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The Evergreen Metropolitan District is continuing to update its water master plan to determine whether it can provide water to a proposed development in El Rancho.

The EMD board met March 24 to discuss the proposal to put a hotel, retail and restaurants on the RTD Park-n-Ride, Foothills Fire, Alpine Rescue and former Observatory Café properties.

The water master plan will help EMD decide whether it can provide water for the development without impacting nearby water users, according to EMD General Manager Dave Lighthart.

The development proposal, which includes rezoning part of the property from agricultural to commercial, must be approved by the Jeffco commissioners. The county asks for other government agencies to weigh in on whether a proposed development is feasible.

If the water master plan determines that improvements are needed to the water system to accommodate the development, the developer can decide whether it wants to help pay for the improvements, Lighthart said. The EMD board has imposed a moratorium on new water taps in the El Rancho area until it updates the plan, which should take about six months.

Foothills Fire Chief Alan Anderson said he was excited about the proposed development because the developers — a group of Evergreen residents led by Jack Buchanan with Northstar Ventures — are willing to build Foothills a new fire station on the west end of the property.

“I need to rebuild the station in the next few years, which would be a great burden on our taxpayers,” Anderson said. “(Having Northstar build a new station) would save our taxpayers up to a million dollars. Another reason why we support this development is because it would add a significant commercial tax base to our (fire) district. (The property taxes paid to the fire district) would allow for better fire service in our community.”

Northstar has had its pre-application meeting with Jeffco Planning & Zoning to show conceptual plans, and the planner assigned to the case has said the proposed development was complicated because so many entities are involved.

Northstar also is talking with the Alpine Rescue Team about relocating its building, with RTD about putting a Park-n-Ride within the development and with CDOT about reconfiguring Rainbow Hill Road, so it intersects with Highway 40 closer to the entrance to El Rancho Brewery.

Buchanan hopes to have the necessary documents to Jeffco soon, so a community meeting can be scheduled. The community meeting is the next step toward requesting a rezoning from the Jeffco Planning Commission and commissioners.

The proposal

Buchanan said the plan was still a work in progress, but at its core was a 100-room hotel, saying that the development would create a gateway to Evergreen.

“We want to have nice architecture that enhances the entry to Evergreen,” Buchanan said. “This is a corner that merits putting something that looks better there. We think this is a win-win for Evergreen.”

Buchanan said if the county and other entities approve the plans, moving the fire station and Alpine Rescue would happen first, estimating that hotel construction would take place in 18 months.

He said the developers were interested in making the commercial uses energy efficient.

“We are enthusiastic about creating a lower demand on the water and sewer system,” Buchanan said. “We are not going to strip down the site. We want to keep the vegetation and work with the land. This will be environmentally above and beyond what most people would expect.”