Silt to de-annex 1,500 acres after demise of Stillwater Ranch plan

SILT — A town that’s been growing significantly in population is about to undergo a big reduction in physical size.

Sometime this month, Silt will shed nearly 1,500 acres from its jurisdiction. That’s a loss of nearly two-thirds of the 3.7 square miles within the town limits of a community that grew by nearly 50 percent, to 2,545 people, between 2000 and 2007.

The deannexation, a fairly unusual move for a Colorado municipality, is coming as a result of the demise of the Stillwater Ranch development earlier this year. That project was to have included nearly 1,200 homes and two golf courses on undeveloped land on the town’s south side.

The project dated back to the 1990s and suffered numerous delays and financing issues. It came to an end in April when the landowner canceled the contract with the developer.

Silt town manager Betsy Suerth said the town included a deannexation clause in the development agreement for just such a circumstance. The move will eliminate the considerable expense associated with maintaining county roads within the property, Suerth said.

Instead, that responsibility will fall entirely to Garfield County, which must take land back if a municipality decides to deannex.

The county and town agreed in 1996 as to how road maintenance would be handled prior to development beginning. But county manager Ed Green said no one envisioned a decade would pass without anything happening.

The two entities eventually ended up in court over the issue but reached a settlement under which the county agreed to contribute toward road maintenance, Green said.

Suerth said the deannexation has been a first for her and others who have been involved in it.

Sam Mamet, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, agreed such an action is a rarity.

“Now, with the changing economy and its effect on real estate, maybe we’ll see some additional movement in this area,” he said.

Suerth said the town’s board took a pragmatic view toward the need to deannex, but its mood was one of “almost melancholy” in proceeding with that action after having worked so hard over the years to try to help make Stillwater happen.

“After all that investment of time and effort, they would have liked to have seen that process move forward,” she said.

The town is working on updating its comprehensive plan, and it’s up to town residents to say if they’d like to again see annexation and some form of development on the Stillwater property sometime in the future, Suerth said.


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