New golf course pitched for north valley
The Cove enters La Plata County planning pipeline

This fence separates Dalton Ranch’s 16th hole (right) and the land where the new Cove golf course and development are proposed. Plans are for 42 homes and nine new holes/Photo by Todd Newcomer.

Nine additional holes of golf with 42 new homes fronting them were recently proposed for the Animas Valley north of Durango. Though he elected not to comment, Jim Kreutzer has submitted a preliminary plan to La Plata County planners for the project he is calling The Cove.

Kreutzer was responsible for developing the Cottonwoods immediately north of Dalton Ranch. The Cottonwoods is a decidedly high-end project where lots ranging from .5 to 1.2 acres start at $179,000. The Cove would be built to the immediate northeast of The Cottonwoods on the acreage currently containing the Hermosa Meadows Camper Park. The year-round, full-service RV park will cease to operate this April. However, operations of an existing gravel pit on the parcel are slated to continue.

As manager of Hermosa Park LLC, Kreutzer submitted The Cove Preliminary Plan to the La Plata County Planning Department last week. The narrative states that the total development would be built on approximately 48 acres. However, only 10 acres are slated to contain homesites.

“They’ve proposed 42 lots on roughly 10 acres, which is zoned high-density, single-family residential,” said Robert Bowie, a county planner. “The balance of the property is in the river corridor and industrial zones.”

It’s on the balance of the property that Kreutzer has proposed a nine-hole executive golf course. Typically, executive courses are shorter courses composed largely of par 3 holes. The preliminary plan differentiates between passive and active open space. While the golf course would be considered active, a smaller piece of acreage on the east side of the Animas River would be passive open space and remain untouched. A detailed wetland mitigation plan was attached to the submittal, and the plan includes a 62-foot corridor to facilitate elk migration. Certain building envelopes also would be altered in order to not disturb several clumps of large cottonwoods.

“Total numbers of trees not to be disturbed and to be replanted will be approximately 76 percent of the original count,” the plan’s narrative reads.

The Animas Valley is the only area in La Plata County that has designated zoning. And while the river corridor zoning may suggest unaltered or “passive” open space, the Animas Valley Plan would allow a golf course in that space if a special-use permit is obtained.

“With a special-use permit, you can apply for a low-impact, recreational use, which includes a golf course,” says County Planner Nancy Lauro.

However, Mark Pearson, executive director of San Juan Citizens’ Alliance, is one person who does not think golf courses fit the bill of open space.

“I don’t think we’ve ever thought that golf courses and sports fields have ever fallen into the category of open space,” he said. “Maybe they’re free of buildings, but they’re not a natural landscape or a natural view.”

Pearson said that in his opinion, putting a golf course in the river corridor is a convenient way to profit from an area that’s designated floodplain and not buildable anyway.

“It’s a way for developers to use floodplain,” he said. “They couldn’t build a house there if they wanted to. It seems like a sneaky way to develop the floodplain and say you’re doing it out of the goodness of your heart.”

This concern could very well enter The Cove’s planning process. Calling this a boom year for development proposals, Pearson said the San Juan Citizens’ Alliance is in the process of forming a voluntary task force to keep an eye on new development proposals.

“There could easily be 7,000 units in the planning process this year,” he said.

Bowie said that a date for The Cove’s first Planning Commission hearing has yet to be set.









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