ALAMOSA — A proposed RV resort has prompted the City of Alamosa to review its plan for the Alamosa Ranch.
Conducting two public meetings this week to receive input on how the city should manage its ranch, city staff plans to revise the ranch plan and bring it back for further community input on August 29 at 6 p.m. at the Alamosa Family Recreation Center. In the meantime, residents can share comments via the city’s web site, cityofalamosa.org
“This is an opportunity for us to know what the community wants to use the ranch for,” Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks said during the city’s second of two public meetings on Tuesday evening at the rec center.
The city will be sharing ranch plan updates on its web site in the future. City planner Daniel Vaughn will incorporate comments into a revised ranch plan. Following the August 29th public meeting, he will include comments from that meeting in a revised draft plan that will then proceed to the city’s recreation advisory board and ultimately to the city council.
The plan revision process will take a few months, Brooks said.
She explained that during the discussions over the proposed Rio Bravo development on and adjacent to the city ranch property, residents suggested that the city review its ranch management plan. The city-owned ranch, just under 1,300 acres lying near the golf course, the Rio Grande and North River Road, is currently used for recreational activities such as archery and disc golf courses as well as for cattle operations.
Brooks said the city is gathering input from the community on what residents want to see on the ranch property, such as expanded recreational opportunities.
The city council approved earlier this year a land exchange with Rio Bravo developers for an RV resort in a planned unit development, with a portion of Alamosa Ranch property to be traded with developers for property they own in that area.
Brooks said Tuesday night that the Rio Bravo land exchange has not yet been finalized. She said the city council authorized a land swap contingent on the developers providing financial assurances, and the developers have not yet provided that. They are still finalizing their financial partners, Brooks said.
Vaughn mapped out an inventory of the various areas on the ranch such as riparian, pasture and wetlands, designated and subject to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction and otherwise (flood irrigated pastures for example.) He also mapped out various characteristics of the ranch such as trails, soils, groundwater depths and cattle pasture areas.
He said his aim was to be as objective as possible in providing an analysis of the land, not to suggest uses of it but to describe areas that could or could not be developed in the broad sense of the word “development.” Development could occur in the form of trails or buildings, for example, he explained. “Development is something put on the land,” he said. Some areas of the ranch because of the soil types in those areas would not be suitable for any kind of development, he explained.
When asked about water rights on the ranch, Brooks said the city owns ditch water rights that are currently being used in the cattle operation, which is a beneficial use for the city to maintain those rights. She said the city has no interest in doing anything that would harm those water rights. She added the proposed RV resort would be hooking into the city’s existing water and sewer utilities.
She said the ranch water rights are also factored into the city’s augmentation plan.
Brooks said some people have suggested that the city put the ranch under a conservation easement to protect the property against political whims of future elected officials. From a staff perspective, however, the city is concerned about turning the power over that property to another entity, she said.
An alternative, she suggested, would be to ask voters to approve protections and uses for the ranch that could not be changed without further voter approval. That takes it out of the individual hands of seven city councilors, who change over the years, to a broader group of citizens, Brooks said, but still retains city/citizen control over the property.
Caption: From left Bill Madril, Elise Rudolph and Charlotte Ledonne discuss future uses of the Alamosa Ranch during a Tuesday night meeting regarding the plan./Courier photo by Ruth Heide