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Larkspur travel center up for council review

Project would build 12,000-square-foot travel center and three restaurants along I-25


Tim Dumler, a Larkspur-based developer, is going back to his childhood to help him with his next big venture.

At 9 years old, Dumler began working in his father's Skelly gas station — which the family operated in Silverthorne — and held the job all through high school. On top of that, he picked up some skills moving dirt, thanks to his grandfather's excavating business.

Now, a 13-year Perry Park resident and developer, Dumler is using both experiences as he works to open his own convenience center. Specifically, he plans to bring a 12,000-square-foot travel center and three restaurants to the Larkspur area.

In 2015, Dumler met with the Larkspur Town Council to present his idea for a travel center at the intersection of Upper Lake Gulch Road and Spruce Mountain Road north of town. With positive feedback from councilmembers, Plan Development and Regulations Coordinator Sherilyn West said, he moved forward in buying property for the project.

Fast forward to 2017 and Dumler's proposal includes a lengthy list of amenities he says will serve the area well, but the project has been met with some resistance from local residents. Mostly, his opponents say to call the development what it is, a truck stop, and worry it will bring added traffic, light and noise to town.

“To me, that Larkspur area is a jewel," said Thom Rogers, a 24-year Prairie Park East resident. "It's the beginning of real land.”

Dumler owns approximately 5.5 acres on the project site, but is looking to purchase 3.5 acres from the town. The selling price is still to be determined, he and West said. West said a market analysis valued the land at nearly $100,000, but the town has not commissioned an official appraisal.

Rogers, however, is protective of the area's mountain views and nearby open space.

“To defile that with something like a cookie-cutter truck stop," he said, "... it's just insane.”

Although they do not have any jurisdiction over the project, Douglas County open space officials were asked to review and comment on the proposal. Environmental Resources Coordinator Andy Hough said open space staff encouraged the developer to work closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to mitigate the project's impact on nearby wildlife and habitat areas.

The project site overlaps the Riparian Conservation Zone and Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat. It's also situated near a wildlife migration underpass along Interstate 25. The light, noise and human interaction created by the development will leave an impact on the area, Hough said, noting some animal species adapt well to development while others do not.

“This is a very important wildlife corridor to our county,” Hough said. “This is a very high-quality habitat area and a very important movement corridor.”

Despite their concerns, Hough clarified the county had a good working relationship with Larkspur.

“This is not an adversarial situation at all,” he said.

Dumler and West said they are working with county, state and federal agencies to ensure the project complies with their regulations, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We're making sure that the developer does have all the proper permitting and things in place,” West said.

A mitigation plan formed with U.S. Fish and Wildlife will address the project's proximity to Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat and the Riparian Conservation Zone.

“We have been working with Fish and Wildlife for 18 months,” he said. “They have allowed us to move forward.”

As part of the mitigation plan, Dumler said, he has secured 58 acres of preserved land in the Larkspur corridor by asking landowners to allow for deed restrictions prohibiting development on their properties into perpetuity.

"What we preserved is very high-quality habitat," he said.

In response to concerned residents, Dumler also maintains there's a difference between his travel center and a truck stop.

“A travel center is more geared toward the car side of the world,” he said. “It's much more heavily focused on the cars than it is the trucks.”

Of the 32 fueling positions he's planned, he said only four to six would be for semis. Additionally, the project will include charging stations for electric cars and a fueling island for RVs.

The building's exterior aesthetic will also be much different from an average convenience store, Dumler said, suggesting people visualize buildings like Cabela's.

“The whole concept of the place is a very Western look and feel to it,” he said.

The travel center would feature a food court and multiple kiosk vendors and sell Colorado-sourced products. Dumler has also mapped out three standalone restaurants, which he says he can't yet name, on the nearly 9 acres included in his plan.

“There definitely will be a coffee option, high-end coffee,” he said of the restaurants.

The size of those buildings and the amount of parking will depend on which eateries he secures, Dumler said, but the largest restaurant could be approximately 4,500 square feet. In total, he estimated the project will include between 50 and 60 car spaces and 25 spaces for trucks.

Road improvements would include an additional lane on both Spruce Mountain Road and Upper Lake Gulch, Dumler said.

On Sept. 7, the town council will consider subdividing and rezoning 3.5 acres of town-owned land for the project.

“The council has had him at their meetings on several occasions and they've always been favorable for the project,” West said.

The town expects to benefit from sales tax generated by the development and the added services, West said, plus the increased property tax value.

An executive summary for an economic impact study paid for by Dumler and based on a market analysis conducted by Kansas-based SFS Corp.says the town would receive $376,084 in sales tax revenue during the development's first year running and $440,920 from year three and on — plus, create 60 to 80 year-round jobs.

Dumler declined to release the full economic impact study, but said he hopes to have the project completed by the fall of 2018.


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