By Sandy Barnes
More than 300 acres of farmland along County Road 17 could be transformed into a major employment site for Berthoud residents, if present development plans move forward. The Town Board will have a key role in the Ludlow Farms project by taking action on annexation and rezoning and an overall development plan. Trustees will also negotiate with the developer on requested incentives, which include a sales tax credits and reimbursements for over-sizing utility lines.
Board members took an official step in what could be a lengthy process at the Tuesday, Aug. 11 board meeting by agreeing to meet with the developer and his representatives during the next few weeks while continuing a public hearing to Sept. 22.
“I think this is a project that has the potential to be an asset to the community,” said Trustee Michael Patrick. While cautioning that fast tracking the project needs to be done with attention to detail, Patrick said he believed the Town has the capability of reaching a balanced partnership with the developer.
During his presentation, Town Planner Tim Katers said the planning and zoning commission did approve an amendment to the land use code to permit high density/mixed use on the property and recommended approval of annexation, rezoning to from agricultural use to planned unit development and the development plan for it.
“We think this project is great for the town,” said landscape architect Jim Birdsall while speaking in behalf of the developer. “The premise of this project is to attract a primary employer (or employers) to the Town of Berthoud.”
Birdsall said that a unique agreement between the Town and the developer is being proposed, which allows the property to be marketed by site solicitors. The 32-page development agreement presented for consideration contains a request for the Town to establish an enterprise zone from the state Office of Economic Development and provide development incentives that include undetermined water and sewer tap fee reductions and water and sewer rate reductions. The developer is also seeking approval of a conveyance plat that would allow parcels in the property to be sold in an expedited manner.
While describing the project and potential uses, Birdsall said no industries with smoke stacks or unscreened storage units would be allowed and a 100-foot landscape buffer would be required along County Road 17 if commercial development occurred in that area.
Along with extensive industrial and commercial development, the Ludlow Farms plan does include a residential component on three parcels bordering County Road 17. However, the two parcels totaling 84 acres located above Dry Creek also could be used for commercial development.
In his remarks, property owner Greg Ludlow said his family has owned the land since 1933 and is committed to building something of which it can be proud and that would make a positive contribution to the Town. According to a fiscal impact analysis presented, the project would create an annual Town surplus of $1.4 million at build-out, which would include 795 residential units and 1.2 million square feet of commercial development.