Delaware-based Retreat Land, LLC received a conditional use permit Nov. 29 from Park County commissioners on agriculturally-zoned land known as Lone Rock Ranch.
According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s database, the Delaware company is not registered to conduct business in Colorado.
The commissioners attached ten conditions to the CUP. Six of those were recommended by the planning commission. The other four were generated by the county commissioners as a result of the Nov. 29 hearing.
The 2,127-acre ranch is in northeastern Park County. A conservation easement on 572 acres, including Lone Rock, is on the eastern side of the property. It will be utilized for passive recreation which is allowed under the easement.
Deer Creek runs through what was a 270-acre parcel of the ranch. It also has a conservation easement on it. That parcel plus five acre-feet of water rights were sold to Park County a couple of years ago.
James “Duke” Dozier’s residence on a 40-acre lot and another 120-acre vacant lot with Highway 285 access are not part of the retreat.
Lone Rock Ranch is adjacent to several residential developments, including Deer Creek Valley Ranchos, Woodside Park Estates, McKinley, Mill Iron D, Roland Valley and Lion’s Head Ranch.
According to the application packet, Retreat Land is under contract to purchase Lone Rock Ranch. The retreat facility will be operated as a nonprofit.
Under the approved CUP, Retreat Land will build one of three self-contained conference and retreat villages.
Several other approvals are needed before construction can begin, such as county 1041 water and wastewater permit, county 1041 wildlife habitat area permit, and state wastewater and discharge permits.
If wetlands are disturbed, a federal dredge and fill 404 permit may also be needed.
The county 1041 permits will address impacts of Village One in relation to wildlife, water usage and wastewater disposal. Both require a public hearing and public comment on the permits.
In order to build the other two villages, the same permits will be required, including conditional use permits.
Access onto the property will be on the U.S. Highway 285 curve near Roland Valley Drive. A two-track trail along Roland Creek will be improved to driveway standards from Highway 285 up to the villages.
A maintenance, delivery and storage area consisting of several buildings to service all three villages was part of the approval. This area is located closer to U.S. Highway 285 and also has a few parking spaces.
A day-use activity area for all villages on the west side of Roland Creek is also in the approval.
On the western edge of the property, a back country hut and tent camping platform were approved with the CUP. A wood stove will heat the hut.
Retreat Land did not state why it will go through the expensive process of several permit approvals for each of the three proposed villages instead of once for the entire development.
Amy Dee, Retreat Land LLC representative, said the target audience for the retreat is educators. At build-out, the retreat will be able to house 270 educators.
“Village One will never have more than 30 persons at a time. They’ll fly in from all over the United States,” Dee said. “Each group will stay for four days.” Shuttle buses will bring people to the retreat from the airport, she said.
If local educators are part of a group, the maintenance area has a few parking places for cars, she said.
Village One has 60 cabins. Each has a full bathroom and concept drawings show each will be heated by a wood stove.
An audience member asked why have 60 cabins if only 30 people will be at the retreat at one time.
Dee said 60 cabins are needed because some overlap of guests is expected, but by no more than a day.
The seminar building will have a meeting room for 60 persons and two 30-person meeting rooms plus a lounge.
The lodge has a commercial kitchen and dining area, a 30-person and a 60-person homeroom, a bar, wine cellar, yoga room and exercise room.
A separate spa building will have a sauna, hot tubs and lounge.
The application states each village will have a series of man-made hot springs constructed for recreational purposes.
Miles of trails and two-track roads exist on the property and will be used for hiking, mountain biking and as fire roads according to the application.
A helipad on the far western side is in the plan. It is not close to any of the proposed villages or proposed driveways.
According to Park County Planner John Deagan, Park County’s LUR allows helipads as a permitted use on agriculturally-zoned land.
Water for the entire development will come from up to 25 wells. Each village will have its own wells, storage, water treatment and delivery system.
Retreat Land is now going through water court to change the use of 12 acre-feet of Deer Creek water it is purchasing from Lone Rock Water, LLC.
That water will be used as augmentation water for the water wells. It will be stored and released into Deer Creek according to the water court augmentation application.
Each village will use a wastewater disposal system that requires state approval.
Effluent from each system will be piped to a wastewater treatment plant near Village One. Wastewater will be discharged into Roland Creek.
Dee said the company plans to have good Wi-Fi coverage all over the property.
She said the company will be open to discussing use by residents if they are close enough to any of the repeaters that will be required to provide coverage across the ranch.
The application states that Village One will cover 12 acres with up to 80,000 square feet of buildings.
Village Two, if approved in the future, will accommodate 90 people and 120,000 square feet of buildings on 18 acres. It will be located north of Village One.
Village Three, with future approval, will accommodate 120 persons with 160,000 square feet of buildings on 24 acres. It will be located west of Village Two.
All buildings will be no taller than three stories and made mostly of glass from floor to ceiling.
The application states horseback riding and maybe pack animals such as llamas will be used, but no corrals or barns are in the CUP.
Five residents expressed concerns, mostly about light pollution, wildfires from outdoor fires, need for a fire evacuation route from Village Three to County Road 43, water and wastewater usage, and wildlife.
Attendees were not answered about wildlife, water and wastewater because they will be addressed in future 1041 hearings or are under the state’s authority.
The amount of water necessary for man-made hot springs and hot tubs was mentioned.
Speakers were told that water and wastewater are state and water court issues. Impacts would also be addressed in a 1041 permit hearing.
Commissioner Dick Elsner said completing a fire evacuation route would be more appropriate during the approval of Village Three.
Commissioner Mike Brazell asked how many miles were needed to extend a road from Village Three and who would pay for it.
“I don’t know the cost. I just know there is a need,” John Van Doren of Fire Adapted Bailey said.
He said Sheriff-elect Tom McGraw and Platte Canyon Fire Chief Joe Burgett were also concerned about lack of emergency evacuation routes.
Dee said Retreat Land would be interested in discussing cost sharing for a future evacuation route.
Several expressed concern about the amount of lighting shown in the concept drawings and asked that dark sky lighting be required.
Planner John Deagan said the county doesn’t have a dark sky ordinance, so land use regulations on lighting would apply.
The amount of wastewater effluent proposed to be discharged into Roland Creek and the possible impacts to the aquatic flora and fauna were a concern of more than one person.
The commissioners said that was a state issue, not a county issue.
Concern was expressed over impacts, especially to wildlife, from helicopters.
Commissioners said helipads are allowed in agricultural-zoned property.
Another resident expressed concern about preserving any Ute culturally-modified trees found on the property. She said some were on her property in Deer Creek Valley Ranchos. They are found in many areas of the Platte Canyon region.
Dee said modified trees would be addressed in 1041 permits.
Some were concerned that the facility’s use would not be limited to teachers in groups of thirty since 60 cabins were in the plan.
A couple of attendees said they didn’t believe the use at Village One would be limited to 30 teachers at a time over the course of each year.
It might be filled to capacity during the summer months, but not when school is in session.
One said that the property and infrastructure for Village One would cost tens of millions of dollars, so more attendees than 30 at a time would be needed to pay costs.
The property was listed for sale at $10 million. Details of the purchase contract are not open to disclosure at a CUP hearing.
One resident was concerned about whether a shooting range was planned.
Commissioner Mike Brazell asked if they planned on hunting on the property.
Dee said they may have an archery range, but not a gun shooting range. If guests wanted to use a gun range, the retreat would provide transportation to a nearby range.
She said guests would not be allowed to hunt, but any nuisance animals would be hunted and disposed of by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Conditions of permit
Four conditions added by the county commissioners were:
1. Outdoor fires are prohibited unless non-ember producing fuels are used.
2. Shooting ranges are prohibited.
3. All statements and representations made by the applicant shall be binding as conditions of approval.
4. The retreat facility will be operated as a nonprofit institute serving public and private educational communities for the development of teachers and leadership.
The six conditions recommended by the planning commission and incorporated into the CUP approval are:
1. The CUP scope is limited to Village One, recreational and support facilities described in the application. Villages Two and Three will need additional CUP approvals.
The remaining conditions must all be completed before any development permits are issued.
2. 1041 wildlife and water permits are issued by the county.
3. Receive a Colorado Department of Transportation access permit from Highway 285.
4. Driveway meeting county and Platte Canyon Fire Protection District regulations is constructed and approved.
5. County has approved a drainage, erosion and sedimentation control plan.
6. Written proof from PCFPD that all applicable fire codes have been incorporated into the design.
Nov. 21 commissioners meeting
Nov. 21, United States Forest Service Forest Reserve Title III funds of $20,021 received in 2017 were distributed to three entities that performed qualified Title III activities in 2018.
In the past, funds could only be spent on search and rescue or other emergency services conducted on federal property.
Park County Search and Rescue has relied on Title III funds to offset its rescue costs over the years.
PCSR is a non-profit organization manned only by volunteers and never charges a fee for its search and rescue operations.
Over recent years, additional uses for Title III funds were added, including fire mitigation on private land through the Firewise Communities program; and development of community wildfire protection plans; and fighting fires on federal land.
In 2018, police patrols on federal land, purchasing emergency services equipment, training costs and implementing CWPPs were added as allowed activities for reimbursement.
The commissioners approved reimbursing $1,500 each to Coalition of the Upper South Platte and Fire Adapted Bailey for fire mitigation programs and services on private property. Search and Rescue received $17,021.
Vouchers for the weeks of Nov. 21 and Nov. 28 were combined by The Flume. Total spent was $944,559.
The largest amount was spent by the capital expenditure fund, totaling $475,465 for the new county building.
The general and the self-insurance funds spent the next highest at $175,975 and $115,773 respectively.
The grant fund spent $100,039, and public works spent $27,606.
The recreation fund spent $22,302, and human services vouchers were $19,100.
Fleet services vouchers were $4,367, and a sales tax voucher was for $3,771.
The remaining $160 was spent by the conservation trust fund for $140 and E-911 authority for $20.