Concerned citizens packed Breckenridge Town Hall for an open house addressing the latest round of development plans for the 128-acre McCain property on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
The town purchased the parcel in 2000, which parallels Highway 9 between Coyne Valley Road and Fairview Boulevard, from a private owner for $1 million. In 2012, public outcry against the inclusion of industrial-commercial uses stymied attempts to craft a development master plan.
Mark Truckey, the town’s assistant director of community development, presented updates on modifications to the 2013 McCain Master Plan. The updates are a result of advice from the town council, which engaged Frisco-based Norris Design for input with planning and landscape architecture, along with Tetra Tech, a consulting and engineering services firm with a branch in Breckenridge.
At the end of 2014, the town worked with both firms to develop a revised master plan that included space for affordable housing, areas for existing service commercial businesses and restoration plans for the portion of Blue River that runs through the parcel.
“This is a big concept plan that will take a number of years to implement,” Truckey said.
Elena Scott, principal at Norris Design, reviewed multiple versions of a concept plan for the property, which will be divided into two tracts — a 90-acre portion for development and 38 acres reserved for open space and trail uses.
The current plans also call for constructing the town’s second water treatment plant on a four-acre site on the northeast corner of the parcel. The space is currently leased by Breck Bears, which would be forced to relocate. Truckey said the location near Highway 9 is advantageous because it would reduce the costs of extending water lines from the pumpback on the property and across the highway to reach the Highlands water tank.
“It could look like a gateway for the town there on the corner,” Scott said.
To address one of the town’s most pressing needs, about 10 acres on the north side of the parcel has been reserved for affordable housing. The location was deemed optimal because there is adjacent planned housing to the north, sufficient setback from the highway to mitigate noise and a close proximity to public transportation.
Depending on the final design plans, Scott said this could provide between 50 and 100 units.
The updated plan also includes 1.6 acres for service businesses, such as contractors and others who are essential to the community but are often outbid by retail stores for lease space.
FIELD AND STREAM
The town is working with Tetra Tech to plan and engineer the restoration of the stretch of Blue River that passes through the McCain property. Construction of a temporary river channel could begin as early as this fall.
“We’re trying to put the river back in its natural condition,” Truckey said.
The project would improve the scenic river corridor, which is in rough shape due to historic dredge mining activities, he said.
Currently, a significant portion of the river goes underground. The goal is to place a liner under the water, to make the river more sinuous, while fostering vegetation growth along the riverbank.
To further preserve the waterway, a 150-foot corridor on either side of Blue River will be maintained for open space. The town used open space funds to cover about 30 percent of the McCain purchase.
On the south side of the property a more than 23-acre site is reserved for open space, but the area could be used for a reservoir, if additional water storage is required in the future.
PARK AND DARK
About five acres at the southeast corner of the property has been designated for overflow parking. The intent is to replace 500 spaces currently provided at the satellite lot on Block 11, which will be lost in time for housing development.
Also included in the plans are about nine acres for snow storage, nearly three acres to expand an existing solar garden, more than four acres for public works storage. In addition, a 1.4 acre site on the southwest corner of the property will be used to relocate the existing recycling center on CR 450.
Several residents voiced concerns about the development adding artificial light to an area many covet for the dark skies.
In response to these concerns, Truckey noted that most of the proposed uses on the McCain property would not require lights.
“When lighting needs to occur the town of Breckenridge has a dark sky policy that requires shielded and downcast lighting that mitigates these impacts.” he said.
Others worried about added noise, most especially from snow storage operations, altering the setting. Truckey said research into noise duration will need to be conducted.