Opponents form nonprofit to fight the plan, concerned about traffic, wildlife
by Deb Hurley Brobst
October 20, 2021
A battle is brewing as residents along Shadow Mountain Drive prepare to officially oppose a plan to put a free-ride mountain bike park on the road two miles from Highway 73.
Known as Full Send Bike Ranch, the proposal has caused neighbors to create a nonprofit called Stop Full Send Bike Ranch to work to stop the bike park that wants to locate on 250 acres of land owned by the State Land Board. They are most concerned about traffic, the additional workload for emergency medical services, wildlife that migrate through the area and more.
Yet, Jason Evans and Phil Bouchard, who are spearheading the project, believe the bike park would be an amenity to the Conifer area by bringing more people to local businesses and providing additional trails for mountain bikers. Residents whose concerns are valid, they said, won’t be as negatively impacted by the park as they think.
They say they are trying to mitigate impacts and work with neighbors, so Full Send would be a win-win for everyone.
“There’s one version of the park from people who oppose it, and we believe there’s another side to the story,” Bouchard said. “There is vocal opposition, but there is also vocal support in the Conifer area and frankly in the Shadow Mountain area.”
Evans and Bouchard propose a day-use bike park with a chairlift, the only one of its kind in Colorado. It would be open generally from April to October, with a lodge that would provide a registration area, bike rentals, same-day bike repairs and a bar/lounge.
Raena Chatwin and Barbara Moss Murphy, the Shadow Mountain residents leading the Stop Full Send Bike Park nonprofit, said they created the nonprofit so the opposition would be a grassroots effort.
“We know this area,” Murphy said. “If (that land) is going to be developed, we want it developed with awareness, not jeopardizing safety and the environment.”
Because the property is owned by the state and Evans and Bouchard want to lease it, they aren’t required to go through the county’s rezoning process. Instead, they will ask Jefferson County for a special use permit on the property zoned agriculture through the location and extent process.
That means Full Send will have a public hearing before the Jeffco Planning Commission, which makes a decision on the proposal rather than the county commissioners.
According to Kristin Kemp, spokeswoman for the State Land Board, If the board receives an application, it will go through the board’s standard review process, which includes staff review, a public comment period and inclusion on an agenda at a public meeting at which the commissioners will vote on the matter.
Unlike other state agencies, the Colorado Constitution requires the State Land Board to comply with valid local land-use regulations and land-use plans.
The location and extent process requires Full Send to submit a complete application to Jeffco, though Jeffco can call it incomplete until it gets all of the information it needs, according to Russ Clark with Jeffco Planning & Zoning. Once the county has accepted the application, it has 30 days for the Planning Commission to make a decision.
Bouchard said Jeffco is requiring a study of traffic on Shadow Mountain, Highway 73, Barkley Road and U.S. 285 since the bike ranch’s impact on traffic is a huge concern for the Stop Full Send group.
He said while it may appear that the location and extent process is shorter, it isn’t. It just means he must do all of the work up front, whereas in a rezoning request, the application is submitted and then the additional reports are filed.
Bouchard said he hopes to file the application in late December or early January.
The Stop Full Send group says it doesn’t make sense to put the bike ranch in the middle of a residential area on a two-lane road that isn’t equipped to handle the high traffic volume.
“This is not a safe road now,” Murphy said, noting that accidents are prevalent on the winding road because of blind spots and no shoulders.
“If you add a destination location and the number of cars they’re looking at, plus the amount of traffic going from Flying J to Maxwell Falls, safety is a huge issue,” Chatwin said. “We are not against a bike ranch. It makes sense to have it in Colorado, but to put it on a two-lane road that doesn’t have adequate space for a commercial enterprise doesn’t make sense.”
The Full Send developers have said they expect as many as 700 daily visitors to the park, especially on weekends, but they note that doesn’t necessarily mean 700 cars on Shadow Mountain Drive. Bouchard said they would encourage carpooling to mitigate traffic, and initial plans call for a 300-space parking lot.
He said he didn’t want to speak further about traffic issues until he has the results of the traffic study.
“Ultimately Jeffco maintains Shadow Mountain Road,” he said. “We’re happy to take a look at intersections that may be most impacted and see what we can do there.”
Injuries and responses
The majority of injuries at the park will be handled by an onsite EMT team, with the goal of not adding strain on Elk Creek EMS, according to the Full Send website.
“We will have a formal plan for emergency medical response with Elk Creek Fire to efficiently respond if needed, and the park will be designed to minimize hike-in incidences,” the website says.
The Stop Full Send group is concerned that Elk Creek Fire’s emergency responders will be stretched too thin responding to calls if the bike ranch is built, and with long ambulance drive times to hospitals and urgent care down the hill, EMS services won’t be available for residents in case of an emergency.
Full Send is discussing migration paths in the area with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which will aid in designing the bike park to minimize the impact to wildlife on the property, the Full Send website said.
“Most of our infrastructure is being proposed on a portion of the property that is already fenced off to large game,” the website noted.
The Stop Full Send group is worried about migratory paths of elk and other wildlife, noting that hundreds of bikes and cars on the property will disturb their quiet habitat.
“All of the wildlife will be displaced,” Chatwin said. “The wildlife will be scared off by the cars. Where will the elk go to give birth? There’s nothing they can do to mitigate these issues.”
Other issues, comments
Full Send says providing the mountain bike park will consolidate riders onto biking-only trails, which will reduce riders in nearby parks, making trails safer for hikers, and it believes a bike park would not be as impactful as other possible development such as homes or apartments.
In addition, Bouchard said, the park could provide 250-plus acres of wildfire-mitigated area that would be an asset in case of wildfire.
He say Full Send is listening to the neighbors.
“We have been really ears-open to what the community has to say,” Bouchard said. “It’s something we are taking very seriously.”
The Stop Full Send group believes its voice needs to be heard by the county and by the State Land Board. Ultimately, it would like to see the property donated to the Mountain Area Land Trust to be preserved.
“The facts need to be considered,” Chatwin said. “We’ve done our research, and we’re prepared to provide the facts.”
Murphy added: “Our group is not about NIMBY (not in my backyard). Our organization is about community safety and the environment.”