OPINION: Between a Stockyard and a Sewer Plant

The December 1 Salida City Council work session introduced the Council and the Planning Commission to two annexation petitions. This article addresses the annexation application of Sprout Tiny Homes LLC, pages 16-34 of the packet.

The work session packet can be viewed here.

You can download a cleaner PDF of pages 28-30 from the Council packet, here.

The annexation applicant is Tiny Sprouts Homes LLC. The name of the development is Angler’s Ridge Annexation and River Village at Cleora. The property, 19.1 acres, is located on CR 102 between the stockyards and the waste treatment plant. The developer proposes to put 200 tiny homes on the property, plus a restaurant (on a subdivided parcel), community building, storage and office. It is to be zoned “Planned Development” described as a “workforce housing community”.

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In case I get accused of being against workforce housing, I’d like to clarify that I am in favor of workforce housing, have advocated for workforce housing, and am acutely aware of the local need for workforce housing.

That being said, I am not in favor of Salida’s current water and sewer customers heavily subsidizing workforce housing, which seems to be the case with this proposed planned development.

Angler’s Ridge is part of a “serial annexation” application, which also includes the waste treatment plant property and the property owned by Deborah Papp off CR 105. It’s Papp’s property which makes the annexation possible. Her property is contiguous with Vandaveer Ranch and the City wastewater plant. The wastewater plant is contiguous with the Angler’s Ridge property.

I have not personally spoken to Ms. Papp, but it’s my understanding that our city administrator has promised Ms. Papp that the city would clean up her property and build a boat ramp on her property if she agrees to the annexation. Did the previous council direct her to make those offers and incurred expenses in order to annex Papp’s property?

Back to the Angler’s Ridge parcel. The assessor’s records list the owner of the property as Angler’s Ridge LLC. Angler’s Ridge LLC purchased the property November 2, 2007.

The Secretary of State website shows that the registered agent for Angler’s Ridge, LLC is David Martin. The address is 9999 Poncha Springs Lane, Poncha Springs, CO 81242, which is also the address for United Country Heart of the Rockies Real Estate.

David Martin is an associate broker for United Country. But more importantly, Dave Martin is a developer who has expressed interest in developing Vandaveer Ranch with light industrial. Ray Kitson brought Martin to a NRCDC meeting to present his sincerity in pursuing light industrial development at Vandaveer. He was still lining up investors, and then the music festival delayed things, Martin told the NRCDC board.

It’s interesting (at least to me) that an August 21, 2015 Mountain Mail article said:

“Ray Kitson, NRCDC board president, also mentioned talks with Sprout Homes, which is considering putting about 200 tiny houses on a 19-acre stretch between the city’s wastewater treatment plant and CR 102. Sprout Homes plans to build the tiny houses as rentals.

Because the land is currently in unincorporated Chaffee County, the company will likely submit an annex application in the next 2 weeks, said MacDonald.

Kitson added that he is trying to negotiate with Sprout Homes to put its manufacturing facility at Vandaveer Ranch as well.”

There is no mention of Dave Martin as a player in the Sprout Tiny Homes deal and owner of the Sprout Tiny Homes property. According to the packet, the 200 tiny homes will be located on the one parcel (Angler’s Ridge) and will be strictly rental units. As many as one-third of the tiny homes (66 homes) may be used for short term workforce housing rentals. That is, vacation rentals, rented for less than 30 days and subject to lodging and sales tax.

According to Dianne at the Sprout facility in La Junta, the tiny homes will be placed on a foundation. They will range in size from 260 square feet to 427 square feet. The cost to rent these tiny homes has not been decided. My research indicates that the per square foot cost of tiny homes is not cheap.

This planned development of tiny homes (called River Village at Cleora) proposes to tie into the oversized 8-inch water pipe at the wastewater plant. The previous council voted to spend $600,000 to provide the wastewater plant with potable water, which could have easily been provided in a 1 inch pipe. Instead, the city paid for an 8-inch pipe. Thus Salida Utilities customers have already subsidized the oversizing of a water pipe from 1 inch to 8 inches, and are therefore paying for development of River Village, when in fact, new development is supposed to pay its own way and not burden the current citizens of Salida.

But there’s more. The packet documents reveal that the developers are proposing just 36 water and sewer taps to serve the 200 tiny homes. Isn’t this is in violation of municipal code that requires one tap per residential unit? Size of unit is not a consideration.

Sprout Tiny Homes is also developing a 3-acre parcel in Walsenburg with 28 tiny homes. Walsenburg is requiring that each tiny home be on a foundation and have its own water and sewer tap.

If the proposal for just 36 taps to serve 200 residential units is approved, the current Salida Utilities customers would again be subsidizing this new development that is proposing to not follow the same development and fee rules the rest of us must follow. Current rental property owners (and therefore renters) and vacation property owners in Salida would be part of those subsidizing this planned development.

2016 tap fees are (water fees) $9,943 for residential, $4,972 for unrestricted ADU, (and sewer) $5,206 for residential, and $2,603 for unrestricted ADU.

And what would the water and sewer monthly fees and charges be for the 200 tiny homes?

It’s interesting that the proposal categorizes the 200 units as follows:

Waterhaus 427 … 125 units
ADU 260 … 55 units
Pod houses 395 … 20 units

Can you have 55 ADUs on one parcel?

It’s my understanding that a tiny home on a permanent foundation is subject to residential building codes. Each tiny home must apply for a building permit and will be assessed as a single family residence. The tiny homes used as vacation rentals might possibly be assessed as commercial property. Chaffee County assessor Brenda Mosby has asked to meet with the River Village developers, but thus far they have declined her offer.

Stay tuned.

Cynda Green

Cynda Green is an investigative reporter who enjoys writing about various and sundry topics, least of which is politics. But someone has to do it. Contact: cyndagreen@gmail.com