Some Livermore residents want Larimer County to pay for a “character plan.” This is why.

By | February 27, 2024

Some Livermore residents are asking Larimer County to fund a “character plan” that would study potential land uses around The Forks Mercantile and Saloon — a store and restaurant at US Highway 287 and County Road 74E — with the intent of creating a community vision for the future.

Commission Chairman John Kefalas and county planners will hold a town meeting Thursday, Feb. 29, at the Livermore Community Hall to get feedback from residents in the rural community. Larimer County has enough money — about $50,000 — for one character study this year. Livermore would compete with several other communities.

A character plan, Kefalas said, is a document intended to provide a framework “for how Livermore wants to see itself in ten years. It is not about approving a specific land use proposal and not about adopting a proposed Livermore Rural Center Plan.”

The Livermore Rural Center plan, created by Bob West, co-owner of The Forks; Cheryl Rennels, owner of a nearby farm; and Zach Thode, manager of Roberts Ranch, shows a desire to create a more reliable water source for the restaurant; Livermore Elementary, which transports water to the school; the church and the fire station.

But water systems are expensive and cannot be created without growth to help pay the costs. That’s the part that has inflamed some residents, who say they have been left out of discussions about the process and fear the rural center plan could lead to the development of the largely rural landscape. Currently, Livermore’s activities are centered around The Forks, a post office, a church, an elementary school, a county-owned open space and a county maintenance facility on County Road 74E.

A sign at The Forks in Livermore on October 16, 2023.

A sign at The Forks in Livermore on October 16, 2023.

The plan suggests some housing, accommodation such as short-term rentals and additional commercial space such as a small supermarket, dental practice and other services that are not currently available.

Thode described the rural center plan as “just a request to initiate a character plan for the rural center.” The intent is to create a public process that sets a framework for what Livermore’s future development could look like, if it ever comes, he said. “All of these things are potential ideas. Nowhere does it say this is a request for development… it just says it’s an idea.”

The new maintenance facility prompted Thode and others to ask the commissioners for a character plan study that would lay out a vision for the future, especially as plans progressed to realign US 287 to accommodate the proposed Glade Reservoir as part of the Northern Integrated Supply Project. Any development plans that emerged after the character plan was adopted would have to adhere to the plan’s vision, said Thode, a water engineer.

With the eventual construction of Glade Reservoir near Colorado Highway 14 and US 287, Ted’s Place will be isolated to serve Highway 14 and Poudre Canyon, according to the plan. “There will be no current service between Laramie, Wyoming and Fort Collins (approximately 66 miles) except The Forks.”

Not all owners of The Forks agree with the development plans.

Longtime Livermore residents Danette and Mike Meyer, who own about 25% of the Forks, said in an email: “We do not believe this development plan should be associated with the Forks because not all owners supports. While we appreciate the need to create a sustainable water source in the Valley, we do not support significant development of the Livermore Valley to achieve these goals. We do support a community-led character study where all community members have a say in how and, most importantly, whether they want to see Livermore grow.”

Wells were contaminated by a diesel spill on county properties in the 1970s, which has caused water problems ever since. As a result of a lawsuit, the county funded the Livermore Water Association, which developed a new water system for five properties from a shallow well and an underground holding tank. Water is sent to users via a filter system. “The water source is a bit unreliable and extremely expensive for water users,” Thode said.

“The fire station, school and church have substandard water supplies,” the trio wrote in the rural center plan submitted to the province.

Under the rural center plan, it is unlikely that any land use change will be possible without a new water source. Several people within the Livermore Water Association have explored possible water alternatives due to the higher cost of the existing system and may have a future source, the plan document said.

There is a more reliable water source, Kefalas said. “To drill that water and move it to the community village would require more development.” However, the meeting will not discuss water issues. “The purpose of the meeting is to explain to a larger audience what the county’s role is and an opportunity to develop a character plan. The character area plan creates a framework of what people want to see in the wider area in five to ten years. with the realignment of 287, public safety issues on 287, etc.”

Three members of the University of Wyoming swim team were killed last week in a crash seven miles north of Livermore, near where three UW students died in a 2021 crash.

In November, the Coloradoan reported that the 30-mile stretch of Colorado Highway 14 to the Wyoming state line had seen 15 fatalities in the past 11 years, including three in 2023.

Creating an area plan “has been an issue since I’ve been commissioner,” Kefalas said. “We want to support future planning and sustainability efforts, but for many reasons we have not had the capacity or resources to do that.” While other communities will compete for funding, Kefalas said he believes “Livermore is a higher priority.”

Do you want to go?

The meeting with Commissioner John Kefalas and county planners will take place on Thursday, February 29 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM at the Livermore Community Hall, 2044 W. County Road 74E, Livermore.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Larimer County plans meeting on Livermore’s potential future

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