At Tuesday night’s meeting, the first item on the Granby Board of Trustees’ agenda was the appointment of new members to the Recreation, Open Space and Housing (ROSH) board.
Mayor Paul Chavoustie told the crowd in attendance that the town board had limited authority and scope of the ROSH, explaining their only business was to appoint new members.
The trustees discussed what number of appointees they should appoint that evening. Several applicants resided in Granby Ranch, but none within the Edgewater community. Since the ROSH foundation is primarily funded by 1% transfer fees generated from a second sale of homes in both communities, it was the town board’s goal to have representation from both developments. With that said, the board opted to fill seven (of nine) ROSH board positions, to allow a vacancy for future Edgewater board members, and, as Trustee Natascha O’Flaherty pointed out, “The advantage of 7 is you cannot have a tie.”
A total of 16 Granby residents had completed the questionnaire for appointment. Several of the applicants were current board members, several were residents of Granby Ranch and several were absent from the meeting. The candidates were given two minutes to tell the town board why they would be a good ROSH board member. Following the presentations, no public comment was given and the trustees cast their first vote for 7 appointments.
Following the first vote, five candidates received enough votes to be appointed: Robert Blay, Pete Gallo, Elaine Henrekin, Susie Peterson and David Sardinta.
A second vote was cast and Connie Gerlach was added to the list. Following a third vote, Katie Hale took the seventh seat on the ROSH board. The newly appointed board will select officers at their next meeting.
“Congratulations everybody,” said Mayor Paul Chavoustie. “I know the ROSH board can do great things.”
Public Works Manual closer to completion
Town Manager Ted Cherry presented Ordinance 930 to the board for consideration. The new version of the Town’s Public Works Manual had been modeled by town engineer, SGM, after the Town of Basalt’s manual and the trustees had requested the 338 page document be cleaned up to reflect the town’s policies.
Trustee O’Flaherty was the only trustee who had read the entire document. Noting a number of discrepancies, she offered to meet with Manager Cherry to go through suggested revisions.
Granby Ranch resident Matt Gerard asked that the road acceptance standards be written to include standards for roads that are not asphalt and address base and soil type as well.
“We did think we would have to put this on hold for a while,” said Cherry. “We would ask (the trustees) to make a motion to continue to the March 24th meeting, if that’s acceptable to the board. This gives us time to revise and correct.”
The trustees approved the continuation of Ordinance 930, the town’s Public Works Manual, to the meeting on March 24.
Granby Sanitation District Easement
Manager Cherry presented a non-exclusive utility easement located on the SunSmith Creek Crossing property. “These easements are for Granby Sanitation District,” said Cherry, adding, “the sanitation lines are already in place. The easements just need to be filed – it is pretty straightforward.”
Town Attorney Scott Krob added, “There is no blanket for a large area, it is very specific. As Ted said, they seem to be in order.” He also confirmed there was no downside to the approval, since it was a non-exclusive utility easement.
The trustees approved the easement unanimously. Trustee Becky Johnson was absent from the meeting.
Town enters into Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
Manager Cherry next presented an MOA with Colorado Headwaters Land Trust (CHLT) to the trustees for their review. Following up on previous discussions related to the sale of a 739 acre conservation easement to CHLT, Executive Director Jeremy Krones had prepared the MOA which outlined the terms.
The acreage, collectively known as the Granby Trails Highlands Property, is made up of 3 parcels located just north and adjacent to Sun Communities. Portions of Parcels B & C border about one mile of the Colorado River.
The town held an Open House on February 21 to discuss the conservation easement and hear from residents on what they would like to see the land used for. About 40 people attended the gathering. Most responded positively to the town’s conservation efforts. Activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fishing were identified as preferences for land use.
An appraisal of the property showed a value of about $4.25 million. The MOA indicated the town would donate 30% of the property value and a purchase price of 70%, at $2,985,500, would be paid to the town upon closing. Funds from the purchase would go toward trail construction and maintenance, and would leave enough for other town projects as well. The date of closing proposed is December 31, 2021.
To raise funds for the purchase, CHLT will apply for grant funding from various sources including the County’s Open Lands, Rivers and Trails fund, GOCO, CPW and Gates Capital.
The town would also pay $60,500 in transaction/due diligence costs. Krones told the trustees those funds will show grantors the Town has “skin in the game”. Within 30 days of signing the MOA, a payment of $32K will be due to CHLT to cover title commitment, baseline documentation report, mineral remoteness report, Phase I environmental assessment and finalization of the appraisal ($25K); and, $7K toward the CHLT Project Fee.
Trustee O’Flaherty asked Krones if there would be restricted use of the land, such as closures for wildlife migration.
“Anything extra is extra,” said Krones. “Most of the extra points come from the grant. If I apply to CPW, there might be winter closures. “ He said every type of activity of the property will come out as it is developed.
“I think this land was designed to be a green space,” said O’Flaherty. “In past meetings we talked about this. I would like to maintain as much access to Granby residents and visitors (in summer and winter) as we can.”
Mayor Chavoustie said, “At the open house, CPW was there. They see the northern side of the Colorado River as Elk habitat and are asking for closure. The intent is to give public access and also to see wildlife.” He said if it was all opened, some wildlife may not return. “We have a pretty nice selection of trails. The actual trail closure is what CPW has always asked for, even when it was Shorefox.”
Trustee Cathy Tindle said she had reservations with the conservation easement. “I work in the (County) Assessor’s office. I deal with conservation easements all the time and I have seen some good ones and some bad ones. I have to ask why we are going so fast with this? The amount of stuff we’re not allowed to do, control, I have an issue with that.”
Tindle recommended a 99 year lease instead to keep the land in the Town’s name. “I didn’t think we were desperate to make that money,” said Tindle, adding later, “I don’t see why we are spending money when we can do our own.” She suggested developing an adopt-a-trail program and letting residents work on the trails instead of turning the land over to CHLT. “Conservation easements scare me.”
Mayor Chavoustie said, “This is not really fast, although we did speed it up. In 2019, we knew we needed to get this rolling since there are grant cycles coming up.” He explained the Town had purchased the land at $4.5 million and ended up selling a parcel to Sun Communities for $6.2 million. “Thankfully, we got out over and above.” The town purchased the land to preserve and protect open space and lands. Chavoustie said he wanted to avoid a future board, 10-20 years down the road, trying to balance the budget by selling it off for development. The density on 739 acres could be as high as 2,000 homes. “We would lose the character (of the town).”
“While there are land trusts that do take the access, we do not,” said Krones. “The amount of ownership is in the conservation easement, the property would still be yours. Up until closing, you can dictate the usage” (e.g., no more than xx miles of trails, square footage of restrooms, etc.).
The motion to agree to enter into the CHLT MOA passed in a 4-2 vote, with Trustee Tindle and Mayor Pro-tem Deb Shaw dissenting.
Grand Places 2050
In December 2019, the trustees had approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), electing to participate with thirteen other entities including the towns of Winter Park, Fraser, Grand Lake and Kremmling, Grand County, USFS, BLM, Winter Park Resort and Headwaters Trails Alliance in the Grand Places 2050 initiative.
Manager Cherry explained the goal of the organization is to recognize the growth the county will be faced with in coming decades, change the way public lands are managed, focusing on stewardship, conservation and sustainability as well as watershed health and wildlife management.
Each of the participating entities were asked for a $1,500 contribution to fund 2020 planning efforts and leverage grant funding. Although the funding was not in the 2020 budget, Cherry recommended approval of the funding via supplemental budget appropriation.
“There are projects being identified and priorities,” said Trustee O’Flaherty, who had been attending the monthly meetings. She said they are looking at impacts on things like trailheads, restrooms and parking. The funds will also help with a meeting facilitator. “The next step is to identify projects we want to proceed with. It is a consortium of stakeholders.” While the goals are mainly long-term solution driven, O’Flaherty said Winter Park Resort CEO Sky Foulkes also wanted one-year and five-year action items.
“Is this a worthwhile expenditure?” asked Trustee Nick Raible.
“It’s money well spent,” said O’Flaherty. “We have the opportunity to get some of these projects. We will be the beneficiaries.”
The trustees approved the $1,500 contribution for Grand Places 2050 unanimously.
Town of Granby Board of Trustees meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 pm and are open to the public. To find out more, visit townofgranby.com.