Some local residents are concerned that by allowing the developer to move ahead with financing before a preliminary plat is approved, certain development rights will vest in the developer before the county has had adequate time to review and consider project plans.
Cornerstone Ranch, now owned by the Texas-based Hunt Realty Corporation, is the new name for Hideout Ranch. Hunt touts the ranch as a "four-season, private second-home community dedicated to living Colorado style with an ideal location equidistant from the ski town of Telluride, the historic mining town of Ouray and the growing regional transportation and commercial hub of Montrose." The "400 residence golf and equestrian community" development is proposed for 6,000 acres that lie where the boundaries of Ouray, Montrose and San Miguel Counties come together. All of the proposed development lies in Montrose and Ouray Counties. If approved and finished, Montrose would see 284 new single family residences on the 1,567 acres that lie in Montrose County. Ouray County has already approved 128 residences in a clustered development, as well as an equestrian center, a golf course (purportedly to be designed by pro golfer Greg Norman and staffed by former Pebble Beach Golf Links superintendent Tom Huesgen), fishing ponds, as well as its own wastewater treatment plant, which is required by the county.
According to the Hunt Realty website, "the Cornerstone Club golf course is currently under construction with an anticipated opening date of summer of 2006 to coincide with the completion of the first residences." According to Hunt Realty Corporation President Gene Sanger, "Cornerstone will be all about enjoying life Colorado style."
"Our board has allowed them to begin building infrastructure and they are moving dirt right now," said Ouray County Planner Greg Moberg.
On the other side of the county line in Montrose County, the developer needs additional financing. To that end Hunt Realty has asked the Montrose County Board of County Commissioners for an exception for agree-to planning documents. Those documents, an intergovernmental agreement between the county and a metropolitan authority established by the developer to build certain infrastructure, require that the developer receive approval of a final plat before it secures financing. The metro district will provide sewer, roads, water and fire protection to the community, said Rick Gibbons, Montrose County planner.
"They are asking for changes to the service plan that will allow them to issue debt prior to the final plat for the subdivision. Right now it can't issue debt prior to the final plat," said Gibbons.
Some in Montrose County are concerned about Cornerstone's request.
"What they have done in this case is come to the county and say we would like you to allow us to raise the money immediately," said Peter Crowell, a Montrose County resident and member of the Uncompahgre Valley Association. "The problem with that is that the county land use department feels this would vest them with certain rights. We agreed with that and opposed the exemption."
The developer hoped to have its request heard at a June 20 board of county commissioners meeting. However, because the developer submitted a substitute sketch plan to the county not long before the hearing, the meeting was postponed until July.
"In other words, they are asking to be allowed to raise money for something that nobody knew anything about, much less waiting for a preliminary plat," said Crowell. "As a private citizen, this is chicanery and double dealing."
A hearing on the developer's request will be held Monday, July 18 before the Montrose Board of County Commissioners.
According to its website, Hunt Realty is the centralized real estate investment management resource for the family of Hunt companies controlled by Ray L. Hunt and his family. Hunt Realty has been active in the acquisition, ownership and investment in the real estate industry for more than 25 years. Its direct and operating company activities include land development, hotels and resorts, commercial, industrial and single multi-family housing.