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  • Dylan Anderson

Regulations about golf course setbacks prompt delay in Stagecoach Mountain Ranch development application

Routt County’s Commissioners intend to revisit golf course setbacks in the new Unified Development Code in August.

Developers behind Stagecoach Mountain Ranch likely won’t submit a development application for the exclusive community and private ski resort until September, a delay spurred by a provision in Routt County’s newly approved Unified Development Code that Commissioners intend to change.

The provision is about setbacks required for golf courses and directly impacts the plan for a private golf course along the shores of Stagecoach Reservoir as part of the development. The standards as approved earlier this month require a 500-foot setback, but some public comments argued that much space was excessive.

When County Commissioners approved the code update on June 11, they directed planning staff to come back with updated golf course setback language. Routt County Planning Director Kristy Winser said they are working on that and other changes to the UDC now with a timeline that would put code changes before Commissioners at the end of August.

“This largely impacts [Stagecoach Mountain Ranch’s] golf course specifically,” Winser said, noting that some of the folks who spoke about golf course provisions during public comment are affiliated with the project. “My guess is they are going to wait to resubmit until that is reevaluated and likely reduced.”

Commissioners adopted the county’s new Unified Development Code as written earlier this month, but identified a few changes they wanted to make right away. In addition to the golf course provisions, commissioners also intend to revisit two aspects of the new home size limitation.

Winser said planning staff are looking to put out draft language for changes to the UDC by July 10, after which there are 30 days for the public to comment. A public hearing before the Routt County Planning Commission would likely be on Aug. 15, with the Board of Commissioners considering the changes on Aug. 27.

A development application for Stagecoach Mountain Ranch had been expected shortly after the county adopted the new UDC, but is now expected after the anticipated changes are adopted. Commissioners are scheduled to talk more about the anticipated code changes in a work session on Monday.

Caption: Preliminary plans submitted to the Routt County Planning Department in 2023 as part of an optional planning step show plans for a private, 18-hole golf course at Stagecoach Mountain Ranch. (Routt County Planning Department/Courtesy)


Stagecoach Mountain Ranch is a nearly 6,500-acre community planned around a private ski area and golf course on land that was once the short-lived Stagecoach Ski Area, which closed after its 1974 season. Rumors about a reawakening of the ski area — the runs of which are visible from Steamboat Springs 20 miles to the north — have been rampant in the Yampa Valley for years.

The developer of Stagecoach Mountain Ranch is Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, LLC, the same group that is behind the lavish Yellowstone Club near Big Sky, Montana which boasts residents like Tom Brady and Bill Gates. Homes in the Yellowstone Club have sold for as much as $25 million.

Documents obtained by the Yampa Valley Bugle in a public records request show roughly 90% of the nearly 700 units planned as part of the development will be second homes. Second homeowners are expected to occupy their residence just 25 days a year on average.

Setback requirements are not the only issue being discussed in relation to plans for a golf course at Stagecoach Mountain Ranch. On Monday, commissioners met with representatives from the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, which owns and operates Stagecoach Reservoir.

The Upper Yampa district has provided a letter to Discovery Land Company stating they have the capacity to provide up to 1,000 acre/feet of water for snowmaking and golf course irrigation. The letter is a statement of capacity and not a contract to purchase water — that would come later and would need approval by the Upper Yampa district’s board.

One concern is runoff from a potential golf course and its impact on nutrient-rich Stagecoach Reservoir, which is considered an impaired water by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“If you are going to put something like a golf course adjacent to a reservoir ... we are going to want to know what the effects on the reservoir of that potential development are," said Andy Rossi, general manager of the Upper Yampa District.

Rossi said another thing to consider is the community’s sentiments about using water for snowmaking and golf course irrigation in a part of the county that often sees officials curb water use.

“That is the one place where the river goes under administration,” Rossi said. “Are there any roles for the county or Upper Yampa, which is not a regulatory agency, to chime in and say what they think about those sorts of developments?”

Top Photo Caption: Stagecoach Mountain Ranch includes plans for a private golf course along the shores of Stagecoach Reservoir in addition to a private ski area. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)


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