Tree Tops is back

The third time may be a charm for TreeTops developers who will present their “project concept” to the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) tonight at 6 p.m.

According to Will Neder, head of development operations for the TreeTops of Pagosa project, he and his colleagues will present a basic introduction of the project, including the project’s origins, why the particular property was selected for development and what the project hopes to achieve.

“The design concept is an intimate, beautiful mountain village feel with live-work, mixed-use and mixed demographic components,” Neder said. “We want to make wise use of traffic patterns and create intimate public spaces. This is an environmentally and socially sensitive project.”

The project is proposed for a 52-acre parcel 3.7 miles up Piedra Road from the intersection of Piedra and U.S. 160.

Neder said the intent of the meeting with the BoCC is to receive general direction from the board, who will ultimately be the decision makers on the project. For example, if the commissioners disapprove of the TreeTops concept, Neder said his group can go back and re-draw the project until the commissioners like it. If the commissioners approve of the concept, Neder said that allows his group to go forward with the planning process, including drafting of a development agreement and public hearings before the county planning commission and the BoCC.

Rick Bellis, director of county development, said board review of a project concept lets, “the public be alerted early that a developer is interested in doing a project. This is not unique to TreeTops. This is not a unique project. Any applicant, any time has the privilege of going directly to the BoCC.”

Tonight’s meeting will mark TreeTops’ third appearance before county officials. It went to the county planning commission twice — the first for preliminary plan approval, the second for a rezone request. The planning commission tabled preliminary plan approval Feb. 14, 2007, citing concerns over vague project details and procedural issues related to Planned Unit Developments. More recently, the planning commission voted against the rezone request, stating a desire to finish the Urban Services Area project before they decided if TreeTops was appropriate for its location on Piedra Road.

The BoCC approved the Urban Services Area and future land use map Dec. 22, 2008.

According to county staff, the Urban Services Area and Future Land Use Map projects were undertaken to address future growth within the unincorporated, unsubdivided portion of the county between the current Town of Pagosa Springs limits and their three mile annexation boundary as allowed and established by statute.

Specifically, the Future Land Use Map identifies areas where growth may occur in the future, but does not change the current underlying zoning on parcels within the county.