October 2008

October 2008

700-lot subdivision may be sprouting in Totten Lake area

By Gail Binkly

A subdivision that would dwarf any other built so far in Montezuma County is being planned for a 460-acre parcel east of Cortez near Totten Reservoir.

Although the developers have yet to submit a formal application for zoning to the county, they have given preliminary documents to the planning office. A representative also spoke to the Cortez Sanitation District board about the project at its Sept. 8 meeting.

Called the Totten Reservoir Sustainable Community or the Tottenville Project in preliminary proposals, the development would be “a mixed-use subdivision of nearly 800 homes and commercial uses,” the documents say. It is described as having 700 living units, ranging from studio apartments of 600 square feet to fourbedroom homes of 2,000 feet or more.

Lot sizes would range from onequarter acre to one acre.

The biggest subdivision in Montezuma County at present is Cedar Mesa, north of Highway 160 near the Mesa Verde exit, which has 148 lots, many of them still empty.

The Tottenville development is envisioned as “a fully environmentally sustainable community” that would incorporate solar heating, solar power production, ground-source heat-pump supplemental energy, green building practices, recycling, conservation, and low-impact infrastructure development “whenever possible,” the proposal says.

AN L-SHAPED TRACT NEAR TOTTEN RESERVOIR IS THE SITE OF A PROPOSED 700-LOT SUBDIVISION.The subdivision would in effect become another municipality in the county.

In addition to the 700 living units, it would contain some 600 garages/carports and 73,000 square feet of business and civic centers, documents say. It would have a post office, convenience stores, coffee shops and restaurants, schools, a community/recreation center, a town meeting hall, medical/ dental offices and an 8,000- square-foot grocery store.

Eight percent of the total acreage would be dedicted to “building footprints,” according to the planning documents.

The subdivision’s mission, documents state, is to be “Colorado’s first environmentally and economically sustainable village.”

Tottenville is envisioned as pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with all residences located within a five- or 10- minute walk of a commercial area. Houses would face central pedestrian and bike avenues, providing a safe zone for children and pedestrians as well as a “kinder, gentler” neighborhood, while streets for vehicle traffic would lie at the backs of the houses.

Dean Matthews, a director with the Four Corners Builders Association and a partner in AMC Developing, which is developing Fairway View Estates east of Cortez, is one of the developers for the project. The property is currently owned by Scott and Joe D. Tipton, according to public records.

The tract is an L-shaped piece whose western border adjoins Fairway View Estates. Totten Reservoir juts northward into the southeastern portion of the property, and a private wildlife refuge lies along the northeastern boundary.

Montezuma County has a minimum lot size of three acres; however, that requirement can be waived for developments that are granted “Urban Services” zoning as defined under the land-use code. The Urban Services Zone is designed to encourage higherdensity developments near municipalities, where urban services such as sewer and water are available.

However, Tottenville as planned would not actually receive municipal services.

Instead, water would be supplied by Montezuma Water Company, and the development would have its own sewage-treatment system, with an aerated lagoon facility followed by constructed wetlands, according to the proposal. The effluent from the wetlands would be pumped to be further reclaimed and reprocessed in features such as ponds, irrigation and other uses, the proposal states.

The Montezuma County Land Use Code states, in section 3310.1, “The Urban Services Zone allows for higher intensity development where urban services appropriate to the intended use are available. An Urban Service Zone designation cannot be established without clear evidence that services are, or can be made available, to the site within a reasonable time without undue public costs.”

Whether this means that a development would actually have to obtain urban services in order to be eligible for the zoning is unclear.

Matthews came before the Cortez Sanitation District board Sept. 8 to advise the members about the development even though the promoters are not seeking for it to be taken into the sanitation district.

Jay Conner, manager of the sanitation district, told the Free Press the board had questions about the proposal when it was brought before them, but made no decision on whether to support the idea of the development having its own sewage-treatment facility. The sanitation district has no authority over the proposal other than making a recommendation to the state, he said.

“The state will probably ask us our opinion since we’re the major utility provider in the area,” Conner said.

He said the board members “didn’t give a full opinion on whether they felt [the sewage-treatment proposal] was adequate or not. Their position was to wait and see what the state thought.

“The board will have to really discuss this before we make a full recommendation,” Conner added. “It did appear the board was kind of split. Some thought it was a good idea; some thought they really need to come into the sanitation district.

“One of the things we definitely want to avoid is another Lakeside [a trailer park near Totten Reservoir with chronic septic problems],” Conner said. “By no means am I indicating this would be like that, but we want to make sure.”

Sewer taps from the Cortez Sanitation District cost $4,500 per residence, but the money can be paid over time as the subdivision is built, Conner said.

He said, in order to handle such a huge subdivision, the sanitation district would need to make some improvements to its sewage infrastructure. “The treatment facility itself would handle it, but we would probably have to do some upgrades to the collector system and we would be looking to the developer to assist us in that.”

Urban Services Zoning is fairly uncommon in Montezuma County. According to the planning department, there are currently just 13 parcels totaling 384.6 acres that carry the zoning or have it as a zoning “preference” not yet validated by the county. Two parcels are near the town of Mancos and the other 11 are just outside of Cortez.

Developers reportedly have had one meeting with some neighbors and are planning another for neighbors and interested citizens. That one is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m., at the Calvin Denton Room at Empire Electric, 801 N. Broadway.