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Minutes 06/29/09 / PUBLIC HEARING June 29, 2009 Present: Sara Fisher Peter Runyon Jon Stavney Keith Montag Bryan Treu Robert Morris Kathy Scriver Chairman Commissioner Commissioner County Manager County Attorney Deputy County Attorney Deputy Clerk to the Board This being a scheduled Public Hearing, the following items were presented to the Board of County Commissioners for their consideration: Public Hearing Open Space - Colorado River Ranch Title: Colorado River Ranch Conservation Easement Owner: River Ranch, LLC c/o John P. Lichtenegger 1210 Greenway Drive, PO Box 350, Jackson, Missouri, 63755 Location: l2799 Colorado River Ranch Road, 12 miles north of Dotsero on the Colorado River Road Date: June 30, 2009 Representative: Eagle Valley Land Trust Staff Planner: Cliff Simonton, Planner I. Project Overview The Eagle Valley Land Trust, representing the River Ranch, LLC, is requesting Eagle County Open Space Tax funds in the amount of $5,750,000 to secure a conservation easement on the l,Ol7 acre Colorado River Ranch. The ranch is 12 miles north of Dotsero off the Colorado River Road. The existing land use is ranching; as it has been since the property was originally homesteaded in 1901. Placing an easement on this property will secure the heritage of the land as a working ranching, preserve views, visual quality in the area, protect wildlife and riparian habitat, provide new access to the Colorado River and enhance existing access to public lands. According to the draft conservation easement, the existing Residential Improvements and Agricultural Improvements are located within the Ranch Headquarters Envelope (RHE) which is a lO acre area. Within the RHE, the owners are reserving the right to tear down and build a new residential unit up to 7,000 sq. ft. and may add or expand Agricultural Improvements without limit. Any indoor or outdoor riding area and stable within RHE is exempt from the limitations and requirements of the easement. Buildings within the RHE will not exceed 50 percent coverage of the RHE. Outside of the RHE, the owners may construct no more than 10 new Agricultural Improvements which can be no more than 3,000 square feet in floor area and no more than two new Agricultural Improvements which cannot exceed 5,000 square feet of floor area each. These new Agricultural Improvements therefore may total up to 40,000 square feet. The owners are also reserving the right to subdivide a 70 acre tract into two 35 acre parcels which cannot be sold separately from the ranch. A 7,000 square foot residence is allowed on one 35 acre parcel. The other 35 acre parcel may contain a second 7,000 sq. ft. residence or a fishing/hunting lodge of no more than 9,000 square feet. Neither structure may encroach within 150 feet of the Colorado River. The Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) initially reviewed this project on March 9, 2009, and April 13, 2009, when the northern most 514 acres were proposed for preservation. On May 11, 2009, OSAC unanimously 1 06/29/09 \ agreed with the recommendations from staff, but had additional comments they wanted brought forward to the Board. The property was targeted in the recent past for development. On May 8, 2001, the Board of County Commissioners approved a Planned Unit Development (PUD) Preliminary Plan application for the Colorado River Ranch PUD - (File No. PDP-000l8). The developed portion of the property would have covered approximately 200 +/- acres accommodating: l. An l8 hole golf course; 2. Golf course clubhouse facility with a pro shop, cart storage, restaurant and l6 overnight rooms; 3. 25 small ranch homesteads; 4. A children's pavilion; 5. Golf course maintenance facility with an employee dorm; 6. Pool(s), tennis court(s), sporting clays, etc; and 7. Related facilities including comfort stations, range building, pump-houses. 8. Fire station with two bays and an employee unit housing up to four employees; Agricultural uses (a ranch operation) and open space would have covered the balance of the ranch, approximately 800 +/- acres. The Colorado River Ranch PUD Preliminary Plan approval was valid for five years. On February 8, 2006, the Board of County Commissioners was petitioned by the owner of the property with a request to extend the Preliminary Plan approval for an additional two years. On March 28,2006, the Board of County Commissioners denied the request for extension based on the applicant's failure to proceed with a speculative development and a determination that the proposed development no longer complied with Land Use Regulations as well as the Comprehensive Plan. Subsequently, on May 29,2007, the zoning was changed on the Colorado River Ranch from PUD back to Resource. No other development applications have been submitted to Eagle County for the subject property. The total appraised value of the Colorado River Ranch that is being considered by this application is $13,250,000. The appraisal was done by David E. Peterson in May 2009. According to the appraisal, the value of the land after the development rights have been removed by the conservation easement is $5,300,000. Therefore, the value of the conservation easement has been set at $7,950,000. River Ranch, LLC has agreed to a bargain sale, with a contribution of $1,000,000 value resulting in a project cost of $6,950,000. The funding request for Eagle County open space funds is $5,750,000, which is 72% of the easement value. An application for $800,000 has been submitted to Great Outdoors Colorado. This leaves a budget shortfall of $400,000. The Gates Family Foundation, Keep It Colorado - Colorado Conservation Trust, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation - Acres for America program, as well as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are being contacted by the Eagle Valley Land Trust for donation requests. Other gifts and grants from individuals may eventually contribute to the purchase of this portion of the Colorado River Ranch. II. Land Description The Colorado River Ranch is located in the rural upper Colorado River drainage. The property is the largest remaining private in holding in the Colorado River corridor surrounded by public lands zoned Resource Preservation and private lands zoned Resource. Approximately two miles of the Colorado River flow through the property, as does 1.25 miles of Willow Creek, a tributary to the Colorado River. The eastern part of the property lies in the Colorado River bottomlands and has relatively low topographic relief. The west part of the property encompasses the steep, narrow canyon of Willow Creek. Topographic features include bluffs along the west bank of the Colorado River and the canyon of Willow Creek. Approximately 600 acres of the property are considered pasture lands. The property includes one home at the northern end of the property, plus a number of barns, stables, corrals, and outbuildings used in conjunction with traditional ranching operations. Throughout the property are hay corrals, 2 06/29/09 pens, ditches, head gates, and fences used in ranching. This summer, installation will begin on a pivot irrigation system to improve the productivity of the grazing lands and hay fields. Access is from the Colorado River Road. Unimproved dirt roads are located throughout the property to provide internal access to various portions of the ranch. III. Site and Transaction Information Total land area: l,Ol7 acres Land Area in Eagle County: 1,017 acres Current Land Use/Zoning: AgriculturallResource Surrounding Land Uses / Zoning: East: Agricultural and Public Land BLM/Resource and Resource Preservation West: Public Land- BLM/Resource Preservation North: Agricultural and Public Land BLM/Resource and Resource Preservation South: Agricultural and Public Land BLM/Resource and Resource Preservation Proposed Ownership: Ownership of the ranch would remain with River Ranch, LLC, with a conservation easement to be held by the Eagle Valley Land Trust. Appraised Value of the Easement: Owner's Contribution: $7,950,000 $1,000,000 (12%) Other Funding Sources: OSAC Funding Request: Budget Shortfall: $800,000 request from GOCO $5,750,000 (approximately 72% of easement value) $400,000 - Remainder to come from EVL T and private sources IV. OSAC Limited Review: At its scheduled meeting on March 9,2009, the Citizen's Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) considered the information submitted by the owners' representative and EVL T. A motion was made to request additional information about this project and that a formal application be submitted. At its scheduled meeting on April 13, 2009, some OSAC members were concerned about preserving only half of the ranch, 514 acres, and this concern led River Ranch, LLC to request a tabling to allow them time to consider applying for a conservation easement and funding request for the entire ranch. On May 11, 2009, a new application was submitted encompassing the entire ranch. v. Criteria Analysis - OSAC Recommendation The following analysis is offered pursuant to Eagle County Resolution 2004-021, Approving and Adopting Open Space Criteria to Prioritize the Selection of Eligible Lands for Open Space: A. Background On November 5, 2002, the voters of Eagle County approved Referendum 1 H, which provided for an increase in taxes to fund an open space acquisition and maintenance program for the County. The ballot provided that open space funds could be used for preserving wildlife habitat, protecting working farms and ranches, conserving scenic landscapes and vistas, protecting wetlands and floodplains, providing public access points to rivers and streams and servicingfuture voter approved debt related to this purpose. Pursuant to this end and in concert with the Referendum 1 H ballot language, six criteria were developed to be used by OSAC to evaluate properties that might be acquired or set aside as open space within the County. For each criterion, qualitative ratings of High, Medium, Low and Not Applicable can be assigned based on the property's known physical characteristics. 3 06/29/09 B. Open Space Criteria A description regarding the attributes of this portion of the Colorado River Ranch considered for a conservation easement follows each of the open space evaluation criteria listed below. I. Scenic Landscapes and Vistas. Preserve and protect Eagle County's outstanding natural beauty and visual quality. Staff Comments: There is significant public visual exposure, specifically from the Colorado River Road, the Colorado River, and the daily Amtrak route. This property has high visual quality, diversity and contributes to the rural sense of place in the Colorado River valley. Prominent ridgelines on the property are visual throughout the valley. Colorado River Road and the rail line are considered secondary travel routes which drops the ranking from High to Medium. OSAC Comments: No additional comments. OSAC Unanimous Recommendation - Scenic Quality Ranking: Medium II. Rel!ional Herital!e. Al!riculture and Ranchinl!. Retain Eagle County's history, culture and agricultural land uses. Staff Comments: The Colorado River Ranch is a historic working ranch. The large size, 1,017 acres, has approximately 600 acres of pasture, irrigated land, and prime soils. This site has significant cultural value due the desire to preserve working ranches in Eagle County. The preservation of the Colorado River Ranch would enhance the rural character and visual quality of the area preserving it for future generations. Senior water rights dating back to 1890 are intended to stay with the land and the water delivery system will be upgraded this summer to a pivot irrigation system. The property is contiguous to other ranch and BLM open space. Non-ranching activities that would diminish values important to open space preservation are not anticipated. OSAC Comments: It was noted that there appears to be no obligation or compulsion in the deal for the property to continue as an operating ranch. One of the conservation values of the property is the appearance of a working ranch, and some OSAC members suggested that the possibility of abandonment of ranch operation be precluded. This concern was not shared by all on the committee however, with others noting that even if the ranching operation ceased the property would still be immensely valuable as open space. OSAC Unanimous Recommendation - Regional Heritage Ranking: High III. Wildlife. Wildlife Habitat and Mil!ration Routes. Set aside areas critical to the long term health and vitality of indigenous wildlife. Staff Comments: The Colorado River Ranch contains significant mapped winter range, severe winter range, winter concentration area and summer range for elk. The property provides winter and severe winter range for mule deer. The property contains critical habitat, breeding and nesting areas for waterfowl and raptors. Bald and golden eagles are common on the property. The ranch is contiguous with other existing or potential open space and public lands of importance to wildlife. The BLM property on the north side of the ranch is actively hunted in the fall and winter. Long term wildlife benefits would not be negatively impacted from potential uses on adjacent or surrounding properties. OSAC Comments: No additional comments. 4 06/29/09 OSAC Unanimous Recommendation - Wildlife Ranking: High IV. Sensitive Lands & Environments. Protect riparian areas, flood plains, and other sensitive, unique or endangered ecosystems or environments. Staff Comments: The 1,017 acres contains significant undisturbed areas designated as riparian or wetland, specifically the Colorado River and the Willow Creek corridors. The Willow Creek area has significant areas of geologic hazards in the form of steep and eroding slopes. According to the information in the application, the property contains ground water re-charge and surface source water areas. Also according to the application, there are native plant materials on site and rare or endangered plant communities that may be found on this property include Herrington's Penstemon and Many-stem Stickleaf. Protection of the Colorado River Ranch would contribute to the long term viability of the larger ecosystem in the Colorado River valley. Once again, this property is contiguous with other existing or potential open space and public lands. OSAC Comments: No additional comments. OSAC Unanimous Recommendation - Sensitive Lands Ranking: High V. Physical and Visual Buffers. Promote community separation and distinction, and provide separation between developed areas and sensitive lands. Staff Comments: Currently, there is limited development on the surrounding properties therefore the need for community separation between developed areas and sensitive lands are not applicable to this proposal. OSAC Comments: No additional comments. OSAC Unanimous Recommendation - Physical and Visual Buffer Ranking: N/A VI. Access to Streams. Rivers. Public Lands and Dispersed Recreation Opportunities. Provide access to public lands, and improve opportunities for high quality dispersed recreation. Staff Comments: As previously proposed an access already exists to the adjacent BLM land but would be enhanced with the two acre parking area and improved access road. The owners anticipate allowing public access to and along the river in the winter for game bird hunting through the Colorado Division of Wildlife Hunter Access program. In this new application, the owners are also providing a two acre parking area and path on the southern portion of the ranch to allow river access. River Ranch, LLC is also providing a one acre parcel for parking adjacent to the Colorado River School for education opportunities. For further explanation on educational opportunities, see Section VI. OSAC Comments: o Better assurance is needed regarding public access points, details of related improvements and the seasonal access provided to the Colorado Division of Wildlife Hunter Access program. Language in the draft Conservation Easement is not sufficiently compelling on the owner. Words like "intends", "considering" and the like should be replaced with well defined commitments and requirements. o The southernmost access point to the Colorado River utilizes a dry wash that is subject to flash flood events. Planning for related access improvements should take this into consideration. 5 06/29/09 o If the public access point under the trestle bridge is not granted by the railroad or is not feasible based on the dry wash area discussed above, an alternative river access point should be provided. o The possibility of additional public space near and along the river at the southernmost public access point should be investigated as well as defined and included in the final conservation easement. A short reach of private lands could connect up with the BLM lands just north of the river access point. Fishing access opportunities for the public on the east side of the Colorado River would include a small portion of the ranch. This should not create any major impacts on the privacy or operations of the ranch. However, the Eagle Valley Land Trust would need to confIrm conservation values of the property would not be diminished, such as impacts to riparian areas, by allowing this fishing access to occur. o Public Access Maintenance Concern: The costs to the County of constructing as well as maintaining public access points and related facilities is an important consideration; the County should look at long term costs and how those are to be funded. While it is preferable to use open space funds for the purchase of properties it is also necessary to recognize that either the general fund, OSAC funds, the property owner or some other source will be necessary to take care of construction of facilities and ongoing maintenance. OSA C Unanimous Recommendation - Access Ranking: Medium * *Staff Comments: The public access is located off a secondary travel route, some distance from a community center and therefore the ranking drops from High to Medium. *OSAC Comments: Some OSAC members believe a major reason for ranking this as a Medium is overall access is limited compared to the amount of ranch going into a conservation easement. B. Additional Project Considerations The following represents those items listed as "Additional Criteria and Considerations" in Eagle County's Open Space Criteria. For the purpose of discussion, the two sections, "Factors Favoring Land Protection" and "Factors Weighing Against Land Protection" have been consolidated into single positive statements that can be evaluated for conformance. At the May 11,2009 OSAC meeting, all 11 Project Considerations were unanimously approved. I. Economv. Discounts, other funding, partnerships, land donation, and/or endowment contribution favorably reduce the County's portion of the purchase cost. Staff Comments: This is a funding partnership with a request from GOCO in the amount of $800,000. At this time, Eagle County is being asked to commit to funding this project in an amount not to exceed $5,750,000 or 72% of the easement appraisal; the land owner is contributing $1,000,000 of the property value. In addition, private monies are being sought to offset the remaining amount. OSAC Comments: The appraisal for the property should be carefully scrutinized for inclusion of questionable data, how the data were used and the impacts of no comparable sales data from December 2007 to the current appraisal date of May 2009. OSAC noted the following in particular: o The paired sales, completed during the period of February 2005 to December 2007, used to adjust the prices of the comparable sales from the date of sale to December 31, 6 06/29/09 2007, include small parcels and a questionable part interest sale of the Colorado River Ranch itself. Small parcels in the 35 to 40 acre range are known, as cited by the Appraiser, to be more costly per acre and to escalate faster than the larger, harder to sell and higher total price point ranches. One comparable sale property, Commonwealth Title/Potter, was adjusted by 57 months of assumed uniform appreciation. o The sale of a 25 percent undivided interest in the ranch to a small investor group took place at a per acre price 34 percent higher than the prior total ranch purchase only approximately five months earlier. The motivation as well as the tax and investment strategy of the purchase group is unknown but may have played a role in the high purchase price now being cited. It must be noted that at the time of that sale, the property was part of a private land exchange for development purposes elsewhere. o The appraiser noted a monthly escalation of 2.97 percent but discounted this value and used 1.5 percent or l8 percent per year. Excluding the small parcels, the questionable sale and acreage weighting the sales, this escalation calculated by the appraiser drops to 1.31 percent per month. In short, OSAC believes the appraisal provides an unlikely current value. o Related to the above concern, the downturn in the economy provides an opportunity to negotiate a lower price. Again, since no comparable sales data is available from January 2008, onward, OSAC believes that the valuation of the ranch indicated by the applicant does not reflect market changes over the last 17 months. o The project is not well leveraged and additional funding partners would lessen the cost to the County. According to the application, the ranch lies in the Keep It Colorado Priority Landscapes Conservation Area of the Upper Colorado River Corridor. There are very few of these areas designated in Colorado and it would seem reasonable that additional funding sources would be available. o Consider requiring the owners to offer the County the right of fIrst refusal should the ranch be put up for sale in the future. o II. Master Plan. Land or development rights acquisition is supported by the intent and purposes of applicable Eagle County Master Plan documents. Staff Comments: The preservation of this property meets the intent of the Eagle County Open Space Plan, which states that the functions of Open Space include the following: Maintain rural atmosphere Protect natural and social resources Maintain visual quality Control development in unsuitable areas Policies within the 2006 Eagle County Comprehensive Plan that also apply to this project include 3.2.2 - Quality of Life, Policy - a. Those attributes that support quality of life options unique to Eagle County today should be preserved for future generations. 3.3.5 - Other Industries, Policy - j. Agricultural land uses should be retained to preserve Eagle County's historical heritage and scenic quality for the benefit of future generations. OSAC Comments: No additional comments. III. Url!encv. Development of the property, to a degree that open space values would he significantly compromised, is imminent. 7 06/29/09 Staff Comments: The River Ranch, LLC originally purchased the property in December 2007 to facilitate a land exchange for property in Gypsum that was intended for development. When the land swap failed, the twelve investment partners were split on the outcome of the Colorado River Ranch. Those partners that wish to develop have given the partners that wish to preserve the property as open space a limited time to sell off the development rights through a conservation easement. Should the conservation easement efforts fail; the partnership will be forced to look at other options, including the immediate sale of the property. Another potential urgency factor is the status of the Colorado Conservation Easement Tax Credit program. Suspending the credit for two years has been contemplated by the State's General Assembly as one way to reduce the budget. The current budget has the Tax Credit program, but discussions about the program will continue through early May. Should the Tax Credit program be removed, the transaction will need to be completed before the new budget begins in July in order to grant the owner a tax credit for the $1,000,000 donation. OSAC Comments: o It might be advantageous to spread the funding over several years. Depending on what other projects might be selected to fund this year or next and whether the County would need to save some money to fund other projects, the Commissioners might prefer to have part of the funding in this year's budget and part in next year's budget. o Countering the applicant's contention of imminent sale/development, the current and foreseeable economic situation, development climate and lending environment have limited the threat of development. Also, current County Land Use Regulations include tools and options such as the conservation development that may apply to any future development application and achieve much of the same outcomes as the proposed conservation easement but at little or no cost. Although, preservation as a heritage working ranch would not be achieved. IV. Uniqueness. The subject property is the only remammg, or one of a very few remaining, opportunities to protect open space of its kind. Staff Comments: The property is the largest remaining private in holding in the Colorado River corridor surrounded by public lands zoned Resource Preservation and private lands zoned Resource. This property is unique in that it is a working ranch, owned by a partnership that wishes to stay and continue the active agricultural uses. The ranch is in excellent condition and is visible from the Colorado River Road, Colorado River and Amtrak routes. OSAC Comments: No additional comments. V. Precedent. The project sets positive precedent for open space preservation values and objectives, and may motivate other landowners to consider preservation alternatives. Staff Comments: This project involves the preservation of a working ranch and it sets a strong positive precedent for conservation easements and open space acquisitions in the Colorado River Road area. The project currently has funding from a variety, but limited number of sources. Holding a conservation easement on this property is creating a foundation for the future of the valley especially if additional partners join the project. OSAC Comments: A careful, fact based and defendable establishment of total value for the ranch and conservation is required to preclude establishing an excessive and non- achievable expectation by other future owners seeking conservation easements. 8 06/29/09 VI. Education. Preservation would provide unique educational opportunities Staff Comments: The old Colorado River Schoolhouse is located on the ranch and the owner is working with the Eagle County Historical Society on a plan to create a museum with this structure to provide public education about the history of the area as well as the school experience nearly a century ago. OSAC Comments: o The eventual ownership of the school house site is unresolved. In the event that the site is deeded over to the local historical society, it has not been demonstrated that this group has the capacity to keep as well as maintain the site; o Details regarding how the school house site would be used and who would be able to use/visit the school house site as well as how tours are conducted, needs to be worked out. Perhaps the county attorneys could create language that would lock in the items above, possibly with the historical society being the designated owner and the County as the owner if the historical society cannot continue operations or some other combination. VII. Support. There is wide-spread community support for the project. Staff Comments: Letters of support for the project are attached to this report. OSAC Comments: No additional comments. VIII. Bb! Picture. The project has potentially significant benefit on a regional or state-wide basis. Staff Comments: The Colorado River Ranch is included in one of the 24 most important conservation landscapes in Colorado as identified by five of the state's leading conservation organizations; the Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Lands, The Conservation Fund, Colorado Open Lands, and Colorado Conservation Trust. OSAC Comments: Given this identification of importance and levels of support, OSAC suggests that other funding partners should participate in this project. IX. Encumbrance. The property is not negatively encumbered by mineral rights, rights- of-way or easements. Staff Comments: The railroad has historically bisected the property and holds an easement to maintain their corridor of operation. The Colorado River Road also runs through the north side of the property. Eagle County has an easement on the property, but the County Engineering Department is requesting the dedication of a formal right-of-way. A letter from the Engineering Department has been attached to this report. OSAC Comments: OSAC supports the pursuit of a ROW for the Colorado River Road as an additional public benefit provided by the Applicant. X. Environmental Hazards. The property is not significantly burdened by environmental hazards (chemicals) or other waste or refuse. Staff Comments: According to the application, the owner is not aware of any current or historic use of hazardous materials on the property. However, a Phase I Environmental Assessment will be conducted on the property in the spring. The owners have applied for certification as an organic ranch to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. 9 06/29/09 OSAC Comments: No additional comments. XI. Maintenance. The long term cost to the County of maintaining and/or monitoring the land is expected to be reasonably low. Staff Comments: It is expected that the holders of the conservation easement, Eagle Valley Land Trust and the County, will defme and include the amount of monitoring cost, in perpetuity, as well as the source of funding into the total project cost and plan. Additionally the draft conservation easement provides that upon any subsequent sale of the property the Grantee, the County and the EVLT, shall receive from the third party purchaser 1 percent of the fair market value of the Property. OSAC Comments: The receipt, management, and use of the above 1 percent fee must be defined. DISCUSSION: Chairman Fisher opened the meeting. Cliff Simonton stated that this meeting was a continuation of a meeting held a week ago to provide additional information regarding the purchase of the property. The funding request before the board was for $5.7 million. He stated that staff had taken some time to review the land use regulations and this property being zoned resource could be subdivided into 35-acre lots, which would allow 29 lots to be developed with unlimited house size and 1800 ADU on each. Mr. Narracci provided a handout that summarized the options available under the conservation subdivision route. This option not only provided an opportunity for creative planning, it provided some additional incentive to property owners because of the potential for density bonuses. Chairman Fisher stated that Commissioner Stavney had an opportunity to review the material from the last meeting and felt that he was up to speed. Commissioner Stavney believed that there was a high level of discourse and that a lot of thought had gone into the proposal. He thought it was useful to imagine the property developed and see the challenges. He believed that any development would increase traffic on the Colorado River Road. Some of the key features and benefits would be damaged by development. In terms of the county's cluster development regulations, there would still be a minimum of 67% of the property in a conservation easement with the rest being developed and event with the conservation easement there would still be 70 acres developed with limited potential. Chairman Fisher asked the applicant to comment. Kara Heide stated that there were many things that brought people to the valley. What attracted her to the Valley was the Colorado River Road. In the early 70s, she worked as the Assistant Director of Anderson Camp. This application was personal to her. She knew the land well and the wildlife was spectacular. She spoke about her memories in the area. She understood that things have changed and she believed that quality of life was paramount. She stated that there were 5 additional funders that were ready to jump on board since the last meeting. John Lichtenegger, landowner, stated that he understood the board's desire for public access. Union Pacific committed to an easement under the trestle to provide for an underpass. They were also able to run the easement to the river. There would also be a DOW hunter access. The landowners agreed to make an additional donation of $250,000. They were also prepared to donate the right-of-way for the Colorado River Road, which amounts to 11.5 acres. In addition to that, they would be glad to give the county any needed construction easements. They would construct a 30-foot roadway from the road to the trestle and from the trestle to the river. They would restore the old school house for public use. After hearing the comments of last week he was convinced that, any development would have a devastating effect on the existing wildlife. He believed the more restrictions the better. They have worked on a plan to try to raise more money privately and publicly. The land trust has reduced the requested amount from the county to $4.75 million. He stated that the county would also be getting the water rights to the property. In addition to that, there are 7 wells on the property. They were working with DOW on wildlife fencing programs. They would be improving the fishery in the Colorado River. Commissioner Stavney thanked Mr. Lichfenegger for working aggressively on the access. He asked if there would be stream bank fishing. Mr. Lichtenegger stated that he had not received permission from his partners but he would be willing to talk about it. lO 06/29/09 Commissioner Stavney asked about the water rights and wondered if the water rights could be severed. Mr. Morris stated that this would need to be nailed down in the conservation easement. Commissioner Stavney spoke about the potable water being available for public use. Mr. Lichtenegger stated that water would be available. Commissioner Stavney thought it was important to memorialize the educational uses. He asked if the Land Trust had a right of ftrst refusal on this property when it went for sale. Mr. Morris stated that Land Trust indicated that they wanted the county to be a co-holder. Mr. Lichtenegger stated that if there was a right of ftrst refusal he was not aware of it. His intent was to own the property for many years to come. Assuming that someone would want to sell it, these restrictions would narrow the opportunities for anyone wanting to sell it. Commissioner Stavney asked about gravel mining. Mr. Lichtenegger stated that that would be prohibited except for the gravel needed for the ranch. Commissioner Stavney asked about cattle crossing the river. Mr. Lichtenegger stated that the fencing along the river would be replaced. Chairman Fisher opened public comment. Barry Townsend, Edwards resident spoke. He was in favor of open space purchases. However, he did not agree with the appraised value of the property. He believed there was something fishy about the appraisal. The property had been on and off the market several times and failed to sale. He believed that the appraisal was high and done among partners. He suggested that the board examine the details and make a wise decision when dealing with tax payers dollars. Lissa Tyler spoke. She believed there was very little open space left along the riverbanks and believed it was critical to set aside property such as this. Todd Linstroth, Edwards resident spoke. He practice law for more than 35 years and was familiar with the area. He had concerns about the process. The public money was great and should serve the public for many years. He believed that the process was moving to quickly. This was not a legacy ranch. He believed that public funds should be used for public benefit and there should be an added level of scrutiny to insure that the county was fulfilling its duty and acting wisely. There should be a fair purchase price. He thought that a careful transparent public process that had public input was needed. New New Wallace spoke. She stated that this ranch had never been offered for conservation. The owner was offering more in terms of public access. She believed it was an honest appraisal. The property was beautiful and provided a great public beneftt. Ron Wolfe, Mayor of Avon, and Vice Chairman of the Open Space Committee spoke. He spoke about the appraisal and believed that any knowledgeable buyer would not buy into the said price of the property. He believed the ranch was worth $9-9.5 million. The beneftts offered by the owners were good and consistent with the use as a working ranch. He shared the opinion that this was something the county should say "no" to at this time and work on getting the price down to where the county's contribution was something in the $3.5 million dollar range. Kip Gates, Burns resident spoke. He spoke on behalf of his family and encouraged the board to preserve the property. Mr. Lichtenegger stated that it was important to know that they used the appraisers that worked on conservation easements. He appreciated the comments made earlier but believed that some of the views were not correct. When this group bought the ranch, it was with the intention of trading it but there was also the possibility that it would never be traded. He had purchased many ranches and this was one of the finest. If the deal goes through and the ranch was reappraised at a higher number, they would still be willing to stay in the game and would be taking the loss as a tax reduction. Larry Benway believed it was remarkable that the new owners were just learning about the property. He believed that the education component was never defined. He cautioned the board not to make a quick decision. Every aspect should be well deftned, well negotiated and allow for more public comment. Mike Bellracchi, Edwards resident spoke. He spoke about the pricing. He believed the price was high and the property was probably worth 20% less than it was worth in 2007 when it sold for $10 million. He agreed with Am Menconi's price point. Linda Jones spoke. She'd been a resident of the valley for over 40 years. She felt strongly that this group of buyers should be commended on their work to preserve the property. Ms. Heide believed that there had been a lot of diligence and they had provided all the information. She believed all the puzzle pieces were there it was just putting them together in a workable manner. 11 06/29/09 Mr. Lichtenegger stated that under the proposed easement the ranch could only be sold as a whole and could not be subdivided. Commissioner Stavney believed that any transaction involves a willing buyer and seller and in the end, an appraisal reflected the meeting point of the two entities. He agreed with what was said that $13 million didn't make sense, and that $lO million made better sense. He was uncomfortable with a conservation easement that was anything more than 60%. He respectfully challenged the owners and the land trust to fmd more funding partners to meet that gap. Commissioner Runyon stated that in past the land trust relied heavily on appraisals. However, the county must be careful and understand what the true value is. The county had a fiduciary responsibility to spend the people's money as well as possible. He agreed that the proposal needed work. Tom Edwards stated that the conservation value ofthe Gate's ranch was 65% and on this ranch, they had determined it to be 60%. Conservation values were usually between 60-70% of the value. Commissioner Runyon stated that he had similar concerns regarding the value of the property. He would like to negotiate the best value for Eagle County. Commissioner Stavney stated that the conservation values of the ranch were indisputable but he encouraged the owner to get more partners because if the property was as great as everyone said it was, those opportunities existed. Ms. Heide reassured the board that there were more partners. Tom Edwards stated that the application had gone through the process and he urged the board pick a number so they had something to shoot for. Chairman Fisher thanked Mr. Lichtenegger for his time and the Land Trust for knocking on doors. She didn't believe that a little more time would hurt anyone. She believed that the appraisal process was very specific. However, the difference was that the property fell under a different context. The market across the board had decreased. She was challenged with the appraisal as it stood. The open space dollars were the first dollars considered before finding other funding partners. She believed that the county open space dollars should be used to fill the gap was better methodology. The ranch was well worth saving but this ranch was purchase by partners to flip for a bunch more money. She understood every effort to preserve the ranch but the price tag was too high. She did not want to pull the plug but at $13,000, an acre it was too much money. Commissioner Runyon requested that the board adjourn into executive session to get legal advice from the county attorney. Commissioner Stavney moved that the Board of County Commissioners go into Executive Session for the purpose of receiving legal advice and to discuss matters that may be subject to negotiations regarding real estate acquisitions, all of which are appropriate topics for discussion pursuant to C.R.S 24-6-402(4)(a). Commissioner Runyon seconded the motion, which passed unanimously. Chairman Fisher stated that the board met in an effort to see what the county could offer and stand behind. She stated that from this board's perspective at this point the ranch would be worth $lO million dollars. The board agreed with put forth $3 million dollars for the purchase of the conservation easement. She asked that the owner use the number as the final point or as the starting point for continued negotiations. Mr. Morris stated that the county had put its position on the table and any negotiations would not be considered at this time. Mr. Montag stated that as Mr. Morris indicated this was a budget decision so a tabling was not needed and the next meeting could be scheduled at any time. Chairman Fisher stated that if the public wished to weigh in, they could do so via email, phone, or written correspondence. Attest: r:L4 Q hk.- Chairman l2 06/29/09