SOUTH FORK— The South Fork Planning and Zoning Commission filled the Carnegie Library meeting room on Jan. 16 to talk about revenue-generating ideas from the community. The discussion sounded more substantial than many economic development meetings as residents presented new ideas and sparked others.
No decisions were made, but the action items were decidedly pro-development and pro-South Fork for board members and citizens alike. Of the two biggest topics, one proposal would leverage town-owned land for civic and economic development. The other proposal is a private business venture for public good.
Residents from the Willow Park subdivision heard ideas about town property development between their access road off Highway 160 and the turn where Four Seasons Drive meets the confusingly-named Del Norte Peak Road, a dirt track that loops through a field partially wired for electrical activity.
The town of South Fork owns the 10-acre plot. Squeezed between the highway, South Fork Heights and Willow Park property boundaries, the location includes rare views of Del Norte Peak from river level below the fork.
For the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, talk centered around moving the Logger Days celebration to the site with the idea of grooming the area for future festive events. Running the meeting, Keith Helmstetler praised characteristics of the site while asking if anyone on the board or in the audience had a better site in mind. Ideas emerged, but none rivaled the proposed spot next to the busiest highway running through town.
For Highway 160 communities like South Fork, many ambitious projects eventually require frank discussions with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Throughput is paramount for highway controllers, which forces planners to consider motorists turning from both directions in a zone already complicated by a 15-mph speed limit shift.
Helmstetler narrated a few questions off the top of his head to visualize traffic flow and density, prerequisite homework before any CDOT discussion. When questions begat questions, the real work has begun. Answers and further inquiries will follow soon, targeting a move before the 27th annual edition of Logger Days this summer. Considering the width of the turns and traffic patterns for people and cars, CDOT will need to see numbers before approving changes to accommodate the proposed use.
Of course, CDOT has not prevented previous Logger Days celebrations from forcing people to walk across Highway 149. Consolidating festivities at one site would improve safety while offering a blank slate for events with minimal impact on the area itself.
“We don’t plan to have buildings,” explained Kris Steffens on behalf of Logger Days organizers.
Four times larger than the current location by the South Fork Community Center, the area has no overhead lines, which opens up opportunities. Steffens and others confirmed targeting the 2019 Logger Days celebration, “but we’ll stay if we have to,” Steffens said. “This is a heritage event, and we need to use it to our advantage for our town.”
Before diving into Logger Days details, members conducted a preliminary review of a conditional use permit application. Town Administrator Dan Hicks introduced Dan and Melissa Jones. Melissa soberly started by admitting she had an addiction, an unstoppable passion to refurbish vintage trailers. The couple will complete their move to South Fork in May, and they wanted to get feedback on their plan before investing more money and initiating the conditional use process.
Melissa showed poster-sized photographs of her renovations, each of them with names like Crush and a 1948 sports tour named Pendleton.
“Dan has a business plan in order to satisfy my addiction,” Melissa explained. Speaking for the camping community, Melissa said, “We love camping and we love sharing, but we don’t love sharing a bathroom.”
Melissa knows that “glamping” isn’t for everyone, “but guys won’t mind if they’re by the river.”
Each camper site will have a private bath and fire pit and covering, ultimately offering WiFi and BBQ for each unit too.
In addition to cautioning the Jones couple about riparian concerns when removing willows, members addressed other details for the commercial property. The process of requesting a conditional use permit and holding a public hearing entails contacting all adjacent property owners too, according to Hicks.
The next steps for Dan and Melissa Jones, the Logger Days committee and the town of South Fork will include more research and number-crunching to fully develop these ideas.