Local officials are doubling down on the Diamond Ridge property, saying it is not up for sale despite a recent effort by area residents to offer $6.15 million for it.
“There is no plan to sell the site and there has not been a formal discussion surrounding creating a plan to sell,” Town of Telluride Communications Manager Lindsey Mills told the Daily Planet on Jan. 2
A group of local residents made the $6.15 million offer on Dec. 2 to the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County. The two entities are joint owners of the 105-acre site.
In response to the offer, the town and county issued a news release Dec. 20 and explained, “…the San Miguel County Commissioners and the Telluride Town Council met separately in publicly advertised Executive Sessions on this matter and both bodies have determined that it is not fiscally responsible to entertain unsolicited offers for purchase of public property. The County and the Town remain community partners regarding this property.”
The Diamond Ridge property is included in the draft of the San Miguel County East End Master Plan dated Sept. 21, 2023, and described as a low-density residential housing area with the potential for Community Housing zoning.
“The purpose of the Community Housing zone district is to provide for the development of high density, clustered housing for people who live and work within San Miguel County,” the county’s land use code states. A Community Housing zone may allow for 20 units per acre.
A judge previously said the rezoning of the Diamond Ridge parcel constituted illegal “spot zoning” after some local residents sued.
“The Court found that the rezoned area is illegally spot zoned because the same area designated as ‘Low Density Residential Cluster’ (‘LDRC’) under the Telluride Regional Area Master Plan (‘Master Plan’) is now being rezoned for highly clustered affordable housing,” said an April 11, 2023, court order signed by Seventh District Judge J. Steven Patrick.
Residents involved in the court case determining the rezoning was illegal are also saying that the county and town moving forward to update the East End Master Plan to include Community Housing is an attempt to “reverse construct” the Diamond Ridge planning.
Nick Farkouh, one of the residents who put together the $6.15 million offer for the property, has been a party to the litigation and is continuing to try to raise awareness about the town and county’s process regarding the Diamond Ridge planning.
Farkouh told the Daily Planet on Dec. 21 that the East End Master Plan revision process currently underway was “Set up for one purpose in mind: to allow the project at Diamond Ridge to go forward.”
However, Farkouh — who has collected about 450 signatures on a petition — and other residents remain concerned over how county officials “promised” to pay a share for the Diamond Ridge property out of county general fund monies, without first going through a public process at open meetings, and then geared up for a state grant to help with the cost. The grant was awarded, and then canceled, in 2023 several months after the judge’s ruling said the “spot zoning” was illegal.
“The idea is (that) the county and town, in the name of housing, broke the law and gambled with public funds,” Farkouh said.
At the county’s planning commission meeting on Dec. 14, members declined to specify a finalization date for the East End Master Plan and are looking forward to talking more about changes to the plan at the next meeting on Jan. 24.
San Miguel County Planning Commission Member Toby Brown said at the Dec. 14 planning meeting that he would like to see language change in the draft East End Master Plan at the Jan. 24 meeting.
“I don’t feel like this conversation has progressed in the last 30 to 45 days and we’re still talking about the same stuff, but we’re not really making any changes and I’m looking forward to Jan. 24,” Brown said. “I’d like to come out of there with some real understanding of the Community Housing zone.”