Wednesday, May 31, 2006

HURRAY!: In an effort to keep up with other ski areas around the nation, Durango Mountain Resort has announced a $35 million project to construct a 130,000 square foot lodge at the base area. La Plata County commissioners unanimously approved plans for the six-story structure to be built on the southern side of the existing main mall plaza. Plans for the lodge and surrounding area include retail space, a restaurant, a day spa & salon, fitness center, pool and hot tubs, an outside bar, a stage and 37 in-lodge condominium units. The restaurant will replace Purgy's, a popular base-area bar and restaurant. Under the approved plan the resort will update the plaza itself, doubling it in width.

To be demolished: the current lift ticket office, the administration building and maintenance buildings in the existing plaza. In addition, the level of the existing skier drop off area will be raised up to meet the new plaza. The existing Purgy's won't be razed until the new building is complete, an estimated two years from this fall.

The project is part of the resort's 25 year plan initiated in 2004. In total, DMR plans to build 1,649 living units and 400,000 square feet of commercial space in six villages along both sides of U.S. Highway 550.

Skier services will not be disrupted during construction according to DMR's CEO Gary Derck. Derck said public feedback, including reactions to the future of Purgy's, has been positive. "It's been what our locals have asked for since we got here," Derck said. "All in all," he said, "I think people want to see it come up to snuff with other ski facilities."

Gary, as locals, we agree and are excited about the future of our ski area. Just one thing, is it ok for us old timers to still call it "Purgatory?"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

CRIME: It's hard not to laugh when out-of-town buyers ask, "Does Durango have a crime problem?" They obviously are from the "big city." The Durango Police Department released their arrest totals for 2004. Take a look:

1 arrest for Manslaughter by negligence (auto wreck)

2 arrests for Rape

6 arrests for Motor-vehicle theft

54 arrests for Fraud

85 arrests for Vandalism

86 arrests for Drug violations

445 arrests for DUI

In our opinion Durango is about as close to "Mayberry" as you can get. Our biggest problem is that some of our citizens believe that stopping at a red light is optional.

Monday, May 22, 2006

INDIAN LANDS: The reservations of the Ute Mountain Indian Tribe and the Southern Ute Indian tribe, both sovereign nations, are partially located within the boundaries of La Plata County. The Southern Ute Reservations is a checkerboard reservation, which means that there are pockets of private land interspersed among tribal owned property within the exterior boundaries of the reservation. One question we are often asked is "How can there be privately owned land within the Indian reservation?" Well, in 1895 Congress passed the Hunter Act which gave the Indian the right to homestead 160 acres of land, improve the land and eventually gain vested title. Many of the Southern Utes took advantage of this opportunity. Once vested in title they were free to sell, lease or otherwise convey the land as they chose. As time passed, ownership of these homesteads changed, parcels were sold off and today we have many non-indians living within the boundaries of the Southern Ute Reservation. An interesting note is, while many Southern Utes elected to "homestead" the land, the Mountain Ute Indian Tribe preferred to continue their communal lifestyle and moved their tribal headquarters to Towac west of Cortez.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is one of the largest employers in La Plata County and a vital contributor to our economy and community. Tribal headquarters are in Ignacio. For more information concerning tribal lands, contact the Southern Ute Indian Tribe at (970) 563-0100. Or, if you prefer, give us a call or email. We'll get the information you need and get back to you.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

PROPERTY & LAND USE PLANNING: There are many issues that may affect the use and enjoyment of a homeowner's property. It is important to research these items and local land use regulations before purchasing land. As required by Colorado state law, La Plata County has regulations regarding subdivision of land titled "The La Plata County Land Use Code" (LPLUC). The regulations, along with district land use plans, help landowners and the county guide growth in a way that reflects the community's vision of the future. Assistance and information regarding these regulations and district plans may be obtained from the La Plata County Planning Department at (970) 382-6263.

Not all parcels are suitable for building, development and/or subdivision. Geographic features such as steep and unstable slopes may limit the development potential of the land. It is important to check with the County Planning Department and Building Departments to determine a parcel's land use classification and whether the parcel may, in fact, be developed.

Many of our subdivisions have covenants that contain certain requirements, and some have a homeowners' association. Before purchasing a property, determine if it has a homeowner's association and learn about its activities and role. As of January 1, 2006 Colorado law requires the seller of a propery governed by a homeowner's association to furnish a buyer with certain documentation that includes the association covenants, by-laws, rules & regulations, financial statements, minutes of the last annual meeting, and minutes of the previous board meetings.

When you purchase a property, you may be provided with a plat or map, but unless the land has been surveyed and pins placed by a licensed surveyor, please do not assume that the plat is accurate. Have the seller either locate the pins or have pins set by a surveyor. Copies of recorded subdivision plats are available at the La Plata County Clerk and Recorders Office. Some plats have special restrictions or requirements that should be studied and understood. For expample, they may include details such as where a home may be placed on the property, size and type of outbuildings, fences and other important information.

As you can see, the purchase or sale of real property can be an involved process with many facets to consider. Mary & I are here to help. Give us a call or email if we can be of assistance. /

Sunday, May 14, 2006

BUILDING AND LOCATION: La Plata County has building codes and fire codes outlining the necessary design and construction of structures, and building permits are required for all new construction. Contact the La Plata County Building Department at (970) 382-6250 for information about building permits and inspections.

When considering the design of your "dream home," certain architectural styles may be more desirable than others due to climate, regional conditions and/or visual compatibility with your surroundings. Selecting an unobtrusive location for a building site, house colors that blend into the environment and downcast exterior lighting help minimize the visual intrusion of population upon the natural beauty of the land. Because much of la Plata County is mountainous, certain natural geologic hazards exist. Remember to consider geologic hazards in the design and siting of your home. We encourage you to contact the Building Department to learn more about geologic hazards in La Plata County.

Low-sloped roofs may require shoveling in heavy snow years. Steep-sloped metal roofs shed snow well and are desirable in snow country. Avoid roof designs that deposit snow onto decks, entry ways or driveways. Snow may harden like concrete in these areas if not removed promptly.

The sunny location of a building site in summer may be a shaded deep-freeze in the winter causing great snow accumulation and icy conditions. Likewise, a shaded exposure or steep slope for driveways and private roads makes access and maintenance difficult. Be certain to study your land in all weather conditions to determine the most desirable homesite and access.

Living adjacent to public lands may be a mixed blessing. Use by all types of recreationalists may bring the inevitable hiker, biker, picnicker, camper, hunter, fisherman, snowmobiler and others onto your property. While most people are sensitive to private property, be aware that not everyone respects the rules. When considering a piece of property, be sure to check out water quality, road maintenance, compatibility and any other issues that might be important to you. Part of our job in representing you as your real estate broker is to help gather any information you need to make an informed decision. Call or email us if we can be of assistance. /

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

HOME PRICES CLIMB: As developable land becomes even scarcer in Durango, the real estate market has pushed to new heights during the first quarter of 2006, with the median price of a home ringing in at $394,000. That's up 27 percent from the same three month period a year ago, according to data compiled by the Durango Area Association of Realtors.

Other highlights when comparing the first quarter of 2006 to 2005:

* The median price of a county home on fewer than 35 acres jumped 29 per cent from $266,450 to $345,000.

* The median price of a Bayfield home shot up 32 percent from $212,750 to $280,000.

* Total dollar volume of Bayfield homes sold almost quadrupled from $900,500 to $3.4 million.

* The median price of a townhome in Durango increased 11 percent from $254,180 to $282,900.

* Durango saw a 23 percent decrease in the number of homes sold.

We have a shortage of developable land in Durango proper causing upward pressure on prices. Many families and first time buyers are heading to Bayfield where prices are in a lower range. /

Sunday, May 07, 2006

AGRICULTURE: People moving into the Durango area often find the lifestyle to be far different from other parts of the country. For instance, Colorado is a "right-to-farm" state, which means that agricultural enterprises have certain rights and privileges afforded to them, and La Plata County has regulations to support, protect and assist in the maintenance of agricultural production. Residents who choose to live among the many farms and ranches of La Plata County should be aware of these protections.

Farmers, particularly during the planting and harvest time, frequently work from early in the morning until late at night running farm equipment such as tractors and combines. These operations cause dust, odor and noise. Farmers must burn their irrigation ditches to clear them of debris, grass and weeds in preparation for the irrigation season and may need to access their ditch easements through your property.

Chemicals are often used in agricultural production. With aerial and ground spraying of crops, there is the potential for small amounts of chemical to drift onto neighboring properties. The La Plata County Extension Office at (970) 247-4355 can supply information on chemicals commonly used.

Irrigation systems have enabled a diversity of agriculture with higher yields than dry land farming. Non-irrigated or untillable lands, both private and public, may be used for grazing animals. Colorado and La Plata County have fence regulations, which means that property owners are reponsible for fencing the livestock "out" of their property. Remember, "fence out, not in." The neighboring pasture that is so lovely in the summer may turn muddy and odorous if it is used for winter feeding. Flies may be a common nuisance around livestock ranches in the summer months.

Living in rural areas has certain unwritten restrictions and "codes of conduct," all based on respect for the land and others, including resident and transient wildlife. Humm, "respect for the land and others," what a wonderful concept. That's why we love living here in the beautiful San Juans. You can live here too. Give us call! /

Friday, May 05, 2006

DURANGO: Good news! Durango West I residents overwhelmingly passed a $600,000 bond issue on Tuesday to fix roads in the subdivision.

Eighty-four voters approved the bond while 42 opposed it in the vote-by-mail election.

Voter's approval follows years of neglected road maintenance in the subdivision, said district manager Janet Anderson. "Our roads are in really bad shape," Anderson said. "We've wanted to do this for awhile."

Work on the roads will begin later this year. The Durango West Metro District hopes to have a contractor signed up by May 25, Anderson said.

Durango West has about 3 miles of road. The roads in the worst shape are Forest Ridge Drive, Trail Wood Drive and Moss Road. Some of the roads will be completely rebuilt, while roads that benefited from a $550,000 bond issue in 1995 will be merely maintained.

We commend the residents of Durango West I for their community pride. It certainly makes our job easier when marketing homes in the area. Give us a call or email if you have any questions or comments about the Durango real estate market. /

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

FORECLOSURES: While it was reported that Colorado led the nation in the rate of home foreclosures last month we are happy to report that La Plata County was an exception. The problems seem to be concentrated in the state's population centers. In fact, in La Plata County foreclosure rates are down compared to last year, said Treasurer Ed Murray. Murray said his office typically sees about five foreclosures a month. So far this year there have only been fifteen. For all of 2005, there were 62 foreclosures. The Durango economy is sound, the mountains are beautiful, the fish are biting - what a wonderful place to live. /

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

MORE ON WATER: In our previous posts we have talked about water rights and the delivery of water by direct diversion from the river or via irrigation ditches managed by ditch companies. This is "adjudicated water," i.e. water rights that have been established by the Water Court. Adjudicated water rights are generally transferred by water stock certificates from the ditch company. Assessments for delivery of adjudicated water are billed annually by the ditch company.

Another type of water is "project water." Project water is water stored at Lemon Dam. This water is measured in acre-feet and stored until it is needed. Lemon Dam stores 40,100 acre-feet of water in a normal year. The project water is delivered via ditches and measured in cubic feet per second (cfs.) Project water rights are usually transferred on the land deed. Assessments for project water are billed with your property taxes. / http://