Floyd Hill master plan unveiled: Area residents’ reactions negative to proposed draft

By Ian Neligh
Posted 8/10/09

A final plan for the future of Floyd Hill is one step closer to becoming reality. A draft of the Floyd Hill master plan was presented to the public for the first time on July 30 at Clear Creek Fire …

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Floyd Hill master plan unveiled: Area residents’ reactions negative to proposed draft


A final plan for the future of Floyd Hill is one step closer to becoming reality.

A draft of the Floyd Hill master plan was presented to the public for the first time on July 30 at Clear Creek Fire Authority Station No. 6 at the Technology Park.

For more than 100 local residents, representatives from Norris Design, the consulting team tasked by the county to assist in the plan’s creation, presented the plan and fielded often times heated questions from the audience.

The design firm’s representatives were quick to point out that the draft master plan does not include a “traditional land use plan” with recommendations on development or density but rather should work only as a guide for the county.

As a guide, it will provide steps to implement different levels of development, the infrastructure costs and transportation needs of the Floyd Hill area.

According to county planning director Frederick Rollenhagen, the planning commission will make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on future regulations based on the final approved master plan. The commissioners will then either decide to approve those regulations or not.

Rollenhagen said for the most part Colorado communities use master plans as an advisory document to help guide the community in developing land-use regulations and land-use policy.

“There’s a lot of people who think that a master plan has more weight than it really has,” Rollenhagen said. “In reality it is up to a particular Board of County Commissioners to basically determine how much weight a master plan will have based on its decisions to approve land-use regulations, whether they would be based on a master plan or not.”

The master plan

For the study, Floyd Hill was defined by Norris Design as 570 acres located at the gateway to the county, extending east and west of the Interstate 70 interchange at mile marker 247 and on both the north and south sides of the interstate, which cuts the area into two parts. Most of the land available is already zoned for commercial uses, and the 2002 county master plans identifies the area as a gateway and a location for future development.

The draft master plan identified three levels of potential development including: a “baseline development plan,” which shows the potential for development based on the area’s existing zoning; a “level 1 plan” which shows development that can be accommodated with the full build-out of the existing treatment plant including the high school; and lastly, and most controversially, “the level 2 plan” which  includes the maximum demand for development as noted in a recent market assessment of the Floyd Hill area.

“Very early on in the process, because there were so many diverse interests ... (it was) better to propose three different scenarios, three different land use intensities and what it would take mostly from an infrastructure standpoint (with) water, sewer (and) roadway,” said Norris Design representative John Durham at the beginning of the meeting. “... You will not find the word ‘recommended’ in the plan for any of those three alternatives.”

Durham said the plan doesn’t change zoning of the property or land uses, which still have to conform with existing zoning and county requirements. He also added that there was still opportunity for public input along the way should any development be proposed.

“Market demand and growth is a pressure that is happening on Floyd Hill — and a lot of people in the community want this to remain a rural mountain residential community,” said Norris Design representative Elena Vossman Scott. “So what we wanted to do for the master plan is identify the concerns of the residents and develop a set of design guidelines that if development should happen we’d address some of those (local) concerns.”

The market assessment

Norris Design, with a $150,000 contract from the county, assembled a team of experts, including RRC Associates, last year to explore the viability of commercial and residential development on Floyd Hill in the short term and over the next 30 years.

RRC Associates drew from a variety of sources, including the Denver Regional Council of Governments, the state demographer, Clear Creek and Jeffco assessor databases, as well as interviews with county staff and land owners — to name a few.

“What we wanted to do with market (assessment) is be able to understand what kind of demand for development there was on the site and in this area,” Scott said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s recommended, it doesn’t mean that it is required, it is just an idea for the county and decision makers and everyone to understand what is actually feasible from a market perspective.”

This market assessment for Floyd Hill found that the area could in the next 5 to 30 years have the potential for an additional 350 residential units, 75,000 square-feet of retail /commercial and a 120-room hotel.

Because Floyd Hill exists in and is influenced by market forces in the broader region, the report examined development patterns and trends in Floyd Hill and especially the Evergreen/El Rancho area as well as Clear Creek and Gilpin counties.

The draft master plan states that residential development is likely to be among the most readily achievable development types in the area in both the short and long term.

It goes on to say the demand appears to be especially strong in the area for rental and affordable housing designed for the local work force.

Because of the relatively high-priced housing in the Evergreen market, the study notes that there could be an interest in moderately priced single-family homes.

The market assessment found Floyd Hill’s location along the Interstate 70 corridor puts it in a position to absorb some of the expansion from the Denver/Jefferson County suburban growth.


The questions and comments from the standing-room-only crowd were predominantly against both the idea of creating a master plan and any major development in the Floyd Hill area.

The representatives from Norris Design explained to the audience that the draft plan wasn’t created to advise the county but only to work as a guide and assist the county in evaluating current and future developments.

For an applauding room, Bill Macy, former Idaho Springs council member and mayor, questioned the logic of making Floyd Hill the gateway to the county when Idaho Springs and Georgetown were working to become more attractive to tourists.

“Do we really need another McDonald’s between Bergen Park, El Rancho and Idaho Springs?” said local Etta Satter. “If they stop for a burger here — they won’t stop in Idaho Springs.”

Commissioner Kevin O’Malley was one of the last to speak to the crowd gathered at the fire station.

“The whole reason for this is to bring us to a place where we can try and get to the same kind of consensus that an extremely diverse group of people have shown (in the past) that we can get to,” O’Malley said.

The Clear Creek Planning Commission will begin the process on whether to accept the finished Floyd Hill master plan this September.

To see the entire draft plan go to www.co.clear-creek.co.us/Projects/Floyd_Hill/FH_Master-Plan.htm.


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