Proposed Mesa subdivision should be lower density

Dan Thomas and Tom Pokorny of 7473 Crestone, LLC are submitting applications to the City of Salida for a Major Subdivision/ Major Impact Review. The land to be subdivided is identified as 7473 Crestone (7473 C.R.160)- former planned MiraMonte Subdivision.

It is bordered by the Cottonwood Green subdivision to the East (which is directly west of the Salida Golf Course), a single family home and property to the north, three 2-acre lots with single family homes to the West and a vacant 18-acre parcel to the South.

The developers wish to build 46 units on the property and a one acre park. The development is said to “mimic” downtown Salida but the “Mesa” is not downtown Salida.

The Mesa for all of us who grew up in Salida is not meant to have this density. I do not oppose the development but hope to change the City Council’s mind to build 1/2 of the units, in essence, mimicking the Cottonwood Greens subdivision and all the homes in the area.

The only ones who gain in this effort are the City of Salida who will garner huge tap fees per unit and the developers who were able to get the land cheap. It does not help those who seek affordable housing.

There is no where on the Mesa that has the density of the proposed subdivision nor do I know of the same density in downtown Salida.

By signing the petition at www.gopetition.com (search for Stop the Mesa High Density Development), you say to the Salida City Council to change the density of the proposed subdivision to mimic the density of subdivisions on the Mesa.

FYI – The Salida Comprehensive Plan (Chapter 6) states:New neighborhoods or infill homes should be compatible with community character with respect to density, design and demographics…New neighborhoods should mirror traditional patterns of nearby neighborhoods…

Thirty-seven foot lots that are proposed in this development DO NOT mirror patterns of the neighboring subdivisions (Cochetopa Estates, Mesa Village, Cottonwood Greens and 2-acre parcels to the west).

Salidans Unite – please sign the petition.

Thank you,
Karen Argys-Lloyd

The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

17 Responses to “Proposed Mesa subdivision should be lower density”

  1. Steve

    "The only ones who gain in this effort are the City of Salida who will garner huge tap fees per unit..."

    I would just point out that the "City of Salida" doesn't gain from this. The city can't use tap fees for anything other than cost recovery in the water enterprise fund. However, we all - as in all water users connected to the City's system - gain in two ways: First, the tap fees will reduce the need for future water rate increases (if only a little) and second, having more users of the water and sewer systems reduces the fixed portion of the water bill because it spreads the relatively fixed costs of operating the water system across a larger number of households. The gist of all of that is that water rates will go up at a slower rate if there are more users in the system and more collection of tap fees.

    And on the main point, I do think Salida needs more higher-density development than we currently have. Seems like the Mesa is as good of a place as any for it.

    Like (12)
    • Tom Pokorny

      Hello Karen and all who read her plea to sign the petition above,

      This is Tom Pokorny of Natural Habitats Design. The information given by Karen Argys-Lloyd above is not accurate --- not even close to being accurate. I do not have time at the moment to counter in detail --- more later. However, we will be presenting the proposed subdivision to the Planning Commission this Monday evening, October 27, in the Touber Building. I encourage you all to attend the meeting to get the facts, or watch it live on our local channel T.V. --- channel 10, before you comment or sign a petition based in inaccuracies, to put it politely.

      More later,

      Tom Pokorny

      Edit: Here is a copy of the subdivision plan [1.6MB PDF].

      Like (11)
    • Fred Hubicki

      Higher-density means more water users and that means we will again have to buy more water rights in the future.
      Please explain why you think Salida needs higher-density. More people will need more services and many will want what they left in other areas.

      Like (1)
      • Lawton

        "Higher density" regarding this subdivision has to do with number of homes per acre, and this subdivision is not high density nor is it higher density than the neighboring subdivision (both "medium" density). The question of more people in Salida is a separate issue, but it does seem like more people are coming!

        Lawton

        Like (2)
      • Tom Pokorny

        Fred,

        Salida currently is in very good shape concerning water rights and existing infrastructure to support future demand for water and sewer. Since the purchase of the Vandeveer ranch/water rights, I believe we use less than half the available water. And since the City recently expanded and brought up to code both the sewer plant and water plant --- and added the water tank up on the Mesa --- we will not need to spend money to expand/upgrade the infrastructure for decades. Moreover, the developer pays all the expense of any new infrastructure needed for a new subdivsion: water lines and hydrants, sewer lines and manholes, gas lines, electrical lines, phone and cable.

        More users tapping into the existing City infrastructure for water and sewer means that the cost of maintenance and loan interest is spread out over more people and thus your share of the expenses would go down. Will your bill go down? I doubt it. But it certainly will not go up because of some new houses hooking into the existing system.

        As far as high density housing is concerned, the City would prefer higher density housing, as do most municipalities. Municipalities now know that they cannot support suburban sprawl or low density housing as there are not enough people to pay for the upkeep up the roads, sewer, water, gas, etc.

        As far as Crestone Mesa density is concerned, the lots are single family lots of sizes similar to your neighborhood, 37'-6" x 150', 42' x 150 and 50' x 150' with an alley and garages in the rear and facing a Park. Actually, a better example is the Alpine Park neighborhood, except we do not have the small 25' x 150' lots that border Alpine Park to the north and southeast.

        Thanks for your question.

        Like (3)
  2. Greg Follet

    I think it is important to take a breath here, and really think about the type of "density" we are talking about here. Tom and Dan are not talking about putting up multi-family apartment complexes, or even multi-unit condominiums here. For the most part, we are talking about single family homes, on individual lots. Yes, they are smaller than the lots on "the Mesa", but are they really that much smaller than the ones next door in Cottonwood Circle? I would bet that if you compare side by side, they are very similar. Making it 23 lots would certainly not put it on par with Cottonwood.

    So, smaller lots, with inevitably smaller homes does not promote affordable housing? But somehow, larger lots with larger houses does? Show me the math on that.

    if we are to promote this community to young, working class families, this is the type of development that needs to happen! I would encourage all to really look at the facts, and listen to Tom and Dan's plans from them before signing a petition. If after hearing them out, you still don't agree, fine, but at least you will have made an informed decision.

    Greg

    Like (17)
  3. Tom Pokorny

    Karen,
    This is a response to your description of the Crestone Mesa Subdivision.

    First, let me say that I appreciate your desire that we design the Crestone Mesa subdivision to mirror the Cottonwood Subdivision since Dan was the general contractor that oversaw the construction of the infrastructure of the development and between us we have designed and built 12 of the approximately 24 units within the subdivision. I can assure you that the Crestone Mesa subdivision will meet and exceed the standards of the Cottonwood Greens subdivision; we have learned quite a lot in the last 10 years.

    For example, we do not intend to use an H.O.A. that requires a minimum sized house of 1800 square feet, as in Cottonwood Greens. Rather, we prefer to allow people who buy the lots to determine the size of the house they need; any size house that complies to the code shall be allowed. We do not intend to force people to build look-a-like houses dictated by an omniscient developer. We prefer an eclectic approach, allowing the owner of the lot to choose their own building style, guided by tasteful Design Guidelines. We will not invite our cars into our houses by allowing front-loading garages that dominate the streetscape with garage doors and driveways. We prefer to keep our cars in a detached garage off the alley and line our streets with a sidewalk beside a tree-lined parkway that will be planted and maintained by an HOA. We do not intend to use our open space requirement merely to separate neighbors and create a maintenance nightmare for space that is not used by anyone. Rather, we will build a large public park that includes a Community Garden and greenhouse, a public Pavillion for weddings and parties, a picnic area, a large playing field for children and playground equipment. We will welcome the public into our community. And we will build a nice landscaped area along the bike path along Crestone Avenue and install benches and a bus stop shelter for the kids. Rather than orienting the houses into private backyards, we will demand front porches be built that face Mesa Park, a place that we can all use together in community. Our lot sizes will vary. They will range from 5620 square feet to 9447 square feet. This will allow people to choose a lot that fits their personal requirements and assure us that we do not cater to a small sliver of society that fear others that are different from themselves. Does this subdivision I have described still scare you?

    Now to address the concerns stated within your petition. First, you state that the “Mesa” is not downtown Salida. However, our subdivision, as is yours, is within City limits and both are zoned R-2 medium density.

    Second, you state that “the Mesa for all of us who grew up in Salida is not meant to have this density.” Well, I am glad that we have a Land Use Code that outlines proper density and uses and that we are a society that operates under the Rule of Law, as opposed to operating by the opinions of “those who grew up in Salida.” Since we are simply proposing a ‘Use by Right” project, I prefer we view the project by the established rules.
    Third, do you not yet realize that the Crestone Mesa subdivision is of a very similar density to the Cottonwood Green Subdivision? This has been explained to you by City Staff, your fellow neighbors and myself before. Calculating housing density is a simple math problem: units per acre = the number of units divided by the number of acres. Someone who has spent as much time as you over the last two months circulating a petition to stop a subdivision based on the claim that “There is nowhere on the Mesa that has the density of the proposed subdivision, nor do I know of the same density in downtown Salida” should have taken a moment to do the math: It’s easy. Let me show you.
    Density comparison: Crestone Mesa vs. Cottonwood Green
    -Cottonwood Green is zoned the same as Crestone Mesa: R-2
    -Cottonwood has a total of 43 lots
    -Cottonwood has 6 lots that currently allow 3 units/lot -- total of 18 units
    -under current HOA language, the other 37 lots will support another 37 units
    -total units allowed under current Cottonwood HOA = 55 UNITS

    -if the subdivision HOA decides to change their restrictions, then:
    -6 lots that currently allow 3 units/lot --------------- total of 18 units
    -36 lots are large enough to support ADUs or multifamily - total of 36 units
    -1 lot is of a size that would only allow 1 unit ---------- total of 1 unit
    TOTAL UNITS POSSIBLE IN COTTONWOOD UNDER R-2 ZONING ----- 91 units

    Cottonwood Green subdivision is 13.14 acres
    - @ 55 units, 4.18 units per acre
    - @ 91 units, 6.9 units per acre

    Crestone Mesa:
    -highest possible number of units = 61 units (if everyone built an ADU that could).
    If nobody builds an ADU: number of unit = 46 units
    - @ 46 units (no ADUs), 4.3 units per acres.
    - @ 61 units, 5.7 units per acre.

    The density is very similar between the two subdivisions, as one might expect for the same zone district. In fact, should Cottonwood Green choose to rescind its internal restrictions, then their density potential under the code as an R-2 zone district would be higher than the potential density of Crestone Mesa by 21%

    Note that the Cottonwood Green subdivision currently has 9 condos squeezed onto three (3) lots (which we designed and built) and has another three lots set aside to build 9-more condos. You can’t get any higher in density than this area of what is already built in Cottonwood --- and it doesn’t seem to offend anyone. We are not proposing such a high density district within the Crestone Mesa subdivision, even though we could build 102 units as a use by right, rather than the 46 lots we propose. We are not the greedy developers your group has called us.

    Does that settle the density issue for you? I think the Planning Commission and the City Council should consider disallowing your petition into the record, since you garnered those 90 signatures by feeding them false information and they didn’t take the time to find the truth for themselves.

    I will not address all the issues at this time, but rather at the upcoming presentation to the Planning Commission and City Council. I encourage anyone who is interested in this issue to attend the the Planning Commission session this Monday evening October 27 at the Touber Building.

    You can see the actual proposed Crestone Mesa subdivision plan at the bottom of my first comment in the “Edit” line. Judge for yourself if this is the “Ghetto on the Mesa” as Karen enjoys calling it.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Tom Pokorny

    Like (27)
    • Nancy

      Dear Karen,

      I’d like to respond to your letter, beginning with this passage; “The only ones who gain in this effort are the City of Salida who will garner huge tap fees per unit and the developers who were able to get the land cheap. It does not help those who seek affordable housing”.

      The city is not developing this project and tap fees apply uniformly to all lots sold in Salida.

      The developers paid market value for the parcel. A price which could have been paid by any party interested in having control of its future use. Perhaps mesa residents could have passed the hat in the five years it was for sale.

      And indeed there are others who will gain from this project; particularly those who would like to have a new home close to town that could potentially cost less than $300,000. This is not affordable housing and has never presented itself to be. Is it more affordable than a home in Cottonwood Green? Thankfully yes.

      Considering that two previous development efforts have been on the table for this parcel, was it really a surprise that another effort would be made to develop it? Instead, you waited to voice your fears until after it was purchased by established, reputable business people (who also designed and built the homes in Cottonwood Green), who followed the code of law as well as the intentions clearly stated in the city comprehensive plan for development. Your timing is unfortunate by any measure.

      Surely you are aware that Cottonwood Green and Crestone Mesa have the same density - Medium. Crestone Mesa simply utilizes more open space in the form of a large central park.

      This is a case of Use by Right. Please educate yourself about the meaning of this. The owners of the property have the right to use it according to the law that exists when they purchased it. Planning and Zoning reviewed the project and found that yes, requirements have been met. The question before city council is whether the developers have followed the code of law. It is not a public hearing to vent your fears of living next door to people who chose to live in smaller homes than you do. That you earlier referred to this development as a “ghetto” says much about you and nothing at all about this beautifully planned neighborhood. Thank you Natural Habitats, for your vision and awareness of what your community desires and needs.

      Like (17)
  4. Lee Hunnicutt

    Take a deep breath everyone. "Use by right" is the operative phrase here. No one needs your permission to do this project and your misleading petition is pointless, as are your mischaracterizations. We should be appreciative of the fact that a local firm with close ties to our community and a long track record of quality projects has taken this opportunity along with the risk. The density issue, as Tom laid out in his response, is a non-issue. My former hometown was over run by tract builders from outside the area building maximum densities with the quickest, cheapest housing and no regard for the property or the community. I applaud Natural Habitats, as you should, for taking this project on before someone like that did. If you have issues with current density, take it up with Planning and Zoning now and not after the fact with well intentioned local businessmen acting within our laws and guidelines. Thank you.

    Like (19)
  5. Lawton

    I can't help but note the irony of Karen's letter falling just beneath Salida Citizen's banner caption;

    “Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other”.
    - David Spangler

    Like (5)
  6. Randy Cone

    Years ago I purchased through the open market a vacant lot on the mesa. Shortly afterward the neighbor across the alley said to me " I hope you are not going to build here. It would ruin our view."
    I decided later that I was probably not a good fit for the mesa and sold the lot. Of course there is a house there now.
    To me this petition seems to be a similar scenario.

    Like (5)
  7. Jimmy Descant

    Thank you Tom and Dan for the COMPLETE explanations and comparisons, though not truly necessary by law. Also, thank you for your politeness in your professional behavior of being community builders, of which you have a fantastic track record and reputation in Salida. Wordage such as “Ghetto on the Mesa” as Karen enjoys calling it, is not accurate and does a disservice to the city and actually the petition signers. So please withdraw this and watch it unfold for the positive.

    Like (14)
  8. Judy Smith

    After years of this property awaiting sale, I was pleased to hear the plans to develop have actually become less dense than the proposed Mira Monte subdivision. So for those opposing, perhaps they may want to consider the alternative had a less community minded developer obtained this piece of land. A better plan, with open space and a central park has come in front of the planning and zoning with a recommendation for approval.

    Like (10)
  9. Mike

    Put all the rhetoric aside for a moment. Yes, this proposed subdivision does meet most of the legal requirements as attested to by the above commenters. It's just a coincidence that many of these comments are from realtors or others connected with land development.

    The bottom line is that the proposed thirty-seven-foot-wide lots and the proposed alleys are ugly and do not fit visually with the surrounding subdivisions. Imagine looking out your back window and seeing an alley, complete with dumpsters, cars, RV's, ATV trailers and whatever else is stored in an alley. Keep in mind that such alleys will serve only houses within the Crestone subdivision--they will have virtually no utility to the homes in the adjoining neighborhoods. If you live in one of the neighborhoods adjoining the proposed Crestone Mesa subdivision, either oppose this proposal or get used to seeing long, narrow lots and alleys with their accompanying eyesores.

    The developers need to rework this plan. Eliminate the alleys and narrow lots, and they'll have a plan that almost everyone would support. It's that simple. They could even throw in a few condos and thus still have the density that they're after.

    Like (1)
    • Tom Pokorny

      Mike,

      Nobody will look out their back window and see an "alley, complete with dumpsters, cars R.V.s ATV trailers" , etc. The developer, me, has proposed a 6' fence along the property line adjacent to Cottonwood Greens. You will have to pull yourself up and above the fence to see what is over the other side. Note: the H.O.A. documents which have been made public do not allow dumpsters, R.Vs, ATV trailers and such to be stored in public view; they must be in a garage or hidden behind a fence.
      The only reason that the alleys will have no utility to the adjacent subdivision is because the developer of Cottonwood Greens did not listen to others that explained about the probable layout of future adjacent developments given the City's Comprehensive Plan and the demographic trends that show traditional grid layout are the future. This is evidenced in the fact that the previous two developments proposed for this property both used alleys along the property line.

      This development is well thought out, it meets the intent of the Comprehensive Plan, it meets the Code, and it has been approved by all the City Department Heads and the Planning Commission. I guess the rest of us that live in Salida with "long narrow lots and alleys with their accompanying eyesores." Really? Face it, this is the usual NIMBY reaction to change in their neighborhood.

      And as far as building another Cottonwood Greens to "mimic" what you have, why would we want to mimic a failed business model? Cottonwood Greens has been around for ten years now and not even half the subdivision is built. Look at Trailside for comparison, which has six units under construction to Cottonwood's one (1) unit. Your 1800 square feet minimums and look-a-like houses require a budget of well over 400K to build. That cost hurdle and the narrow aesthetic allowed limits the clientele. This is not the desire of the People --- and our goal is not to lose money. So, why would we build another Cottonwood Greens when you can't sell the lots in your subdivision?

      Sorry, Mike, the above comments are not some sort of rhetorical story orchestrated by me. It was Karen that initiated this public debate/comment session by posting her Petition. Why not hear what the public has to think rather then your neighbors and family when confronted with one-sided information? Karen should have learned what the public thinks about the project when she posted her "Stop the Ghetto on the Mesa" petition on the Salida Swap. She didn't hear what she wanted, so she pulled it off the public venue and circulated her private petition where there was no fact checking available.

      Have a good night,

      Like (14)
  10. Paige Judd

    I am so glad the City Council approved the Crestone Mesa subdivision last night. It was nice to see that the Council followed the land use code rules. Land in town has been scarce for years and it will be nice to see more lots available. I can't believe that there was so much controversy and argument about a development that fits the code "by right". Good luck to Natural Habitats. Town needs more developments like this.

    Like (1)