By Joel Hillan
ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s a proposed thrill ride that neighbors aren’t so thrilled about. A mountain coaster has been approved on land zoned for light density residential use in unincorporated Larimer County.
Biff Baird has lived in Estes Park for 47 years.
“I don’t believe that development of an amusement park on residential land is legal, and I’d like to see the rule of law restored.”
Baird sat on the planning commission when the original zoning code was written.
“The purpose of that was to preserve the open space and rural nature of much of the Estes Valley.”
That open space and rural nature is what drew Graham Russell to retire here seven years ago.
“We look out over the Front Range out of the back there, but we actually have a 360 degree view of beautiful country, some nice homes. And it’s peaceful and quiet and we thought this would be a nice place to retire to.”
“And now?” CBS4 Reporter Joel Hillan asked Russell.
“Now that appears to be potentially compromised,” he responded.
The proposal is to build a mountain coaster on property owned by Cody Walker. His family has been using the land for commercial horse rides since 1959.
In a statement to CBS4 Walker said:
For almost 60 years, my family has provided recreational experiences for both the residents – and visitors – in the Estes Park community. This project represents my family’s desire to continue offering that experience for years to come. The alpine coaster provides a mountain experience, very similar to a horseback ride, with minimal impact to the property and almost zero waste. It will be an enhancement to the existing trail ride operation and seems a natural fit for how my family can continue to serve this community with mountain experiences.
The approval for the coaster was granted by a manager who is overseen by the town council. Cody Walker is Mayor Pro Tem of that council.
“It looks to us that the town staff have come up with an interpretation of the code that is extremely difficult for most clear thinking people to understand,” said Russell.
Neighbors will be appealing the decision to the Larimer County Commissioners on Sept. 5.