The Summit Board of County Commissioners has approved a motion to make minor changes to the planned development of the Ranch at Breckenridge unit.
A planned unit development is a zoning document that describes the intended use of a property in a certain area. The Breckenridge Ranch plan was approved by county commissioners in November 1992 and has not been changed since.
Suzanne Sabo, Principal of Allen-Guerra Architecture, purchased the 212-acre lot in the summer of 2021. Currently, only Phase 1 of the planned unit development has been built.
Sabo purchased it at the time of the sale with the intention of fulfilling the original purpose of the unit’s planned development – to develop a second area, called Phase 2, of the property.
However, before Sabo could subdivide it, the county asked him to make changes to prepare the area.
Although amendments were proposed two weeks ago, the stewards did not pass them due to a lack of information about a proposed trail change and complaints that were raised at their meeting last week.
The proposed changes would modernize the planned unit development with fire mitigation, add trail easements, update road access and prepare the area for Phase 2 development.
One of the trails, the Spiral Staircase Trail, was scheduled for completion in the 1990s under an agreement between the previous owner and the county. The trail was never completed, which left it dead end at the boundary of the Phase 2 property.
The idea for the modification to the original plan on June 28 was to connect the spiral staircase trail to phase 1.
Residents of the ward’s Phase 1 who attended the June 28 meeting, however, raised concerns about the reassignment. They were concerned about traffic in the neighborhood once the trail was completed.
“They didn’t want a lot of cyclists going down that very steep hill—Spiral Staircase is one of the steepest trails in the county—and destroying the environment and creating more erosion,” Sabo said.
A member of the neighborhood presented a proposed plan that he thought would work better.
Although the plan had logistical advantages, Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she did not have enough time or information to make a decision, and Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue , also rejected the motion. Therefore, it did not pass.
Sabo said one of her main motivations when she purchased the property, and why she agreed to make changes to the unit’s planned development, was to give the trails to the county.
To better understand Spiral Staircase Trail and the entire property, Sabo invited officials from the Open Spaces and Trails Department and the Summit County Planning Department to hike Breckenridge Ranch to better understand the area.
While Sabo said she was disappointed it didn’t pass on June 28, she said the walk with officials after the June 28 meeting was worth it.
“I think that was a good thing because the site walk really opened everyone’s eyes to the possibilities of other trails we could dedicate to the county,” Sabo said.
Sabo said current Breckenridge Recreation director Scott Reid came up with the idea of a bike loop throughout Phase 2 that wouldn’t interfere with areas where residents didn’t want bikes.
Now new trails are being proposed that would make Spiral Staircase potentially a hiking-only trail, with a different bike loop on Bald Mountain.
Additionally, Bald Mountain Road was dedicated to the county.
Previously, Bald Mountain Road—a dirt road used by hikers, bikers, and others recreating in the area—was privately owned. Now the county has the right of way.
“It just means that (the county) is entitled to have that road there, and it’s really used as a hiking trail, a bike path…so it’s a huge thing for outdoor enthusiasts.”
Sabo said now that the planned unit development has been approved, she plans to submit the subdivision application as soon as possible.
“This process will take a few months, and hopefully we will complete this process in the fall,” Sabo said.
It will divide the area into 16 different properties for sale.
At the second meeting of county commissioners on July 12, Jessica Potter, senior planner for the Department of Open Spaces and Trails, outlined the new adjustments.
“There’s a ton of open space signings with this, so Open Space and the county are very excited about this prospect,” she said.
“I think it’s going to be amazing,” Sabo said.