Crunching the numbers

More information needed for Oak Creek annexation move


File photo

Heather Kline, owner of Lynx Funding in Oak Creek, talks about her building plan for a plot of land north of Oak Creek that she has been working to have annexed by the town at her office on Aug. 23. After a meeting Wednesday, the Oak Creek Planning Commission said they needed more information before moving forward with the project.

— After a lengthy and impassioned Oak Creek Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, developer Heather Kline was left with two options for her Darling Annexation proposal: come back with current construction costs and make another presentation to the Planning Commission, or leave nearly two years of work behind.

Kline, who lives in Stagecoach and owns Lynx Funding in Oak Creek, was hoping the Planning Commission would approve a revised conceptual plan for the annexation, and then recommend it for approval by the Oak Creek Town Board.

But while Planning Commission members expressed support for Kline's proposal, there are several kinks the commission wants to iron out before moving the project forward.

The commission asked Kline to update her project's construction costs, conduct geological, elevation and other soil surveys, and correct deficient paperwork before coming back to the commission Nov. 14.

Kline said she was reluctant to spend the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to complete such surveys before knowing whether the town was on board.

"Before I move forward and spend an additional $50,000 or $75,000, I want to make sure this is what the town wants," she said.

Kline and her sister, Jennifer Darling, proposed a 24-acre annexation that would put as many as 17 affordable homes on a parcel of land north of town. The 1,000-square-foot homes would sell for between $215,000 ad $315,000, Kline said. While Kline was confident she could have the homes built for that amount of money, she recognized that building costs could rise in the near future if the project continues stalling.

Commission member Tom Bleuer said the town could not guarantee either of Kline's proposals would ever be approved.

"It's a gamble," he said. "The (Town Board) can always say no."

Kline's proposal, which was in its second form Wednesday, was first proposed about a year ago and received opposition from the Town Board, because the proposal was to develop a plot of land outside of the town's designated growth area.

Since then, the town has decided to update its comprehensive plan to reflect how the town wishes to grow, including changes to growth area boundaries. The comprehensive plan was last updated in 1997. It is used as a guideline and is not regulatory, Planning Commission Chairman Chuck Wisecup said.

On Wednesday, Kline said her second proposal for the annexation differs from the first because she is proposing to build actual homes on the lots to encourage young families to live, work and play in Oak Creek. The first proposal was for lot sales only. Kline said her second proposal would give young families an opportunity to own a home, invest in the town, fill South Routt School District seats and potentially open businesses in Oak Creek.

Kline said she has brought a second proposal to the town after incorporating months of feedback from the town and community.

"We really do want to provide what's best for Oak Creek," she said.

Wisecup admitted the process Kline has gone through has been "out of the normal process of things," but encouraged her to come back in November.

Commission member Jerry Greenwood agreed.

"I'm optimistic you're going in the right direction," he said. "I'm a realist - there'll be a lot of heckling as we go along - but I'm optimistic with your presentation."

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

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Community comments

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(Anonymous) Malcolm_Reynolds says...

Why does the Planning Commission need to know the project's construction costs? Are they a financial institution? Does the project meet code or not, that's it. Sometimes, Planning Commissions think they have more power than the Town Boards.

Posted 21 September 2007, 4:48 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) boatski says...

Good job Planning Commission, your one of the reasons the price of housing will continue to rise in the area. Keep stalling growth until the building costs get higher and then cost of the housing becomes out of reach.

Posted 21 September 2007, 6:30 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) id04sp says...

Uh, building permit fees are based on the estimated cost of construction materials. You don't pay sales tax on building materials if you have a permit, because you've already paid them via the permit.

Knowing how much the project will cost is a good measure of the developer's business plan and probability of successfully completing the project. They don't need some unfinished ghetto down there if the builder runs out of money. Litigation to rectify such situations can take years.

Posted 21 September 2007, 9:39 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) upstream says...

How does that logic apply to such debacles as the Sierra View development, Boatski? There is an example of a developer finally convincing the planning commision and town board that we better hurry up and get on his band wagon or else...

And what did we get? a pile of empty lots being traded by speculators, a hand full of homes no one is currently living in because no one in South Routt can afford them and loaded dirt trucks speeding endlessly up and down our 2 main avenues covering the sorrounding neighborhoods is dust and diesel fumes.
The point to this current discussion is to give Heather and all potential developers a heads up that the voting citizens of Oak Creek will determine our own destiny- not the run away goldrush mentality destroying Steamboat as we speak. Sierra View went through because that board finally caved to the BS being rammed down their throats by developer Tim Geiger- most of which he has never made good on.

Take your time commisioners- keep listening. The developers are not going away and given a clear message, they will come around.

Posted 22 September 2007, 8:31 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) poordad says...

I've been reading the discussion regarding the Darling Annexation and am truly amazed at the incorrect information that is being set forth by people who have no idea what they are talking about--specifically "knowitall." To set the record straight, I have absolutely nothing to do with the Darling Annexation.

I am a retired Army pilot who has been able to accumulate a meager savings and have chosen, on occasion, to assist my children in their financial endeavours. If this, combined with my good health, makes me rich, then I guess you are right. I would suggest you get your facts straight before having them published in a newspaper.

Posted 14 October 2007, 12:20 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) id04sp says...


Lots of people have made bad business decisions in Routt County. I've got a very expensive t-shirt to go with mine. No kidding. I've got a t-shirt to show for $100,000 gone to the four winds.

Routt County is a unique environment because of (1) snow loads and (2) expansive clay soils. It's just not possible to have wells and septic tanks in most of the county because the septic systems won't perk. The foul water hangs around on top of the clay and can eventually find it's way into nearby wells. That's why high-density development without a central water and sewer system is not possible. People who come in from other parts of the country and purchase cheap land without getting a soil test are not going to be happy when they try to build on it.

In most parts of the country, developers come in with financial incentives which directly benefit the people on the board of commissioners. It's called bribery. There are many creative ways to do it, including depositing funds in offshore accounts.

I think you're going to find that trying to build high-density housing won't work unless you have the money to fund a water and sewer development project. If you do that, you won't make any money on the houses. Maybe you should all rethink the project, include the water and sewer systems, and build rental housing instead. Over the long run, that might provide the best return.

Posted 14 October 2007, 12:40 p.m. Suggest removal

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