Real Estate & Construction  June 27, 2023

‘Yes’ vote in Timnath says ‘no’ to Topgolf

TIMNATH — Topgolf’s drive to locate in this Larimer County community has landed in the rough.

Tuesday night’s resounding vote by Timnath residents in a single-issue, citizen-initiated special election effectively ended plans for a Topgolf golf and entertainment center in the proposed Ladera residential and commercial development southeast of Interstate 25 and Harmony Road.

In unofficial results posted Tuesday night by Timnath Town Clerk Milissa Peters-Garcia, the “yes” votes to block the Topgolf facility totaled 2,321, or 69.3%. “No” votes against the charter amendment totaled 1,026, or 30.7%.

That total of 3,347 votes is more than half of the town’s 6,510 registered voters as of April when the petitions for the election were certified.

Peters-Garcia said Tuesday’s vote totals would be certified within a week.

The resolution amends the town’s home-rule charter to prohibit permanent fences and netting taller than 65 feet. Topgolf’s site plan for conceptual review, provided to Timnath planners by applicant TB Group on behalf of property owner Sheri Welch and Connell LLC, sought a height variance from the town’s 57.5-foot structure-height limits. The concept sketch showed plans for a roughly 38,000-square-foot facility on nearly 12 acres including a 40-foot-high building and netting poles 156 feet high.

Topgolf’s netting is designed to keep driven golf balls from landing outside its property, but a citizens group calling itself “Guide Our Growth, Timnath!” was concerned about several issues, including that the nets would pose a hazard to migrating waterfowl along the nearby Cache la Poudre River, and it successfully petitioned the restriction onto the ballot. Neighbors also said the tall nets would obstruct their views of the mountains and that lights and music the facility would generate would create disturbance into the night. 

“We are pleased that the citizens of Timnath have spoken and have determined that development in the town of Timnath needs to be aligned with our existing Land Use Codes and the adopted 2020 Comprehensive Plan,” Guide Our Growth spokesman Bill Jenkins said on Tuesday night. “The Comprehensive Plan’s goals include a well-planned community with a balance of thoughtful commercial and residential growth that reflects the town’s history and ambiance. While the plan is pro-business, it also emphasizes an integrated system of parks, trails, open space and protected natural areas.”

He added that he thought a voter turnout of more than 50% for a single-issue election is “pretty impressive.”

The text of Ballot Measure 1A read, “Shall the Town of Timnath Home Rule Charter be amended to add a new Section 15.7 prohibiting permanent fences over 65 feet in height, measured vertically from the base of the fence to the top of the fence, including fences comprised of netting or screening materials?”

As a home-rule community, changes to the town charter must receive voter approval via a ballot question. The special election followed Peters-Garcia’s verification of more than 651 signatures that needed to be collected in support of the charter-amendment petition — one-tenth of the total number of registered voters in the town at the time.

A statement emailed Tuesday night from the Ladera developers said that “the goal of Ladera — a 240-acre residential, commercial and mixed-use project planned for southeast of Harmony Road and I-25  — is to complete a quality development which will provide opportunities to live, work, shop and play.

“Timnath voters have spoken at the ballot box and amended the Town of Timnath Home Rule Charter to prohibit permanent fences over 65 feet in height,” the statement said. “The Ladera team will abide by the vote and proceed with developing this unique project. Ladera encourages residents to understand development procedures outlined in the citizen’s role in development review.

“Ladera supports the Town of Timnath’s planning and development process and looks forward to becoming an important partner in the town’s planned growth and future prosperity. The team at Ladera will continue to work to bring a best-in-class development to Timnath. Our belief in this project has not changed.

“Reclaiming the current gravel pit and asphalt batch plant provides an exciting opportunity to attract users that are unique, entertaining, and will serve the community well for years to come,” the statement concluded.

“We are committed to thoughtfully developing this piece of land that has been in our family for many years,” said members of the Connell family, developers of Ladera. “We are also committed to designing a project that is in accordance with the town’s comprehensive plan. We look forward to continuing our discussions with the town and area residents to ensure Timnath is well positioned to control its future.”

Topgolf officials did not return calls and emails Tuesday night seeking comment about whether they would look for another location in Northern Colorado, However, Martin Lind, who heads Windsor-based Water Valley Land Co. and has proposed a large hotel and water-park complex near The Ranch complex, said he originally presented a plan to Topgolf to place its facility on a tract near the Budweiser Events Center. On Tuesday, Lind said the offer still stands.

“We’re super excited with a site we believe is the best around,” Lind said. “There’s no riparian issues, no view-corridor problems, and it’s the highest point along I-25 up here so it would be great marketing for them.

“I hope they stick with Northern Colorado because it’s a tremendously great market.”

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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