June 12, 2008

Plans for Shaffers Crossing development are slow going for landowner
By Pamela Lawson

A local developer is challenging that the county’s objection to a preliminary application filed by his company for a large housing project near Conifer is not in the best interests of the local community.

Ron Lewis and his son, Norman, owners of the Buffalo Park Development Co., turned in a pre-application document to Jefferson County Planning and Zoning in December 2007 outlining plans for 88 homes, 180 multi-family units and a 40-space RV park at Shaffers Crossing.

The county responded by saying the application did not comply with the Conifer 285 Corridor Community Plan or zoning resolution, said planner Heather Gutherless.

Ron Lewis said he understands the county’s response but he believes “something needs to change.”

Lewis claims that the county has not considered the changes occurring to the 285 Corridor near Shaffers Crossing, or the need for an increased tax base to cover the cost of those changes and he claims his project would add that tax value.

Colorado State Parks currently is working on a master plan to open Staunton State Park, a 3,600-acre tourist attraction that could open in 3 to 5 years near Shaffers Crossing. One of the requirements for opening the park involves improvements to the U.S. 285/Elk Creek Road intersection at Shaffers Crossing. The Colorado Department of Transportation could begin construction on an overpass there in 2009.

As far as Lewis’s project is concerned, the Conifer community plan specifies housing developments in that area should be on 10-acre parcels. His pre-application proposes homes on 1-acre, 2-acre and 3- to 5-acre sites. But Lewis claims a “village” approach at that location would provide an infrastructure to the state project underway there.

“We are attempting to get support from State Parks and the highway department,” Ron Lewis said. “Things are going to happen in terms of activities (in the area) and there is no support.”

While Ron envisioned the project, it is his son Norman, president of the Buffalo Park Development Co. that will oversee the project if it moves forward.

To proceed with a more formal proposal to the county requires that the applicant first host a meeting with nearby residents of the property to inform them of the plan. Members of the Jefferson County planning staff would be present at that meeting, though they would not direct it.

Then the developer would be required to submit a “myriad of studies” at the time of the formal application, Gutherless said. Those studies would include a wildlife report, slope analysis, forest management plan, market analysis, traffic study, hydrology study and more.

The Lewis’s are hoping to rezone 250 acres from agricultural to a planned development to build the village. They own a total of about 1,000 acres in the vicinity, Ron Lewis said, but he did not say what plans they have for the rest of the land.

According to Lewis, he has a water augmentation plan in place. But he has also shown interest in tapping into a pipeline being proposed by another businessman in the Conifer area who would like to run a waterline from the South Platte in Bailey along the 285 Corridor to serve community needs.

Lewis did not offer a timeframe for when he might move forward on a formal application process.

He would like to further explain his plan to a larger segment of the community first, he said. He contacted members of the Conifer Area Council to see if he might present his information at a future Town Hall Meeting. But he has not heard back from them, he said.

Norman Lewis was out of town and unavailable for comment for this story.

Contact staff writer Pamela Lawson at Pamela@evergreenco.com

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