More than 100 Silverthorne residents crowded into Town Hall Wednesday evening as councilmembers reviewed a preliminary site plan for Silver Trout Estates. Citizens expressed concerns that the proposed development would be located in a wetland area between Angler Mountain Pond and the Blue River.
By the conclusion of the four-hour marathon meeting, councilmembers voted to approve the preliminary site plan, with Councilman Robert Kieber casting the sole dissenting vote.
Kieber noted that while staff had done substantial work on the project, he still had a few questions about its wildlife implications.
Prior to the vote, town council considered a letter submitted by the applicant’s attorney, Steve Letofsky of Frisco, requesting Kieber, a resident of the Ponds at Blue River, exempt himself from the vote. However, council moved that Kieber did not have a conflict of interest.
Silverthorne Mayor Pro Tem Peggy Long, who had previously voted against the development on planning commission, noted the Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) obtained by the applicant gave her much more confidence in the proposal.
“I voted against it. I thought a lot of things were missing in my book. … The hydrology and the floodplain scared the hell out of me,” she said. “Obtaining that CLOMR is a huge accomplishment in my opinion.”
She also maintained that the owner, David Namoff, had a right to develop his property.
“For years, we’ve always referred to Silverthorne as our little tiny town,” Long said. “There’s always a lot of controversy when a project comes in and people think that should be open space. The room was filled frequently as often as this one.”
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
The vote would move the project on to final approval, but with one caveat: The developers will be required to drop two units from the plan that were deemed by the planning commission to not fit the rest of the project.
The space, known as Lot 5 of the Ponds at Blue River subdivision, was originally set to be developed as part of the Ponds, but was sold to David Namoff and other investors in 2004. Namoff became the sole owner of the property through his Florida-based company, Blue Seas Colorado LLC, in 2014.
“We first came to Silverthorne in 1989,” he said. “I’ve been drawn by the community ever since.”
Initial plans include 31 residential units, divided into 14 duplexes and one triplex, on 12.3 acres. About 188,044 square feet will be disturbed, leaving more than 340,561 square feet of undisturbed area.
“We’ve done everything we can to lower the impact. This property is zoned to be developed, and that’s why we purchased it,” Namoff said. “We’ve compromised over years and years to make this property make sense.”
Due to a previous agreement with Angler Mountain Ranch, water and sewer infrastructure is already installed on-site. Managing partner Shervin Rashidi said they paid nearly $600,000 to Angler Mountain Ranch through the cost-sharing agreement approved by the town.
“We’ve worked so hard to let Angler Mountain Ranch develop our parcel, given them numerous easements when it comes to sewer and water on the road, and for the citizens to come back and act like this has been really disappointing,” he said.
In total, Namoff said he had already invested about $3.6 million into the site.
Breckenridge-based architect Suzanne Allen Guerra will design the homes, which Rashidi says will be just more than 2,000 square feet. Aspen-based developer Scott Russell, of RGE Group, LLC is spearheading the project.
QUARRY OR WETLANDS?
Silverthorne residents at Monday’s meeting expressed concerns about wildlife and water levels at the site.
“We’ve talked with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Friends of the Lower Blue River and others, and our conclusion is the best use of this land would be open space,” said Janice Barringer, a board member of the Angler Mountain Ranch Homeowners Association. “It would create a continuous open space and wildlife corridor.”
Resident Steve Garrison added that they had spotted eagles and river otters both on the site and in the surrounding area, and the wildlife studies presented for the developer were not consistent with a 2015 Colorado Parks and Wildlife site visit.
“This is not a pristine site. The environment has been significantly modified throughout the years,” said Jerry Powell with Wildlife Specialties, LLC, who conducted the studies. “If you’re gonna develop, you try to develop in areas where there are existing impacts.”
A wetland habitat disturbance and mitigation plan was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Daryl Roepke, a resident of the Ponds at Blue River, argued the site’s wetlands setbacks should exceed 25 feet, as recommended by CPW.
“This isn’t like a normal flood when it happens here,” Roepke said. “The floods last much longer here. … You could fish out of your back window.”
To prevent flooding, developers plan to use fill to raise the property in the development area. Namoff added that in the past, the property was dug out as a quarry for Everist Materials.
“We are placing fill, but we are restoring that property to its original elevation,” he said.
Per Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards, the site must be raised at least one foot above the water surface elevation of the 100-year floodplain. Developers plan to raise the site of Silver Trout Estates 18 inches.
“The biggest event we’ve seen has been somewhere around 2,100 cubic-feet-per-second and we’re engineering the site to be closer to 4,000,” Rashidi said.
While councilmembers expressed a desire to dig more into the wildlife concerns, the project will proceed.
“Times change is my point,” Long said. “Times change, things change. The wildlife, they adapt.”