County backs Holcim housing development, Colorado, US

County backs Holcim housing development, Colorado, US
Published: 14 December 2009

The first major housing development on property formerly owned by the Holcim cement plant near LaPorte has cleared a significant hurdle.

The Larimer County commissioners Monday approved a preliminary plat for the Lake at Bighorn, a 371-acre conservation development that would be northwest of the intersection of Taft Hill Road and County Road 56.

The development would have 31 single-family residences on 1- and 2.5-acre lots. Some of the houses would be clustered near the eastern edge of Curtis Lakes with most of the property left open as "residual" land.

Construction on the property is not likely to happen until 2011, said Patricia Kroetch, a civil engineer with North Star Design of Windsor. Kroetch is working on the project with the land’s owner, David Santistevan of Rockridge LLC, a San Diego real-estate investment company.

Designs for the development have to be finalised and conditions of approval set by the county addressed, Kroetch said. The construction schedule will depend on the demand for homes, she said.

"Like everything, that will be driven by the economy," she said in an interview.

The Holcim cement plant closed in 2002 after 75 years of operation. Property owned by Holcim stretched nearly 5 miles north of the plant site near Overland Trail and east to Taft Hill Road. Land that was not part of the plant’s mining and processing functions was left untouched or used to graze livestock.

In 2005, Holcim auctioned nearly 3,000 acres of land and 800 shares of Colorado-Big Thompson water for about $16.8 million. The company retained ownership of a silo structure that is still used to store cement.

Commissioner Kathay Rennels said she is glad to see a plan for the property.

"There is some organisation here," she said. "The randomness of that original auction in my opinion was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen."

The Lake at Bighorn property is the assemblage of 35-acre lots sold at auction that is under one owner, said Rob Helmick, senior planner with the county.

Previous efforts to come up with a development plan for the property fell apart when agreements could not be reached with multiple owners, he said.