| 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
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.