and storm detention facilities for the surrounding home sites,” said Hall. “We do not believe it is in the City’s interest to accept a parcel with limited public benefit yet potentially significant maintenance responsibilities. Additionally, the parcel is not immediately adjacent to other City open spaces or parkland, a primary condition set forth in the Board recommendation.”

“We appreciate your interest in a timely resolution of this matter and look forward to working with you in the future to identify a more suitable site for transfer,” Hall wrote.

Hall told the Natural Lands Board at the October, 2016 meeting that it’s a standing condition that the Growth Fund provides those 3 acres.

“The Village 2 Proposal, which is another phase of Three Springs, hasn’t been submitted to the City yet. That’s the likely area in which the three acres will come to be,” said Hall. “When we see a submittal in Community Development on Village 2, this board and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will be part of reviewing that submittal relative to Post and Recreation issues.”

Hall says that it may be 2017 or 2018 before the City boards get to review the next open space proposal from the Growth Fund Real Estate Group.

Map of Southern Ute Growth Fund’s proposed land exchange, click here

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