Town board approves Heron Pointe concept plan

By Rudy Hemmann
The Surveyor

The Berthoud Board of Trustees met before a packed council chamber Tuesday evening and held a four-hour meeting which included a public hearing. The majority of the audience members present were opposed to the Heron Pointe development.

Trustees unanimously approved the serial annexation for the Heron Pointe Development, associated zoning requests, and concept plan.

The property is located at the intersection of Larimer County Road (LCR) 14 (also known locally as SW 42nd Street, Campion Road, and Highway 60) and LCR 17.

The owners of the approximately 75.7 acre (plus road rights-of-way of about 15 acres) tract are Taft Enterprises (Robert Dehn, manager) and Taft Center, LLC (Stephen Steinbicker, manager, with Shelly Trent, Alan Trent and Stephen Sprenger).

A large water tank owned by the City of Loveland is also located on the site, but the tank and surrounding property are excluded from the annexation. The property is bisected by LCR 17.

Interim Town Planner Sherry Albertson-Clark introduced the staff report regarding the annexation, zoning, and walked the trustees through the concept plan process. She reminded the trustees that following deliberation the board could approve the concept plan as presented, approve with conditions, or deny the plan.

According to the staff report, the owner/applicants are requesting, following annexation, the board consider four zonings for different locations of the property; R-1, Single-Family Residential on approximately 45.5 acres of the western portion of the property, R-4, Mixed-Use on approximately 16.2 acres immediately west of LCR 17, C-2, General Commercial on a 21.3 acre tract immediately east of LCR 17, and T-Transitional on .37 acres located at the southeast corner of the site.

The proposed zoning districts are consistent with the land use designations of the town’s preferred land use as outlined in the comprehensive plan. The staff report states the following concerning the concept plan which is a relatively recent addition to the development code:

“Under the town’s development code, a concept plan is a broad concept that describes in general terms what the applicant envisions for the proposed development.

During the public hearing, approximately 22 residents spoke against the proposals brought forward. They cited a litany of complaints against the project. The issues presented by the public included: density of the proposed development is too high; excessive traffic on LCR 17; storm water drainage issues; infrastructure issues; water and sewer issues; and being against any type of commercial development in the area.

Following the public hearing, the board had questions for town staff and the applicants concerning the project issues including: traffic issues and whether a roundabout would be constructed on LCR 17 as shown on the concept plan map; approached the applicants regarding a buffer strip between the proposed Heron Pointe development and the Colony Ridge neighborhood to the south; questioned the developers regarding the reason for commercial development and high density housing were suggested for the property; questioned BBC Research & Consulting representative Adam Orens regarding the rationale for a fiscal impact analysis his firm did in support of the project.

During board discussion, Mayor David Gregg made it clear that the town would not tax the residents of the area to pay for the proposed Heron Pointe development; the town was not looking to annex other properties in the area. Property owners would have to request annexation. He also stated it made sense to develop commercial nodes at major intersections.

Dedication of parkland and open space was discussed as was the issue of whether detention cells can be applied toward park and open-space requirements.

Trustee Jan Dowker explained that major funding from the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization, of which Dowker is the chair, was in place for the widening of LCR 17, and that widening will help all people who use the road; the commuters as well as the local residents. Dowker pointed out that the trustees were investing a considerable amount of time to ensure that the Heron Pointe development, including LCR 17, was done properly.

“How do we create a sustainable community?” asked Dowker, “one of the things we know is multi-family housing is seriously lacking all over northern Colorado. Affordable housing is seriously lacking in northern Colorado … We have listened and have heard your concerns …

We are trying our best to make this (approval) a winning solution for everyone involved.”

Town Administrator Mike Hart stated the development of not only Heron Pointe but the PrairieStar property and the potential development of the Bader property immediately south of the Colony Ridge neighborhood would free up capital in the form of development fees which would then be used to fix many of the issues (poor drainage that leads to flooded basements, traffic issues on LCR 17, low water pressure, etc.) that the county residents have brought up as concerns.

A sticking point arose during the board deliberation concerning the R-4 zoning requested by the developer for the 16.2 acre portion of the development just to the west of LCR 17. The members of the board thought the requested zoning (R-4) allowed the possibility for too much commercial development on that part of the development. (Once zoning is approved, all uses allowed under that zoning category become a “use by right.”) After discussion the board and the developer agreed that an R-3 zoning district would be a better fit for that portion of the development. The R-3 zoning district allows far less commercial development with the allowable density remaining virtually the same.

The developer, on suggestion from the board, also agreed to move some of the multi-family housing to the north and west, away from the Colony Ridge neighborhood. The prospect of having multi-family housing virtually next door to them angered many of the Colony Ridge residents.

Following the vote approving the plan, Dehn stated, “I’m here for Berthoud and the citizens of the town. I want to make sure the project is the best it can possibly be. We will work hard to see to it that the development works for the neighbors.

“We have some homework to do but we’re fighters and we will fight through the remaining issues.”