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The Evergreen Gateway will provide a beautiful entryway for visitors and residents alike, according to the developer of a proposal to put commercial development on Evergreen Parkway across from Walmart.

Some of the 120 residents attending the virtual community meeting on May 19 had many questions as they tried to understand the impact of the proposal for a four-story, 100-room boutique hotel, convenience store/gas station and three to four retail/restaurant buildings.

Jack Buchanan of Evergreen, who is spearheading the effort, wants to rezone the properties from agricultural and commercial to planned development, combining the RTD Park-n-Ride, Foothills Fire, Alpine Rescue and former Observatory Café properties.

It would entail moving both Alpine Rescue and the fire station, which would happen first, and no residential is planned. He also wants to move Rainbow Hill Road to make the intersection with Highway 40 safer.

Attendees asked about building heights, retention ponds, whether another hotel was necessary, why a gas station and convenience store were part of the proposal, wildfire evacuation, connectivity to bike trails, and whether a nonprofit such as a children’s museum could be part of the plan.

Because questions and comments in the chat only could be seen by the developers, it was difficult to determine whether the public reacted positively or negatively to the presentation.

The community meeting is the first step before a developer files a formal rezoning application.

Foothills Fire Chief Alan Anderson is thrilled with the proposal because it would mean a new fire station at no cost to taxpayers, and he told attendees that his department can provide fire service to the proposed development.

Anderson explained that the Rainbow Hill Road and the Lookout Mountain stations need repairs or replacement, and the department doesn’t have enough space for the entire staff to train. He figured a new fire station would cost about $2 million, and it would be up to 10 years before the department could afford the building.

Buchanan and representatives of Oz Architecture explained that while the plans are conceptual, they want the buildings to have a rustic feel.

“It is important to us to recognize how important this site is,” said Rob Rydel with Oz Architecture. “Our overall vision is bound by one look, and we would like to create a gateway into Evergreen. … This will be a community portal to meet whether a small group in the lobby of the hotel or at a pocket park.”

One person was particularly concerned about evacuation in case of a wildfire, reminding everyone that Evergreen is at high risk for a catastrophic event.

Anderson said because of the county’s protocols for evacuations during an emergency, residents that use Swede Gulch Road to access Interstate 70 and those north of the proposed development would be the first to evacuate, so they wouldn’t clog the roads.

In response to a question about Evergreen Metropolitan District providing water and sewer to the site, Buchanan said the district was updating its water master plan to determine whether it can provide the necessary utilities.

In response to questions, the developer’s representatives said a traffic study would be completed as part of the rezoning process in addition to working with CDOT to move Rainbow Hill Road. CDOT would make decisions on whether traffic lights would be installed.