Larks Perch applicants received another denial when Chaffee County Commissioners voted to uphold a previous decision by the planning commission.

Applicant 9479 Hutchinson, LLC brought the appeal before the board Wednesday. 

Previously the planning commission denied the major subdivision preliminary plan April 7. 

Proposal for the property was to divide 36.87 acres into 11 lots with a minimum lot size of 2.01 acres. 

The planning commission denied the application due to stormwater drainage.

Planners found that additional debris flow hazard and mitigation analysis using flows in the event of a wildfire was not submitted and was necessary. 

Also an additional debris flow/flood analysis based on flows exacerbated by wildfire and proof that the building envelopes can contain a 1,000 cubic feet stormwater detention basin were not submitted. 

Jon Roorda, county project manager, said that since the denial, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers had classified two of the larger ditches as “Waters of the United States.”

In a separate interview, Roorda explained that this designation means these ditches “fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers,” and to that extent the federal government, now has the power of regulation over them. 

What they do with that power, Roorda said, is up to them.

Tracy Vanderveer, with Crabtree, said dry gulches could not earn such a classification, as per the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Dan Swallow, county director of development services, said the position of his office was to let the Army Corp of Engineers interpret their own regulations.

The commissioners expressed a concern for the possibility of major debris flows, especially following a major forest fire.

“I understand the fear, but we’ve done the science,” Vandaveer said. “The best response I can give is that we used the same analysis used all over the states, we used the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) standards.”

“I believe we’ve addressed every issue and can create a subdivision that is safe and beautiful,” Walt Harder said. Harder is a local developer and is representing the applicant. 

Harder, however, asked commissioners to send the application back to the planning commission from the point where they were kicked out.

Swallow said Harder’s request was “not an option within our LUC (land use code).”

“The applicant has the option, however, to reapply, and presumably submit the additional engineering that was not provided for the preliminary plan public hearing before the planning commission, which will start the subdivision process over.

“If they choose to reapply, Chairman Felt’s motion, which was upheld by the board, included a provision to waive fees,” Swallow said. 

Additionally, commissioners said the applicant would not need to get comments from consulting agencies, like Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

When asked after the meeting if the commissioners might consider addressing a change to the land use code that would allow the option of not having to start over, Felt said probably not.

“It’s fairly rare that applications get appealed,” Felt said. “Because of the complexity of the application, the commissioners had requested to review it between the sketch and the final plan, which we don’t usually do. That may have made an appeal seem like a more reasonable request.”

Neither the Hutchinson Ranch nor the Hutchinson Family Foundation have any connection to 9479 Hutchinson, LLC. 

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