Developer Michael C. Green submitted a proposal to subdivide a lot on the hillside to build three small homes accessed off N. Ninth Street.
However, many neighbors are opposed to the development, and they expressed their concerns during a packed planning and zoning board meeting.
“It needs more analysis on the geologic hazards of building there,” said resident John Chmelir. “The hillside has active erosion.”
Mike Riley, a neighbor of the site, said the proposal fails the definition of usable land in the land-use code.
“Building there risks destabilizing the hillside,” he said.
Added resident Nikki Sargent, “I don’t think the town should set a precedent for development on the hillside.”
Green said the site is buildable and the small homes would be constructed at the base the hillside and cut into the slope marginally.
He said there is a “misconception” among neighbors that the homes would be built high up the hillside.
Dolores Town Manager Lana Hancock said right now the town board’s decision is only whether to subdivide the lot. Where exactly the home sites would be on the lots would be part of the building permit application.
The Dolores town attorney said approval or denial of the subdivision by the planning board or town board does not set legal precedent.
“Your recommendation does not tie future boards,” he said. “If you don’t recommend it, the next board could support it.”
He said that for the town to prohibit a new home that meets building code requirements and the land-use code would require extensive justification.
After a lengthy discussion, the planning commission recommended approval of the subdivision with the condition that a geologic hazard survey and drainage survey be done by a civil engineer, and its findings be complied with by the builder. Ensuring adequate emergency access was also a condition of the planning board.
“The developer also needs to demonstrate there is adequate easements for utilities and there needs to be an engineering report on the stability of the hillside,” said planning board member Deanna Truelsen. “I’ve lived here 50 years and seen a lot of rocks come down.”
“Ultimately this (subdivision) will be decided by the town board,” said planning chair Linda Robinson.
The proposed homes would be two-story, and be up to 1,000 square feet. Green said he has a lot of experience as a developer adding that the force of the foundations will be a stabilizing factor.
“I’ve designed and built 180 homes,” he said.
The town board will take up the proposed subdivision on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. The building inspector would then need to approve a building permit, which includes site development, before construction can begin.