Big fine latest problem for GarCo project

The former owner of Garfield County land now proposed for a 1,006-home development has yet to pay a $187,729 fine the state imposed this summer for stormwater violations.

“This is on its way to collections,” said Mark Salley, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

However, it’s unclear whether the company is in a position to be able to pay the fine. Bair Chase Property Co. lost the 280-acre property, off Colorado Highway 82 south of Glenwood Springs, through foreclosure in late 2006. The land was taken over after an auction in which the only bidder was the mortgage holder,
PlainsCapital Bank, which had lent Bair Chase money after it filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

The bank bid less than $17 million for two mortgages, but Bair Chase had incurred $24 million in debt associated with the property.

The land later was purchased for $18.5 million by Related WestPac, which recently submitted a formal proposal to Garfield County for its housing development.

Bair Chase did extensive earthmoving in 2005 in anticipation of building a golf course and residential development. The state issued a notice of violation after an inspection in 2006.

The inspector found problems such as perimeter fencing for silt control that had mostly fallen over and gaps between hay bales designed to control runoff. The deficiencies left Cattle Creek and the Roaring Fork River vulnerable to sedimentation and other problems from runoff.

The state also determined Bair Chase failed to regularly inspect its stormwater-management system or to transfer its stormwater-discharge permit to PlainsCapital.

Bair Chase, which has a San Antonio address, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Salley said Related WestPac bears no responsibility for Bair Chase’s actions or fine.

Fred Jarman, Garfield County’s building and planning director, said Bair Chase “completely denuded the site” but that Related WestPac has improved it for stormwater drainage.

“They’ve really been good stewards of that property,” Jarman said.

Rocky Shepard of Related WestPac said the company has spent more than $200,000 on such efforts.


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