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The town has not yet considered a site development plan, nor has it officially considered selling property to a local developer, but earnest Larkspur area residents still turned out to a packed town council meeting on Sept. 7 to weigh in a on a commercial development proposed north of town.Developer Tim Dumler, a Perry Park resident, plans to open a 12,000-square-foot travel center and three restaurants at the intersection of Upper Lake Gulch Road and Spruce Mountain Road north of Larkspur.The exact restaurants haven't been announced, but Dumler says the travel center will offer 32 fueling stations, including four to six for semis and the remaining for cars, an RV island, electric car charging stations, a food court and a retailer of Colorado-sourced products.Dumler owns nearly 6 acres on the proposed 9-acre development site and will ask the town to sell him an additional 3.5 acres of town-owned property to complete his project. On Sept. 7, council considered and approved rezoning the land to make way for any discussions surrounding a sale of town property for the project.All seats were filled in council's chamber, residents listened through the town hall's front door and more strained their ears while peering through open windows as public comment unfolded.On one side are locals who oppose the development, or some who simply oppose selling Dumler the town's land to expand the project site. Their concerns are many but largely center around traffic and the loss of open space.Dumler's land overlaps the Riparian Conservation Zone and Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat. Douoglas County officials, although they do not have jurisdiction over the project, were invited to comment on the proposal. They have stressed the importance of open space on the project site and in surrounding areas, and say the development activity could adversely affect nearby wildlife.It's up to the developer to mitigate those impacts, county officials said, which Dumler says he's been doing while working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to form an official mitigation plan. Fish and Wildlife Service officials declined to comment on the project while in active consultation with the developer.Kris Somers, who lives in Perry Park East, said she moved to the Larkspur area for its quiet lifestyle and those open spaces. A truck stop, she said, won't fit in with its surroundings. She also fears the county roads — Upper Lake Gulch Road and Spruce Mountain Roach — won't support the traffic a travel center might bring.“The exits from the highway are not built for 18-wheelers,” she said.On the other side of the issue are residents who see the merit, and payoff, in letting the development move forward.According to an executive summary from an economic study commissioned by Dumler, the town would receive $376,084 in sales tax revenue during the development's first year of operation and $440,920 annually from year three onward.Dumler has declined to release the full report, raising eyebrows among the project's opponents.Regardless, supporters say revenue generated by the potential development is much needed by the town. For some, it's a comfort that the developer is local, and not a corporate chain looking to move in.One such supporter was Eric Smidt, who moved to the Larkspur area 20 years ago with his family in search of a small community where he could raise his children.Smidt believes projects like the travel center would bring sustainable businesses to the area and help support Larkspur in providing more town amenities.“I look at it as a revenue generator,” he said Sept. 7.Smidt and other supporters were also proponents for the added convenience of a nearby travel center and the additional jobs it would create, particularly for the youth in the area.“One thing that I was looking for when I moved out here,” Smidt said, “I was looking for these amenities to kind of happen over the years.”
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