By Sandy Barnes
Simultaneously praising the massive project and voicing concerns about traffic congestion and high-density housing, the Berthoud Board of Trustees approved a preliminary plan for Prairie Star at their Tuesday, Dec. 9 meeting. The 10 year build-out plan includes 968 residential units and commercial development on 190 acres of land at intersection of Hwy. 287 and County Road 17.
An anchor grocery store, retail space and offices totaling 223,360 square feet make up the commercial component of the project, which will be developed as a neo-urban village center. “The heart of the community is the village green with mixed-use Main Street,” said David Blake of Calthorpe Associates, the California firm that designed the project.
During his presentation, Blake stressed the generous open space component of the development plan, which would provide a buffer and areas for recreational parks and trails. According to the plan, 40 percent of the Prairie Star property would be open space—an amount that includes a 25-acre tract for a solar farm to provide renewable energy for the development.
Blake also described tree-lined streets and relatively short blocks to create a pedestrian friendly community and paseos providing green space between homes. Alleys in back of the residences would provide parking space, he added.
Housing options in the Prairie Star plan range from live-work town homes and tuck-under multi-family units surrounding the village center to large estate homes on lots.
Density levels range from 11.7 units per acre for 593 dwellings in Phase 1 to 4.58 units per acre for 254 single-family homes in Phase 2 and 1.38 units per acre for 121 homes planned for Phase 3. Carriage units above garages in Phase 2 of the project are also part of the Prairie Star plan.
While saying he wanted the project to be successful, Mayor Pro Tem David Gregg questioned the scope of the project, which he noted would be half the size that Berthoud is now when completed. He also asked if the collector streets would be adequate to handle the traffic on them.
“My biggest concern has to do with traffic on County Road 17,” said Trustee John Bauer who also supported the project.
Civil engineer Roger Walker, who worked on the road design, said that a roundabout on County Road 17 would provide adequate access for residents living in Prairie Star.
“That roundabout is going to handle thousands of cars,” said Trustee Jeff Hindman. “In terms of development, this project is cutting-edge,” he said.
Before casting the one dissenting vote against the plan, Trustee Michael Patrick asked how the commercial aspect of the project would benefit the Town of Berthoud. He also expressed concerns about the level of density in the development, which he said the addition of carriage units would increase.
Trustee Glen Buckingham said, “This is a really exciting looking development to me…I think that over time, when one million more people move to the Front Range, this area will be an asset.”
In other matters, the Town Board approved a 6.162 mill levy for 2009; a resolution supporting EIS Package A of the proposed Interstate 25 project, which includes light rail; an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Loveland to provide dispatch service for the police department; and an interim agreement with the Berthoud Community Library District to provide funding through March 2009.