La Plata County commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved a request to rezone a property in the Animas Valley for a higher-density development.
According to county records, Chris Hall and his family own about 6.68 acres at 7922 County Road 203, which borders the commercial development that includes the Hermosa Grill and gas station.
The property, however, is comprised of two different zonings: a 3-acre parcel of multifamily residential, which allows six units per acre, and a 3.68-acre parcel that allows one single-family home per acre. Hall requested the 3.68-acre parcel be rezoned to multifamily residential to bring the entire property under one classification.
Courtney Roseberry, with the La Plata County Planning Department, said if approved, the property could have a maximum of 32 units, with 20% designated as open space. Because of issues with emergency access, though, it’s likely the total build-out would not exceed more than 25 units, she said.
Much of the conversation Tuesday centered on the impact a higher-density development would have on County Road 203, in terms of traffic, and the overall character of the Animas Valley.
Hall, for his part, said 13 units can already be added to the half of the property that is currently zoned multifamily residential. Asking the county to rezone the other 3.68 acres would result in an increase of 12 to 13 new units, he said.
“We prefer to have it as one piece,” he said. “We want something that’s a better development … and we have a lot more options with a single zoning rather than a dual zoning.”
Hall said the Hermosa area is already a fairly dense area with an array of commercial development. He also said developments with higher density are typically cheaper, which would meet the county’s need for affordable and attainable housing.
“Allowing for more multifamily is a good thing for the county and a good thing for the community,” he said. “It’s only going to be the millionaires that live (in Hermosa) if we continue down this path.”
Tuesday’s approval changes only the zoning classification of the property. An actual project proposal would be subject to another round of county permitting and approval.
At that time, specifics to road improvements to County Road 203 would be discussed, Roseberry said.
Commissioner Gwen Lachelt said the No. 1 complaint she hears from Animas Valley residents is that County Road 203 is not capable of handling the increased traffic it has experienced in recent years. She said the road needs to be prioritized for improvements.
“It’s a big need,” she said. “This is an area that makes sense for growth.”
Commissioners pointed out that the project has not received the amount of opposition that a previous development proposed last year received, which was ultimately denied by the county. In that case, a developer proposed to rezone 9 acres just north of Trimble Hot Springs for a high-density development of about 40 affordable homes.