County staff and commissioners were updated on the proposed Genesee development at Society Turn. (Photo by Sophie Stuber/Telluride Daily Planet)

On Wednesday, the San Miguel County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) meeting included an update on the Genesee Properties Master Plan. Planning Director Kaye Simonson described the proposed development of a 20-acre parcel near the Society Turn roundabout.

Fourteen of the 20 acres are developable, while the remaining six acres are classified as “sensitive” areas that include wetlands, river, and slope terrain. Of the acreage that is appropriate for development, 2.6 acres will be allotted to build a new regional medical center on the west end of the parcel. The Town of Telluride will also receive land on the parcel to upgrade the town’s wastewater treatment center.

The remaining land will be divided between new affordable housing units and commercial use areas — described in the Master Plan as “flex space,” which would include lodging, retail and office spaces. During the meeting, Simonson explained that the flex space could include new breweries and distilleries, laundry and dry cleaning businesses, studios for artists and artisans, and offices for plumbers, welders, and other enterprises. The development will be built gradually.

As of today, the Master Plan does not specify percentage or square footage requirements for the distribution of the rest of the acreage of the parcel — aside from the 2.6 acres given to the medical center. According to Simonson, an estimated 40 percent of the parcel will be dedicated to commercial space, another 40 percent will be for lodging, and 20 percent will be devoted to new employee housing. A future PUD will address the amount and location of each type of service and infrastructure.

The current amendment accounts for the construction of 87 affordable housing units. Unlike the Town of Telluride, San Miguel County assigns employee housing spaces based on units rather than bedrooms, Simonson noted. The amendment also provides opportunities to build additional affordable housing units in the future, as long as they are in compliance with the parcel’s space usage restrictions, Simonson added.

The proposed amendment relies on information generated by a study by Economic & Planning Systems Inc. (EPS), which analyzed gaps in Telluride’s community spaces and resources and projected how to respond to future growth.

A new and expanded regional medical center is a top priority. According to the EPS report, with more employees, the med center would also provide increased business for retail and restaurants. Due to the medical center’s classification as a Title 32 Special District under the state statute, some of the development procedures are different than normal for the San Miguel County.

“It is somewhat exempt from certain regulations,” Simonson explained during the meeting.

Simonson added that there would be continued dialogue between the planning committee and the developers of the medical center despite the exemptions. The med center will be required to provide employee housing for workers.

If constructed, the Genesee Properties development could generate significant traffic. Local business owners and nearby homeowner associations expressed concerns about regulating traffic flows. Access to the property would be off Highway 145 North. According to Simonson, the goal is to limit incoming traffic from the east because of the roundabout.  

In a previous public hearing, Doug Tueller, on behalf of the Last Dollar Subdivision Homeowners Association, noted that the traffic could become severe and that the development is “very dense.” At today’s meeting, Simonson read from the Last Dollar HOA comment, which requested “specific detail and language” in the Master Plan to outline the development.

Another concern is the proposed commercial space’s impact on existing businesses. County Commissioner Kris Holstrom noted, “Many of the uses [of the Genesee parcel] are in direct competition with current businesses.”

Simonson acknowledged Holstrom’s concern and added that the businesses could be competitors or could fill in an existing gap in the community. It is too early to determine which scenario is more accurate. 

The homeowners association of Lawson Hill requested “equity” from the Genesee Properties development, though Simonson noted that the planning board was still trying to clarify what that entails exactly.

The BOCC also discussed the impact of the new development on open spaces, the environment and local wildlife. Outdoor enthusiasts will be able to continue to use the Remine Creek Trail. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) notes that the elk population has increased in the area, which should be a factor in the parcel’s developmental plans.

There are also concerns about the visual impact of the Genesee Properties development that still need to be addressed at a future date, Simonson added.

Though Wednesday’s meeting room was fairly empty, previous public hearings were widely attended by community members.

The BOCC will conduct a walking tour of the parcel early this fall. Prior to that, the planning discussion will continue July 31.