Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DeNovo to sell property

But development application is still before city

Express Staff Writer

DeNovo Independence is hoping the Sun Valley City Council will differ from the city's Planning and Zoning Commission in its opinion of a proposed 15-home subdivision on the hills above Elkhorn.

The developer is set to present its case at a public hearing Tuesday, Oct. 6, at Sun Valley City Hall.

In April, the P&Z recommended that the council deny an application by DeNovo to amend the city's comprehensive plan by adding 428 acres of the company's property in Independence Gulch to the city's future land-use map. The request was the first step toward annexation of the property.

In addition to the council's vote, there is another question mark lurking around DeNovo's plans for the property because the developer has put the land up for sale. According to the Multiple Listing Service real estate Web site, the property is on the market for $31.6 million.

DeNovo was initially scheduled to bring its application for a comprehensive plan amendment to the council Aug. 4, but requested an additional 60 days to gather more information.

Sun Valley City Planner Diane Shay said the extra time would be used to work on solutions to address health and safety issues, specifically that the location and the steep grade of the access road would put residents in harm's way in the case of a wildfire.

"I think they're pretty tough issues," Shay said. "They have to satisfy a number of fire departments."

At April's P&Z meeting, Sun Valley Fire Chief Jeff Carnes voiced strong opposition to the plan, citing the steep grade of the access road. Carnes said he prefers grades of no more than 10 percent for straight roads and 7 percent for curved roads. DeNovo's proposal has roads of up to 12 percent.

As well, the commission found fault with the fact that DeNovo was proposing lots on slopes ranging between zero and 25 percent grade. Sun Valley's hillside ordinances prohibit most development on slopes between 15 and 20 percent, and in all cases on slopes of 25 percent or more.

DeNovo purchased 848 acres of land just north of Triumph in October. The property spans both sides of the ridge that separates Sun Valley from the East Fork of the Big Wood River. DeNovo plans to set aside 85 percent of the property for conservation and recreation while developing 15 home sites on the northwest section of the property.

According to Shay, the development company has maintained a commitment to cleaning up mine tailings at the Triumph, Independence and Northstar mine sites, regardless of approval.

If the property is sold, however, the question over how and when the mines will be cleaned remains.

A spokesperson for DeNovo could not be reached by press time Tuesday.

Jon Duval:

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